Argentine torturers on trial

This video from Democracy Now! in the USA includes Bone Fragments Discovered at Argentine Torture Site.

From AFP news agency:

Argentine soldiers face Falklands torture charges

Some 70 Argentine soldiers are to be charged in 80 cases of torture committed by the South American country’s army on its own ranks during the Falklands War against Britain, a prosecutor has said.

A federal appeals court in the southern city of Comodoro Rivadavia upheld a decision by a trial court that the alleged torture are considered crimes against humanity and can therefore not be denied, the source said.

“We have been fighting for 27 years for this to become known, we are really satisfied,” said Eduardo Alonso, president of the Centre for Falkland Islands Veterans at La Plata, 60 kilometres south of the capital Buenos Aires.

“Next week, more soldiers will report about abuses they have suffered.”

He cited several types of torture, including simulated executions and death by starvation.

Prosecutors are investigating the deaths of soldiers Rito Portillo, in an alleged execution, and Remigio Fernandez, who was abandoned on the islands as punishment.

Argentina and Britain fought a bloody war over the islands, known in Spanish as Las Malvinas, between April 2 and June 14, 1982 that left 649 Argentines and 255 Britons dead.

The archipelago in the southern Atlantic has been under British control since 1833.

The conflict erupted when Argentine forces invaded the islands, prompting Britain’s prime minister Margaret Thatcher to deploy naval forces to retake the territory.

No agreement is yet in sight for the Falkands, to which Argentina continues to lay territorial claims.

Plaintiffs before the courts were enlisted as conscripts when military service was compulsory at the time of the war, under the dictatorship of General Leopoldo Galtieri.

Some 30,000 people disappeared during Galtieri’s rule (1976-1983), according to rights groups.

Good that the Argentine dictatorship’s torturers have to stand trial for their crimes at last.

It would be even better if the ally of the Galtieri dictatorship up to the Malvinas war, and the ally of the Chilean Pinochet dictatorship, Margaret Thatcher, would have to stand trial for her crimes in Britain (or in The Hague) as well.

8 thoughts on “Argentine torturers on trial

  1. Fil-Am activist recounts torture by military
    By Alcuin Papa
    Philippine Daily Inquirer First Posted 15:30:00 06/28/2009

    MANILA, Philippines—It was a journey back to a “dark place” in her life. But it was a journey which Filipino-American Melissa Roxas took to tell the world of the harrowing human rights violations in the Philippines.

    In an emotional press conference in Los Angeles Sunday morning (Manila time), and shown simultaneously online, Roxas finally broke her silence and recounted to American and Philippine media her ordeal in the hands of what she believed to be her military torturers in La Paz, Tarlac in May.

    Wearing a black blouse, Roxas told media in between sobs that she was abducted and then repeatedly beaten up inside a jail while being told she had “no rights in here.”

    When one of her abductors told her they were only “instruments of God” to make rebels return to the fold of the government, “I told them that my God does not torture people.”

    In the afternoon of May 19, Roxas and her two companions—Juanito Carabeo and John Edward Jandoc—were abducted by what they believed to be military agents, in the subvillage of Bagong Sikat, Kapanikian village, La Paz town, in Tarlac, around three hours north of Metro Manila.

    After six days, Roxas was freed followed by Carabeo. Jandoc was reportedly released but has not surfaced.

    Reading portions from her affidavit, which she previously submitted to the Supreme Court as a petition for a writ of amparo (protection from government agents), Roxas said she was constantly interrogated by men who addressed one of the interrogators as “sir” and was told she was abducted because she was a member of the New People’s Army.

    “I told them I had rights and demanded a lawyer. I told them I was just a writer and a volunteer. They told me that even if a year would pass, I would never see a lawyer. That in there, I had no rights,” she said.

    During the beating, the interrogators asked her if she was ready to die.

    “They told me that before they killed people, they made them pee and shit from pain before they die and then they dragged me out of my cell,” Roxas said.

    After more beatings, one of the torturers pulled two plastic bags over her head and strangled her.

    “I started to suffocate, I could not breathe anymore, started to see white and thinking I was going to die, but then he released the hold,” she said.

    Roxas said during her captivity, she heard sounds of gun firing in what seemed to be a firing range, and also sounds of construction and planes taking off.

    “During my abduction and torture, I knew it was the military that had me. They kept telling me that I was a member of the NPA and made me sign some docs but I refused. I kept telling them I was a writer and health care volunteer.” The NPA or New People’s Army is the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, which has been waging a 40-year-insurgency.

    She said she decided to come out and relate her story because “I don’t want what happened to me happen to anyone else ever again. I want the world to know what happened because the Philippine government and military should not get away with what they did to me. They can’t get away with what they did to many people. Many families are still looking for their loved ones and many more still missing.”

    She also asked the American and Filipino people “and all believers of truth and justice” to help her and other torture victims get justice.

    “It has to end, the killings, enforced disappearances, the abductions, and torture,” she said, breaking into sobs again.

    Roxas said she remained haunted by the nightmare of what happened to her.

    “Talking about that is like going back to that dark place. But knowing I spoke the truth about what happened to me keeps … silence and fear from drowning me. And instead, I get to keep that bit of light inside of me,” she said of why she finally faced the media.

    Arnedo Valera, Roxas’s lawyer in the US, said the Philippine government was trying to escape liability by saying his client’s story was “stage-managed.”

    “Melissa was tortured. That is a fact,” he said.

    He added that Roxas’s camp would seek damages before a US federal court against the Philippine government. Valera also said he and his client would file a complaint before the US State Department and the United Nations.

    According to the local human rights group Karapatan, there have been 203 recorded victims of abduction, 1,010 victims of torture, 1,017 victims of extrajudicial killings, and 201 victims of enforced disappearances from 2001 to the present, or since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo took power.

    In 2007, UN Special Rapporteur for Extrajudicial Killings Philip Alston reported that the government was to blame for human rights violations in the country. In a recent follow-up report, Alston said the government failed to stem rampant human rights violations in the country.

    In April 2009, the UN Committee Against Torture (UNCAT) also released a report detailing the use of torture by the Philippine military.


  2. Editorial
    Search for truth

    Philippine Daily Inquirer
    First Posted 00:19:00 06/30/2009

    It is good that Filipino-American Melissa Roxas, a member of the US chapter of Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan), has announced that she would sue military agents who tortured her almost to the point of death. Her lawyer said she would seek damages in a US federal court against the Philippine government and his group would also file a complaint before the US State Department and the United Nations.

    She should also file a case in a Philippine court, and hope that others who went through experiences similar to hers will follow her example and file their complaints.

    The filing of a case in a US federal court and of complaints before the US State Department and the United Nations may yet produce a result similar to that of the case filed by nearly 10,000 victims of human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship. In 1995 a court in Hawaii awarded the complainants $2 billion in damages. But more than just the payment of damages to Roxas, the cases she filed should result in the revelation of the truth about not just her complaint but also about the 1,010 cases of torture, the 1,013 victims of extrajudicial killings and the 202 victims of enforced disappearances since President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo came into power in 2001.

    The Philippine government has said that Roxas’ story was stage-managed. But what would she gain by inventing a story of torture? She was visiting the Philippines as a volunteer for an “exposure program” when she was reported missing in La Paz, Tarlac, on May 19. She returned to her Tarlac home on May 26. She said she nearly suffocated when her torturers put two plastic bags over her head. This is surely something that she would never forget for the rest of her life.

    She said she was abducted by men she believed to be members of the military. It appeared that she was detained at a military camp in Nueva Ecija, presumably Fort Magsaysay. She was grilled by men who addressed one of them as “Sir.” She was told that she was abducted because she was a member of the New People’s Army.

    Lt. Col. Romeo Brawner Jr., Armed Forces spokesperson, denied that Roxas was tortured by military agents at Fort Magsaysay. But of course they will deny that extrajudicial killings, tortures and enforced disappearances are being carried out by military agents. These agents may not be members of regular Armed Forces units but of secret, shadowy military groups often referred to as Army “black squads.”

    These groups have been operating under a climate of impunity since Ms Arroyo assumed the presidency, spurred by her order to the generals to stamp out the communist insurgency by 2010. The military and the police have gone all-out in their campaign, targeting and attacking not just the armed guerrillas of the New People’s Army but also unarmed, non-combatant leftist militants and activists.

    So the extrajudicial killings, the tortures, the enforced disappearances go on. And nobody is held to account for them. On the contrary, generals and other officers like Maj. Gen. Jovito Palparan, who have played important roles in this mad-dog campaign that does not distinguish between combatants and civilians are not held to account but are instead praised publicly and rewarded with plum posts by Ms Arroyo.

    Roxas has said that these killings, tortures and enforced disappearances have got to stop. She said: “I don’t want what happened to me to happen to anyone else ever again. I want the world to know what happened because the Philippine government and military should not get away with what they did to me.”

    She has taken the first step toward the discovery of the truth about the extrajudicial killings, tortures and enforced disappearances under the Arroyo administration. She deserves the support of all people who believe in the sanctity and value of human life and in the correct and fair dispensation of justice. We hope that, as in the human rights case tried in the US, this case will produce positive results for the victims, their relatives and survivors, and help put an end to a dark chapter in the Philippines’ history.


  3. Five men jailed for leftwinger’s death

    Argentina: A retired Argentinian general and four other members of the military have been convicted and sentenced to long prison terms over the 1976 killing of a communist.

    Retired general Santiago Riveros was sentenced to life in prison by a Buenos Aires court yesterday. Four other retired servicemen received sentences of 14 to 25 years in the killing of Floreal Avellaneda.


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