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  • Protesters demand the return of disappeared Mapuche supporter Santiago Maldonado.

    Protesters demand the return of disappeared Mapuche supporter Santiago Maldonado. | Photo: EFE

Published 13 August 2017

The family's lawyer Veronica Heredia, denounced the government's inaction, saying more important methods of finding Santiago Maldonado are being overlooked.

Social movement activists and human rights defenders gathered in Argentina’s famous Plaza de Mayo with photos of Santiago Maldonado, the activist who is said to have disappeared over two weeks ago during a raid by the military police in a Mapuche town.

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Massive Demonstration in Argentina for Disappeared Activist

"We are in this Plaza because this is an act of forced disappearance at the hands of the security forces. For the rule of law, this is of intolerable institutional gravity," Maldonado’s brother Sergio Maldonado said to the mass of demonstrators.

Organization leaders, Horacio Verbitsky of the Center for Legal and Social Studies read from a document signed by 13 human rights groups.

"We meet again in this historic square, the town square, to demand the safe return of Santiago Maldonado now!" he said aloud.

"The only thing certain is that the National Gendarmerie (military police) carried out a brutal repression against the community without any judicial order," Verbitsky told the crowd.

“Let Santiago appear!" Maldonado said. "As soon as possible! Santiago I want to see you! I'm proud of you. I'm going to fight here to the end. I do not give a damn what happens to me.”

Representatives from Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, Relatives of Detained Missing Persons, HIJOS Capital, the League, CELS, APDH, among other organizations united to demand the return of the 28-year-old's disappearance.

Before the crowds, Maldonado demanded President Mauricio Macri “comply with the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearance and the measures entrusted to him by the United Nations Committee on Forced Disappearances.”

"I never believed that in our country, after so many years of struggle, with the teaching that the mothers, grandmothers and children left us, we would have to march again to demand the appearance of a victim of forced disappearance," said Rosa Bru, who explained that her son had also disappeared during the military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983.

"It makes me very sad, and afraid. It happened to me," said Ramiro Costa, who works as an artisan at the Continuing Teacher Training,

Another demonstrator, Lidia Lloret stated, "I consciously lived the dictatorship. I was exiled and my husband has a missing family member ... this government not only came to raise prices, but it came to bring the association with the dictatorship."

Maldonado said dialogue was the only possible resolution to the conflict between the government and the Mapuche people and demanded that the judiciary investigate and find his brother.

RELATED:
Mothers of Plaza de Mayo: Maldonado Victim of 'State Violence'

According to the family lawyer presiding over the case, “Instead of looking for the perpetrators, the victim is still being investigated," explained attorney Veronica Heredia. “Computers were not taken or documented ... There are important measures that are not being considered.”

The Argentine Federal Police, provided with a search warrant from Judge Guido Otranto, raided the home of Santiago Maldonado, on the premise that they may discover some elements which would shed some light on the man’s alleged disappearance.

Heredia criticized the measure authorized by Otranto, in charge of the investigation. "We have been asking for testimony from the Gendarmerie for some time now. We were not informed that the raid was going to take place," Heredia told state news agency Telam.

Maldonado was last seen during a military police eviction operation against the Pu Lof Mapuche community in the Chubut department of Cushamen. Witnesses say they saw officers shove the the young man into a van and drive away.

Maldonado's family blame the military police for the young man’s disappearance but the government denies its involvement.

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