September 22, 2019 / 3:54 PM / 24 days ago

U.N. Rights chief Bachelet says feels 'sorry' for Brazil under Bolsonaro

FILE PHOTO - U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet attends a session of the Human Rights Council at the United Nations in Geneva, Switzerland, September 9, 2019. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse

SANTIAGO (Reuters) - U.N. human rights chief Michelle Bachelet, who earlier this month came under personal attack from Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro, says she feels sorry for Brazil, according to a Chilean media report published on Sunday.

Bolsonaro, a far-right former army captain, accused Bachelet of “meddling” in Brazil´s affairs after she raised concerns about a jump in killings by Rio de Janeiro police, backtracking on democratic norms and attacks on indigenous communities.

He also took aim at the former Chilean president herself as well as her father, an air force general who remained loyal to socialist president Salvador Allende after Chile´s 1973 military coup and died in jail.

“(Bachelet) forgets that the only reason (her) country isn’t like Cuba is thanks to those who had the courage to put a stop to the left in 1973,” Bolsonaro wrote. “Among those communists was her ... father.”

In an interview with Chilean national television due to be screened on Sunday evening, extracts of which were carried in the morning in La Tercera newspaper, Bachelet responded.

“I was asked in a press conference about the situation in Brazil and we gave the information that we have, which is the number of people who have been killed and the difficulty for civil society to continue doing the things they were doing before,” she was quoted as telling TVN.

Asked specifically about Bolsonaro´s reaction to her criticism, she alluded to Brazil´s own military dictatorship between 1964-1985, which Bolsonaro has praised as “glorious”.

“How I take things depends on who is saying them... So if someone is saying that their country has never been under dictatorship, that there has never been any torture there... well then let him say that the death of my father by torture ensured that Chile did not become Cuba. The truth is that I feel sorry for Brazil.”

Bachelet´s office did not respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Reporting by Aislinn Laing; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall

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