The human rights of people with mental health issues are violated in Brazil every day. The crimes continue without end. I am writing to introduce Dr Marcelo Henrique, the founder, and CEO of OBDH (Observatorio Brasileiro de Diretos Humanos), which is the humanitarian organisation that judicially helps and supports the less fortunate Brazilian population. Through the OBDH, Dr Henrique and his colleagues have been helping a lot of people throughout Brazil.
Dr Henrique has a long history of human rights activism in Brazil. He is a scholar, a lawyer, an advocate for social justice, and a strong voice for public health reforms. He and his colleagues created the institute of The Right of Defence to assist judicially the incarcerated population and those with behaviour mental health history behind bars. In addition to being a lawyer, Dr Henrique has written articles and a book about human rights and public healthcare in Brazil (Directions Humanos e Accesso a Saude No Brazil).
The need for a human rights organisation: OBDH
OBDH is an organisation that juridically helps and supports the less fortunate Brazilian population and the rights of people being violated and tortured just because of their mental illness. At the root of it, OBDH is a human rights organisation fighting for social justice, helping the less fortunate, educating for justice, and advocating for reform for the public health system.
It was an honour to attend the live session on 12th August 2021, hosted by the OBDH. Max Guttman, LCSW, a respected disability rights advocate was one of the guests of honour of the live broadcast. He shared his experiences and insights into mental health systems and the treatment of mental health disorders. He spoke on how different Brazil and the US are regarding their treatment of people with mental health diagnoses.
‘The disparities are staggering, and the need to globally address this crisis is more urgent than ever,’ Max commented on the crisis plaguing Brazil and much of South America.
I was very proud to be part of this event. I am also looking forward to contributing more to OBDH. For this reason, I have created a virtual group that aims to work with many American professionals. Each professional assists and supports, helping alleviate the pain and the suffering of the Brazilian population by sharing their expertise and work experience to help save lives in the South American nation.
Brazil is in crisis, and people with behavioural and mental diagnoses are facing great peril. These people are marginalised and treated like animals are considered dangerous people to Society in the South American Nation. According to resources like G1, O Cubo, Maranhao do Povo, among others, this population has published the atrocity that these populations are suffering. The Brazilian news has shown the lack of humanity toward this particular community. These populations are subject to oppression and discrimination. They are being raped, tortured, and starved to the brink of death.
People are in cages
Thirty-three women in Ceara in Crato, Brazil, were kept imprisoned in small enclosures that are no different from human cages. People killed inside Brazilian psychiatric institutions. 21-year-old Vitor Sally was found dead inside the Clinic Sao Francisco with ribs, broken arms, and teeth.
In the spirit of seeking justice for the marginalised community, I have created the Human Rights Coalition for Latin America Mental Hygiene & Social Justice with one of my colleagues.
This social justice group’s mission is to create awareness about the uncountable human rights violations against the most vulnerable populations living with dual diagnosis, forensics issues, gender-based discrimination, and violence in Latin America, especially Brazil. We aim to create a coalition with a diverse group of professionals with expertise in different fields to assist and support our voluntary work. Brazilian and American bloggers who have published Vava history, Francisco history, Vitor Sally history.
We are standing up for justice and humanity
Cases in which families have experienced their relatives tortured and killed by Therapeutic Clinics in the country. Vitor Sally’s case, a 21-year-old young man, had his body broken, mutilated, and his private parts electrocuted. All while inside a psychiatric clinic for substance misuse treatment.
Vava’s case (Jose Vandeilson Silvina de Sousa) was a 17-year-old boy denied help when he had a mental health crisis – mistaken for a person with drug addiction and not a teenager who was having psychosis. He went missing for 10 months.
And the-less fortunate, Francisco Osvaldo, like Vitor Sally’s, was a victim of the same clinic that Vitor Sally was killed five years early (according to Vitor’s relatives’ story). Francisco, too, suffers ill-treatment due to the torture and starvation he was forced into while inside the clinic for treatment for his bipolar disorder. When delivered to his family, Francisco was very feeble, disoriented, and with an abnormal belly. Three days later, he passed away. Therefore, this great scholar is doing all these work free of charge to the victim’s family.
One of his earliest works in the country is where he and his colleagues created the entire SUS diabetes protocol designed in the light of regional actions, cooperation, and the partnership that Dr Henrique made with the Federal Public Ministry.
The works of Dr Henrique
Through the work of Dr Henrique and his friends who believe in his career and together with his many friend and supporters, the OBDH was created on February 20, 2021. The day of Social Justice.
Before creating OBDH, Dr Henrique and his allies and friends worked to charter the Principle for the Rights of Children and Adolescents with Type I Diabetes. The entire SUS protocol was designed and created by him and his allies and friends. This cooperation & partnership was signed between him and the Attorney for Citizens’ Rights, at that time under the command of Dr Jefferson Aparecido Dias.
The Brazilian Observatory of Human Rights is the light and beacon of hope for many Brazilians. The Brazilian Observatory of Human Rights’ primary mission is to alleviate Brazilians’ pain, suffer, support, and help the less fortuned judicially throughout Brazil. The organisation operates, offering its services to all with no cost, totally free of charge. OBDH never asked anybody for a financial contribution.
As I continue to learn about his work, Dr Henrique has a long history of humanitarian work. He has been doing this for a long time throughout the country, helping the vulnerable groups and the underserved, marginalised population in the Brazilian society.
Ana Medeiros is a Brazilian mental health campaigner, based in New York.