Friday, July 06, 2012

Justice for the disappeared

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. One particular horror was the theft of the children of the victims, who were given to military families to raise. An estimated 400 children were stolen in this manner.

Yesterday, former dictators Jorge Videla and Reynaldo Bignone were convicted for their role in that crime. Videla was sentenced to 50 years in prison, Bignone to 15. Both are already serving lengthy prison sentences for torture, murder, and disappearance, and will likely die in jail. But this doesn't make the convictions pointless. The trial has uncovered and acknowledged the truth. While that makes no difference to Videla, it makes all the difference in the world to his victims.