Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Justice for disappearance

Between 1976 and 1983, Argentina's military junta waged a campaign of violence against dissidents, students, and unionists known as the "Dirty War". Thousands were disappeared, tortured and murdered by government death squads, their bodies flung from the backs of planes over the Atlantic Ocean to prevent any evidence from coming to light. Today, former dictator Reynaldo Bignone and six accomplices were sentenced to 25 years imprisonment on 56 charges of murder, torture, and kidnapping. This is just the tip of the iceberg of the crimes against humanity committed during that era - estimates of the death toll range from ten to thirty thousand - but one provable case is all it takes. These human rights abusers will now be in jail for the rest of their natural lives, condemned by the apparatus of the democratic state they tried to strangle. It may have been slow in coming, but there is finally some justice for the disappeared.

(The reason for the delay? Because the first post-junta government granted the military an amnesty for their crimes. It took until 2003 for the laws to be repealed, and 2005 for the courts to declare that they had absolutely no effect and that prosecutions could begin. Voreqe Bainimarama take note!)