'Beat him up until he's dead': the violent chant sung by Brazil's police
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A video showing members of the Brazilian military police singing an ultra-violent song during a training exercise has gone viral in the past few days. In a country where the security forces are routinely accused of abuses, many find the lyrics extremely disturbing.
"Aim for his head, shoot without error”, “Hit him in the face and beat him ‘til he’s dead”, “Rip his head off, blow it up”, “Rip off his skin and burn his bones”: these brutal lyrics come from a song chanted with relish by the Brazilian military police during a training exercise.
The video, posted on March 25 on the Facebook page “Fans of the military police in Paraná state", shows about thirty officers belting it out while taking part in a group run.
The caption indicates that the men in the video are part of ROTAM (a battalion that deals with public order and fighting serious crime in large cities) at the Military Police Academy in Guatupe.
"Is it just me or does that look like a death squad?"
The beige uniform worn by the men in the footage does indeed correspond with the uniform of the battalion in question, and if you look closely, you can see “ROTAM” is written on their armbands.
Since it was posted, the video has been viewed more than 200,000 times and shared extensively across social media and in Brazilian media.
“These are the people meant to ‘protect’ the population?” asked a social media user in a comment under the video on Facebook, referring to the slogan of the Brazilian military police, “To serve and protect”.
"Is it just me or does that look like a death squad? What is the role of the military police? I’m sure that it isn’t to kill, not even criminals. I think they know that there is no death penalty in our country,” writes another user.
On the other hand, other social media users encouraged the members of the battalion, calling them heroes and “new warriors.”
These songs exist “all over the world”
The local paper O Globo interviewed representatives of the military police about this video. In the interview, they acknowledged that songs with aggressive lyrics were used during trainings. They maintained, however, that the use of these songs did not “shape the training and behaviour of the police in the street on a daily basis.”
“These songs are used by security forces in Brazil but also all over the world,” said the military police’s communication service, maintaining that the officers were guided in their work by the principles of “respect for human rights and human dignity.”
The Brazilian military police is routinely criticised for its violent methods. According to Amnesty International, the military police in Rio de Janeiro have killed more than 1,500 people between 2010 and 2015 under often troubling circumstances. The global rights organisation reports that these numbers are constantly increasing, and the number of deaths linked to police operations in Rio jumped from 416 in 2013 to 920 in 2016.
In 2015, the military police in Parana was criticised for having violently shut down a protest led by schoolteachers. About a hundred people were injured in the incident.
These acts often go unpunished. On May 15, 2017, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights condemned Brazil for the impunity of police officers implicated in two massacres carried out in a Rio favela in the 1990s.