Bad Week for Sadistic Murderers

After the arrest of Karadzic , it seems it is getting harder and harder for mass murderers and torturers to get away with their crimes, even decades later.

The BBC link also has a lot of links on the way Argentina has been dealing with the Dirty War .

Stolen Babies Trials in Argentina

During the Dirty War in Argentina, that is the period between 1976 and 1983 which corresponds to the military dictatorship of General Jorge Rafael Videla, the military junta found a very convenient way of getting rid of their political opposition and of making sure the next generation would not be a problem. The regime would target young pregnant women among the opposition groups, arrest them but let them go through their pregnancies and give birth. THEN, the mothers would be killed and the babies were adopted by military families… that part alone really justifies the use of the term “dirty” in “dirty war.”

Argentina, as a country, is now dealing with the consequences of the dirty war through trials of the participants to the baby-stealing practice. But obviously, things are not easy, especially for a group that has been at the heart of exposing the practice: the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. The children of these women are the disappeared of the dirty war. Now, they want to know what happened to their grandchildren and be reunited with them.

But, as the trials gainst the actors of the junta started to happen, as related in the Independent:

“The 9-millimetre gun and the letter found next to the lifeless body of Lt-Col Paul Alberto Ravone seemed to indicate suicide. Argentine human rights groups, however, suspect foul play as he is not the first key witness in a baby-theft trial to turn up dead. (…) Ravone, 65 and retired, was due to testify on 3 March in a case involving the theft of twins born to a political dissident in a military hospital in 1976. Shortly before, the twins’ parents had been arrested and joined the ranks of the 30,000 desaparecidos or disappeared.”

The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo claim that witnesses are being eliminated. Ravone is not the first potential witness to die in suspicious circumstances. In addition to these suspicious deaths, the Independent relates two opposite cases of grandchildren.

Desparecidos

In the first case, Evelyn Vasquez, now 30, will not willingly submit to DNA testing because she does not want her adoptive parents prosecuted and she has no interest in being reunited with her biological family. Because of her refusal, the police raided her apartment in search traces of DNA. The second case is that of Maria Eugenia Sampallo who is now pressing charges against her adoptive parents for kidnapping and lying on her birth certificate. She has been reunited with her biological relatives but her parents, of course, both labor organizers, are dead. Her adoptive parents could spend up to 15 years in prison. Ms Vasquez is the exception. Those who find the truth about their parents are more likely to cut ties with their adoptive families.

It is an important case to remember that there is such a thing as collective trauma, when an entire society was brutalized. In this case, it has been over 20 years since the end of the dirty war and the Argentinian society is not done purging itself from the long-term consequences of the regime’s impact. Obviously, the truth commission did not do a complete job, largely because the military has stalled and tried to prevent the full disclosure of the extent of its deeds.

Photo Source: Wikipedia Commons

It’s About Time…

From the BBC:

“A court in Argentina has sentenced eight former officials to jail terms of 20 to 25 years for abuses during the country’s military dictatorship.

Among those sentenced was the former head of the army, Cristino Nicolaides.

He is the highest ranking official to be convicted since an amnesty law was repealed in 2003.

The officials were charged with killing members of a left-wing guerrilla group during Argentina’s “dirty war” in the 1970s and 1980s.

Six other former army officers and an ex-police officer were sentenced along with Nicolaides.

Up to 30,000 people are believed to have been kidnapped, tortured or killed during under Argentina’s military dictatorship between 1976 and 1983.

Lawyers said Nicolaides, 80, could not attend the sentencing because of ill health, but the other defendants were present.

One defendant told the judge he was innocent, saying the military regime had brought “order, not repression” to Argentina.

Some spectators shouted insults at the men before they were led from the court.”

Wikipedia has a pretty good background article on the Argentinian Dirty War. This political repression generated a now-famous social movement called “The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo.” It really is about time.