Bolsonaro’s party launches campaign against ‘indoctrinator teachers’

A supporter of left wing presidential candidate for the Workers Party (PT), Fernando Haddad, carries a woman after a turmoil in a pro-Haddad demonstration in Rio de Janeiro, on October 28, 2018. (Photo Credit: DANIEL RAMALHO/AFP/Getty Images)

A campaign has been launched by a newly-elected lawmaker in Jair Bolsonaro’s Social Liberal Party (PSL) to get students to denounce “indoctrinator teachers” who criticize Bolsonaro’s resounding electoral victory on Sunday.

Ana Campagnola, who was elected to for the PSL for the state legislature in the southern state of Santa Catarina, launched the campaign via Facebook on Sunday. As the Guardian reported, she urged her 70,000 followers to be on the lookout for “indoctrinator teachers” and provided a WhatsApp number so students could report “party-political or ideological expressions that humiliate or offend your freedom of faith and conscience.”

In advance of Bolsonaro’s victory in the second round of voting on Sunday — where he defeated his leftist rival Fernando Haddad by 55 to 45 percent — Brazilian media had reported that police had been entering more than a dozen universities across the country, questioning professors and confiscating left-leaning political material.

Ostensibly the raids were to target illegal electoral advertising, since it is against electoral law to advertise for candidates in public spaces in Brazil. However, according to Brazilian media the material confiscated was mostly broad, pro-Democratic statements, like flyers reading “Manifest in Defense of Democracy and Public Universities” and “Law UFF — Antifascist” (UFF refers to the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro State).

The Brazilian Attorney General, Raquel Dodge, has announced an investigation into the incident. “There have been clear indications that there has been an infringement of freedom of expression, freedom of assembly and professorship,” Dodge said in a statement. “I am requesting the STF [Federal Supreme Court] to…  request for an injunction to restore freedom of expression.”

To make matters even more worrying Bolsonaro himself has also promised to cleanse Brazil of left-wing “criminals,” saying that “together, we will build a new nation” and that “these red criminals will be banished from our homeland.” He has also repeatedly praised the brutal military dictatorship which ruled from 1964 to 1985, and promises to stack his cabinet with army generals.

Reporters have also been targeted by Bolsonaro supporters. As Reporters Without Borders has noted, there have been multiple incidents of Bolsonaro supporters targeting reporters, both on and offline. In one particularly nasty case in early October, a journalist from the channel NE10 was assaulted by two Bolsonaro supporters armed with a piece of iron. One of the attackers reportedly said that “when the commander wins, the press will die” while another said “Let’s rape her.”

The PSL’s anti-indoctrination program also bears a striking similarity to another recent proposal by Germany’s far-right AfD (Alternative for Germany) party. The scheme, launched in Hamburg earlier in October, encouraged German children to report any teachers who criticize the AfD. The program has been compared to Stasi tactics, and 50,000 people have signed a petition calling for its removal.