Magazine article New Internationalist

Militant Madres: Commemoration of the Disappeared in Argentna

Magazine article New Internationalist

Militant Madres: Commemoration of the Disappeared in Argentna

Article excerpt

HUMAN RIGHTS

[Graph Not Transcribed]

On 24 March 1976 the military took power in Argentina. Twenty-five years on, the true history of the 'disappearance' of an estimated 30,000 people is still hazy. The main perpetrators are either free or under mere house arrest, thanks to a series of amnesty-granting decrees passed by subsequent democratically elected governments.

Human-rights organizations in Argentina have been intensifying their campaign to raise awareness about the so-called 'dirty war' of the 1970s and the impunity enjoyed by over 1,000 military officers. All the key groups took part in demonstrations and educational workshops on the anniversary. Children in state schools, for the first time ever, participated in official actos (commemorations).

A new challenge is the way political parties now co-opt human-rights campaigns, blurring the issues and dividing the organizations. Mercedes Merono, Vice-President of the Madres de la Plaza de Mayo, argues that they should not march with other groups. 'We may not get the press coverage they get, but we cannot march alongside groups working towards reconciliation. The Abuelas ('grandmothers') and some of the HIJOS ('children of the disappeared') members have let themselves be photographed alongside military officers and politicians and we reject any idea of reconciliation.'

Merono claims the present government is guilty of Big Brother-style abuse. 'The De la Rua Government announces another austerity measure,' she says, 'and then lets it be known through a Federal Judge that the laws of Punto Final and Due Obedience [the 1986 and 1987 decrees which granted impunity] may be revoked. …

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