Brazil dictatorship's human rights abuses being probed


Micheas Gomes de Almeida best known as "Zezinho do Araguaia," the last surviving guerrilla fighter after the military regime (1964 to 1985), walks by the landing strip of a former military base in Xambioa, Tocantins, in northern Brazil, in March 2004. Zezinho participated in a group searching for secret graves of guerrilla rebels gone missing missing during the dictatorship.



SÃO PAULO, Brazil — Brazil's President Dilma Rousseff on Wednesday swore in seven members of a Truth Commission created to investigate human rights abuses committed during the country's long military dictatorship.

Rousseff, who spent three years in prison during the dictatorship and was brutally tortured because she was a leftist guerrilla, was moved to tears as the commission was opened, reported the Associated Press. The Brazilian commission has been put into place years after other Latin American nations have fully investigated their dictatorial regimes.

"We are not moved by revenge, hate or a desire to rewrite history," Rousseff said at the ceremony in Brasilia, according to the AP. "The need to know the full truth is what moves us. Brazil deserves the truth, future generations deserve the truth and, most importantly, those who lost their friends and their families deserve to know the truth."

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One of the commission members is the lawyer who represented Rousseff when she was tortured with electric shocks, reported Bloomberg. Rousseff was imprisoned between 1970 and 1972 for belonging to the Marxist underground that fought the dictatorship.

According to Agence France-Presse, other attendees at the presidential palace ceremony included all of Rousseff's living predecessors: Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (2003 to 2010); Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995 to 2002); Fernando Collor de Mello (1990 to 1992); and José Sarney (1985 to 1990), who is also the current Senate speaker.

The Truth Commission will probe over the next two years politically-motivated abductions, rights abuses and murders that occurred between 1946 and 1988, a time span that exceeds the military dictatorship, said AFP.

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A study conducted by the Brazilian government last year reported that 475 people were killed or "disappeared" by military regime agents between 1964 and 1985, according to the AP. A 33-year-old amnesty law had previously protected members of the military from being held accountable for crimes that occurred during the dictatorship.