In December 2020, Casa Chama, an organization that advocates and provides support to the trans population in Brazil, was also the victim of a cyber attack. Hackers took control of the organisation’s social media accounts and erased a variety of content it had published, such as posts and videos containing information about the rights of the trans population in Brazil, health and safety guidelines, and information regarding the work and activity of the organisation.
“This attack is particularly cruel on the trans community,” said Leona Jhovs (co-founder) when interviewed by Not Only Voices. “People constantly try to erase and silence our existence, and now they are using the same tactics online. The memory and knowledge our community creates is a fundamental part of our survival strategy and it is invaluable”.
Casa Chama was gaining visibility during 2020, as they successfully organized an emergency fund to support trans people affected by the pandemic and started a series of well-watched online events addressing current topics relevant to the trans community. Some of the content erased has already been restored, but Digg Franco (coordinator and co-founder) warns that they are not well-equipped to deal with this sort of attack and continue to be vulnerable to future threats.
“There is a lack of proper infrastructure on all fronts, because we are severely underfunded and have no fixed source of income”, explained Digg to Not Only Voices. “We are not trained in digital security practices and currently only have volunteers working with Information Technology, making it hard to fend off attacks from highly-skilled hackers. We want to continue expanding our online presence and to find new and effective ways to reach and help the trans community, but we need more resources”.
The attack was also reported by Front Line Defenders, who recognised it as part of a pattern of ongoing harassment against the trans population in Brazil, evidencing that trans human rights defenders are facing an increased risk of arrest, physical attack, and psychological trauma while dealing with the current public health and social crisis, which disproportionally affects them.
Images: Leona and Digg + other activists - from Instagram @casachama_org