We Demand that Santiago Maldonado be Returned Alive

August 30, 2017

Once again Argentina is in the international news for violations of human rights. On August 1 the Minister of Security of Argentina, Patricia Bullrich, ordered state security forces to unleash a fierce attack on a group of solidarity activists who had been demanding the release of Facundo Jones Huala, a Mapuche leader illegally imprisoned in the city of Esquel in the Patagonia region of Southern Argentina. Huala’s crime is for struggling for the rights of his indigenous brothers and sisters.

The repressive attack took place in the Mapuche community of Pu Lof-Cushamen in the province of Chubut against defenseless women, children and men who were not carrying firearms, nor were they a threat to anyone. In the military style assault live ammunition and tear gas were used resulting in the burning of their modest homes, causing injury and the destruction of their belongings.

Fearing for their lives many in the community tried to flee across a river including 28 year old Santiago Maldonado who did not make it and was arrested in the chaos. Numerous witnesses have verified that Santiago was beaten, arrested and taken away in a police van. He has not been seen since.

After 21 days, at the insistence of his family and many human rights organizations, the case has been classified as a “forced disappearance”.

The UN Committee against Forced Disappearance has ruled on the case and has demanded that the government of Argentina issue a clarification of the facts of the case, to save all evidence surrounding it and that the state is responsible for the protection of Santiago Maldonado, his family and the community.

Other organizations have come forward like the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights declaring that “Santiago remains in a very grave and risky situation”, putting full responsibility for his personal safety on the national government.

However to the contrary the government of President Mauricio Macri not only does not acknowledge the case but has tried to cover up the facts by unleashing a media campaign of deception to hide the truth and justify the actions of his repressive armed forces.

We reject any and all criminalization of social protest, the threats, the attempt to give impunity to the repressive forces and the unwarranted imprisonment that popular fighters are being forced to endure. None of this has anything to do with democracy; on the other hand it is a chilling reminder of the dark years of the military dictatorship.

Security Minister Patricia Bullrich and her Chief of staff Pablo Noceti – who was present at the attack in Chubut, have clearly demonstrated that they have no interest in guaranteeing the safety of Santiago, so why then should we think that they are willing and or able to do it for the whole of Argentine society.

The people of Argentina do not take something like this lightly and these two have violated their duties as public servants. They have abused their authority and concealed evidence so we demand that they both resign immediately.

During the military dictatorship over thirty thousand Argentineans disappeared and it began like this. And that is exactly why we are yelling NEVER AGAIN.

Alongside the Argentina League for Human Rights, we reserve our right to participate in the prosecutorial indictment of Bullrich and Noceti.

On this the International Day of the Disappeared-Detained, we hold the Government of Mauricio Macri responsible for the life and physical safety of Santiago Maldonado.

Together with the Argentine people and the world we demand that Santiago Maldonado Appear Alive!

International Committee for Peace, Justice and Dignity