The institute’s statistics are much larger than the government’s, with the executive office reporting only 197 injuries Wednesday.
Chile’s national human rights institute reported Wednesday that the number of victims rose to 18 and arrested people countrywide rose to more than 2,400 people, following a sixth day of massive anti-government protests in various cities.
The National Institute of Human Rights, a public but independent agency, said 898 of the arrests occurred in Santiago – where close to 100,000 protesters gathered on Wednesday at the Plaza Italia – and 1,512 taking place in the rest of the country.
Of the total 2,410 detained, 1,565 are male adults, 442 are women and 274 are minors, although age and gender could not be determined in some cases, according to the institute.
Protests have left more than 18 dead – including four foreign citizens – at least five of which were allegedly killed by anti-riot police officers.
The institute said 535 injured have been reported since Thursday, when protests over the steep hike in Santiago metro prices turned into violent clashes and mass civil unrest nationwide. It added that 210 of the injuries were caused by firearms.
Fifty-five criminal cases have been filed by the institute over the situation.
Five of the cases were filed over homicide allegations in which police or military personnel were reportedly involved. There were also eight cases in which the detained claimed being sexually abused by authorities – including strip searches, rape threats and gropings - allegations strongly supported by a report issued by the human rights institute .
Hundreds of thousands took to the streets nationwide for a sixth consecutive day, protesting against inequality and the reforms announced Tuesday night by Chilean President Sebastian Piñera.
The popular movement against Piñera’s neoliberal government, unprecedented in Chile’s modern history, has grown stronger following the beginning of a 48 hours general strike called by the Chilean labor union federation (CUT).
But Piñera declared a state of emergency, deployed soldiers on the streets and said the country was “at war against a powerful and relentless enemy who respects nothing and no one.”
The Santiago metro fare hike prompted a wave of protests that evolved into a much larger wave of discontent, with demonstrators decrying the high prices of electricity and gas, poor distribution of pensions and deficient social health services.