Maldonado was last seen one month ago when border police evicted a group of indigenous Mapuche from lands in Patagonia.
Source: Aljazeera / Photo credit: Resumen Latinoamericano / The Dawn News / September 1, 2017
Tens of thousands of Argentines have demonstrated across the country, demanding answers one month after the disappearance of an indigenous rights activist.
On Friday, protesters held photos of Santiago Maldonado who was last seen when border police evicted a group of indigenous Mapuche from lands in Patagonia owned by Italian clothing company Benetton.
Demonstrators gathered at the Plaza de Mayo square in front of the presidential palace in Buenos Aires asking their government find the 28-year-old alive.
Maldonado’s disappearance has hit a raw nerve in Argentina, where human rights groups estimate that about 30,000 people died or were forcibly disappeared during the 1976-1983 military dictatorship.
Maldonado’s family says border police detained him when he and others were blocking a road in Chubut province, in the southern region of Patagonia. Maldonado and other protesters were demanding the release of a jailed Mapuche leader wanted by Chile.
Al Jazeera’s Teresa Bo, reporting from Buenos Aires, said that those present at Friday’s protest were calling Maldonado’s disappearance a “forced disappearance”.
“There are witnesses that have said that he was taken alive and that’s why they [thousands of protesters] are here today,” Bo said.
Bo added that the government is investigating Maldonado’s disappearance, saying that “it’s in our best interest” to do so.
The government has raided the border patrol that was responsible for last month’s operation in Patagonia, but has not found any information regarding Maldonado’s whereabouts.
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, as well as the United Nations, have said the activist’s disappearance requires urgent action from Argentine President Mauricio Macri.
Online, #UnMesSinSantiago (“One Month Without Santiago”) trended in Argentina on Friday, with many sharing photos from the marches and demanding Maldonado’s return.
Argentina Police Detains Protesters in Santiago Maldonado Rally
Source: TeleSUR TV / The Dawn News / September 1, 2017
As tens of thousands of Argentines protested to demand the return of activist Santiago Maldonado, 30 people were arrested, including reporters and 23 were wounded, according to the Buenos Aires Press Union.
The Sipreba union of journalists said they were taken to police headquarters and some were badly beaten by police officers. Some of the women were forced to strip, and one of them denounced she was filmed by a police officer while detained and stripped naked.
Sipreba denounced said all reporters who were covering the march were filmed in an intimidating manner by the police. Many male and female police officers went undercover as protesters, even causing chaos by throwing rocks, and moments after they were taking their distinctive wine-colored vests out of backpacks, putting them on and making arrests.