Chileans demand release of political prisoners arrested during October 2019 uprising

For the past two weeks, Chileans have been mobilizing in the capital to demand the release of young political prisoners and the national police force has been repressing them, on occasions with water mixed with chemicals

December 08, 2020 by Peoples Dispatch
On December 6, in Chile’s capital Santiago, family members, friends and members of various social organizations carried out a peaceful march to demand the release of thousands of protesters imprisoned during the social uprising of October 2019. Photo: Piensa Prensa

On Sunday, December 6, members of various social organizations, as well as the family members and friends of protesters, once again took to the streets of Chile’s capital Santiago. They were demanding the release of thousands of young protesters, who have been imprisoned in different parts of the country since the social uprising of October 2019.

The protesters peacefully marched from the Dignity Plaza to the Peace Plaza, with colorful banners and posters, playing musical instruments, singing and dancing. They demanded the protesters who have spent more than a year in prison for demonstrating in the streets without having committed any crime be released immediately. They also demanded that those who are in isolation and are not allowed to see their families be permitted to see visitors.

For the past two weeks, members of several human rights organizations, social movements, trade unions and political parties have been mobilizing in the capital every Friday to demand the release of these prisoners. They have also sought the resignation of the far-right President Sebastián Piñera.

Last Friday, on December 4, on the orders of the authoritarian government, hundreds of citizens were violently repressed by the officials of the national police force, the Carabineros. The police used huge amounts of tear gas and water cannons to disperse the gathered people and aggressively detained some protesters.

Additionally, according to local media networks, the police have been spraying water with toxic chemicals against the protesters. On Friday, dozens of protesters suffered skin irritation and burning due to the same. This led the National Institute of Human Rights (INDH) of Chile to ask the Carabineros to give a report on the composition of the chemicals used in water cannons.

The government used the same tactic during the protests last year when the water cannons sprayed water mixed with sodium hydroxide.

Various national human rights activists and political leaders condemned the national government for allowing the use of chemical agents and called to strengthen the struggle against the government. Coordinator October 18 and the Revolutionary Workers Party (PTR) called for a national strike on December 10 to pressure the government through joint actions and mobilizations, to demand the release of imprisoned protesters.