February 10, 2020 Codepu Team CODEPU, news, PUBLICATIONS

An undeniable restlessness runs through Chile and human rights organizations. That restlessness is called March.

It is called March, because social actors have announced their determination to reinforce and give continuity to the social mobilization that began more than a hundred days ago.

For CODEPU, these long and tense days have been about learning and developing initiatives to ensure the respect for human rights and to stop the repression. From the beginning, we have argued that this serious and deep crisis in our country requires a profound transformation of the current economic, social and political order, which is clearly unjust and generates inequalities. We firmly pointed this out on October 19: the unrest and legitimate discontent by the population is the result of a series of abuses and injustices that are added to the absence of policies that would allow each and every one of us to achieve the minimum economic, social, political and cultural rights. Moreover, the aspirations for social justice by the citizens, especially by the most disadvantaged sectors, are frustrated by economic policy decisions that have been applied for a very long time. Our country has been constructing a tremendously unequal society. And that is unfair.

The first response from the government was the imposition of a state of emergency. We strongly question this because the results were a catastrophe. Hence our denouncement of the dead, the injured, the detained, many of them still imprisoned, as a result of the mobilization and protest. Hence our questioning of the promotion of laws that increase penalties and policies of social control that only criminalize the social protest. «We are at war with a powerful enemy» was a statement that warned about the willingness to use force against people who dared to demand justice. It was not warranted.

This is why we are worried about March.

We consider it extreme worrisome that the executive branch be given powers to enable the armed forces to participate in controlling public order. As worrying as the fact that the Forces of Security and Order do not respect protocols and use deterrent weapons that endanger the life and integrity of the demonstrators and cause them irreparable mutilations. Just as serious, or even more, is the fact that the political responsibility for the grave, massive and systematic violations of human rights is not assumed by those who should do so.

This is why we are worried about March.

Despite international human rights missions and the efforts made by national bodies, human rights violations continue. The recent beatings of demonstrators by the police are very serious incidents that cannot be solved by simply dismissing the police officers involved. The police force has been dragged by the authorities into a repressive approach that has damaged its reputation and deepened the crisis. A police force crisis that will only be overcome by a true re-foundation of the institution and the real incorporation of a new doctrine in which the control of public order is only possible with full respect for human rights.

This is why we are worried about March.

For we observe that, despite the complaints, the hundreds of grievances filed and the appeals for protection in front of the courts, the authorities do not perceive the magnitude of the events. From time to time, we are informed, by the press, of the purchase of more police vehicles and of new weapons such as riot guns. To the criticism against the weapons used up to now, the authorities have responded by holding the suppliers of these weapons responsible. This implies that the State and the corresponding authorities do not take responsibility of the decisions behind the supply, handling and use of these weapons.

This is why we are worried about March.

For we perceive that social actors have a distrust of the economic and political elites, who for so many years have not responded to their expectations of social justice. This is why we stated at the time that the «Pact for Social Peace and a New Constitution» took place, that it contained more shadows than lights. We perceive that in the social and popular mobilization there is indignation, pain, humiliation, but also dreams and hopes for a more just Chile, one that respects the dignity of the people who inhabit our territory. And we also hold these hopes.

As an institution that defends human rights, we will do our best, more than we have done up to now: we will continue to provide legal, medical and psychological support to those who require it; we will extend ourselves to other regions where volunteers have offered to promote and defend human rights. We will denounce all human rights abuses and will make a greater effort to ensure that national human rights organizations act jointly. At the same time, we will ask for all international solidarity to demand respect for human rights.

And despite the fact that we are worried about March. We are convinced that the people, and all of us who live in this country, deserve a better Chile.


February 10, 2020

Photographs: Hugo Catalán Flores

Translated by Place de la Dignite