Pro-dictatorship groups rally in Argentina while witness remains missing

Free Speech Radio News www.fsrn.org Thousands in Argentina protested against the nation’s human rights policies on Thursday and called for amnesty for former military officers who served under the military dictatorship. After 19 days of searching, there are still no signs of the missing 77-year-old witness whose gripping testimony of torture helped convict a former police officer in the first junta trial since an amnesty law was overturned. Pro-dictatorship groups chanted slogans saying that the bloody tactics used by the dictatorships were justified in the fight against subversive groups. With photos of military personnel allegedly killed by guerilla groups, orators called for amnesty for all military officers accused of human rights abuses during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, including Miguel Etchecolatz a former police investigator who was sentenced to life imprisonment for crimes committed against humanity during the dictatorship. Ana Lucioni, daughter of a lieutenant who was killed in 1976 gave the opening remarks. “This is a difficult task to remember the victims of subversive terrorism acts; this rally’s objective is to keep alive the memory of those who died defending our country. Those who gave their lives to keep their promise to defend their father land until the last consequence.” Former military leader Reynaldo Bignone sent a message of support to the rally suggesting that young activists finish off the work the military could not. Leftist political groups staged a counterprotest demanding trial and punishment for genocide. A massive police contingent kept the human rights groups at bay, while racist skinheads holding Argentina’s national flag yelled "Assassins." With the national anthem in the back ground, Ruben Saboulard from a neighborhood assembly said that the military supporters are apologists for the disappearance of 30,000 people. “They are holding their act to celebrate their impunity that they still enjoy. You should be in jail and not in the plaza, that is not freedom of speech but apology of criminal acts, this isn’t an act but association to incite violence. There is no forgiveness for you, reconciliation isn’t possible. There aren’t two demons or two enemies, there are only state terrorists whom you represent and we’re going to chase them down wherever they go.” Most of the torture survivors testifying in the ongoing trials against former figures from the military dictatorship have received threats along with judges and federal prosecutors handling the cases. Julio Jorge Lopez went missing just hours before he was slated to give his final testimony on the eve of the conviction of a former police investigator who was sentenced to life imprisonment. During a government rally President Nestor Kirchner spoke out against the threats against witnesses and courts. He said that the act for victims of terrorism is an attack against the government’s human rights policies. “Some say that putting the crimes of the dictatorship on trial is going to divide Argentina. What has divided Argentines is that there’s been no justice and continued impunity. This is why we are witnessing confusing acts like the case of our friend Lopez, because if there would have been justice when it was due, all of these actions would be a thing of the past.” Human rights groups will hold a massive protest for the safe return of Lopez in down town Buenos Aires on Friday evening.

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