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Four Decades After Coup, Justice Still Elusive for Chilean Victims
On the 40th anniversary of the military-led coup d’état in Chile, Freedom House recognizes the victims of human rights violations perpetrated by the military regime and urges the government to fulfill its obligation to provide truth and justice to the victims and their families.
The coup on September 11, 1973, which toppled democratically-elected President Salvador Allende and instituted a military dictatorship, began a 17-year period during which more than 40,000 Chileans were imprisoned, tortured and abused and almost 4,000 Chileans killed. Four decades later, hundreds of Chileans are still disappeared. The coup remains a source of tension and polarization in Chile and an open wound for many victims and their families who are still seeking justice for the abuses they suffered. Twenty-three years after the return to democracy, very few of those responsible for abuses have been punished, and more than 1,300 cases brought by victims are still pending in the courts.
“Chile has made slow progress toward preserving memory and honoring the victims, and it has been negligent when it comes to justice,” said Viviana Giacaman, director for Latin America programs at Freedom House. “We hope these judicial cases will be resolved promptly and that victims' families will finally see justice done after waiting for so many years.”
Chile’s truth commissions have made notable progress, as they have exposed the magnitude of the violations, recognized the victims and helped the reconciliation process. Chilean citizens have also created and built more than 100 memorials for victims throughout the country. The government established its own memorial for victims in 2010 at the Museum of Memory and Human Rights in Santiago.
“The Chilean government must finally abandon the idea of securing justice only ‘to the extent possible,’” said Giacaman. “After 23 years of a protracted and often frustrating transition, the Chilean people need justice and healing. The president Chileans will elect this November should make achieving these aims a priority for his or her administration.”
Chile is rated Free in Freedom in the World 2013 and Partly Free in Freedom of the Press 2013.
To learn more about Chile, visit:
Freedom in the World 2013: Chile
Freedom of the Press 2013: Chile
Blog: Freedom at Issue
Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy in human rights.
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Freedom House is an independent watchdog organization that supports democratic change, monitors the status of freedom around the world, and advocates for democracy and human rights.