Chileans demand release of political prisoners detained in the uprising

Hundreds of young people arrested during the social uprising of October 2019 remain in preventive detention

November 03, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
Over 100 Chileans demonstrated outside the San Miguel prison in the capital Santiago, on November 2, demanding the release of hundreds of young protesters detained during the social uprising and an immediate resumption of visits for inmates in prisons throughout the country. Photo: Frente Fotográfico

On November 2, relatives and friends and members of various social organizations protested outside the San Miguel prison in Chile’s capital Santiago. The demonstration was held to demand the release of hundreds of young protesters, who have spent about a year in preventive detention, after being detained by the national police force in different parts of the country during the uprising of October 2019.

The protesters also demanded an immediate resumption of visits for inmates in prisons throughout the country. The visits have been suspended since the outbreak of COVID-19 in March. Under the slogan of “may the normality of the outside world not cause us to forget those locked up”, more than 100 people gathered outside the prison to demand that the prisoners are allowed to see their loved ones.

The mobilization also expressed solidarity with all political prisoners and administratives detainees: the Mapuche prisoners, the prisoners of Lo Hermida, among others.

The protest taking place outside the prison was replicated by the prisoners inside, who waved flags through the windows of their cells and hit the bars in protest.

The demands and efforts to release protesters, who remain in prison just for demonstrating in the streets without having committed any crime, are gaining strength in Chile, after the constitutional plebiscite of October 25. Many legislators from various left-wing opposition parties have presented a bill of reparation and compensation for victims of state violence, who suffered the violation of their human rights.

Deputy Camila Vallejo of the Chilean Communist Party (PCC), the main promoter of this bill, pointed out that the country is in debt to thousands of people who died, were injured, lost their eyes and suffered psychological trauma that will mark them forever.

Senator Alejandro Navarro of the Progressive Party (PRO) also announced that he will present a bill to the senate that will provide amnesty to all those prisoners who have been accused of crimes they did not commit and have suffered abusive preventive detentions.

Human rights, social and students’ organizations are also organizing a national campaign to demand the freedom for the protesters arrested during the popular rebellion. They are planning to call for a national protest in the coming weeks to demand the release of prisoners, trial and punishment for the political and material authors for the brutal police repression during the months of social insurrection.

According to the data issued by the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) in Chile, between October 18, 2019, the day protests against neoliberal economic policies broke out nationwide, and March 18, 2020, due to heavy police repression, 31 people died, 11,389 people were arrested, 3,838 were severely injured, 460 suffered eye injury and vision loss, 617 were tortured and threatened, 257 were sexually harassed and 1,272 were dealt with excessive force.