News that a Chilean judge is charging 10 former military officers for the killing of singer and political activist Víctor Jara in 1973 and that seven others have been arrested for burning 19-year-old Rodrigo Rojas to death and severely injuring 18-year-old Carmen Gloria Quintana in 1986 bring a glimmer of hope to the tens of thousands of victims of human rights violations committed during Augusto Pinochet’s brutal dictatorship, said Amnesty International.
“These developments show that when there is political will, justice can be done. Authorities must now end the long wait for justice of thousands of victims of enforced disappearances and torture and their families,” said Ana Piquer Romo, Executive Director at Amnesty International Chile.
“Suspected perpetrators of the Pinochet era must be prosecuted without further delay. These historic moves should open a new chapter for justice in Chile and the authorities should ensure no stone is left unturned until all victims and their families are provided with the justice and reparation they are entitled to.”
Political activist and folk singer Víctor Jara was arrested by Chile’s military and taken to the capital’s National Stadium alongside hundreds of others soon after Augusto Pinochet took power by force on September 11, 1973. He was tortured and shot dead in the stadium.
On Wednesday, Judge Miguel Vázquez charged 10 former military officers with the kidnapping and murder of the singer and of former military police head Littré Quiroga Carvajal.
In a separate case, on Tuesday night Judge Mario Carroza ordered the arrest of seven former military officers in connection with the burning of two anti-Pinochet protesters in 1986.
During the demonstrations, soldiers drenched Rodrigo Rojas, 19, and Carmen Gloria Quintana, 18, with gasoline and set them on fire. Rodrigo died four days later and Carmen survived and has been fighting for justice ever since.
Rodrigo was the son of Verónica De Negri, a political activist and torture survivor who was exiled from Chile after Pinochet came into power. Rodrigo lived with his mother in Washington, DC and was visiting his homeland and taking photographs when he and Quintana were captured.
His mother is a former board member of Amnesty International USA.
“The brutal murder of Rodrigo and the grievous injury to Ms. Quintana shocked the world, and justice has been elusive for far too long,” said Ann Burroughs, board chair of Amnesty International USA. “Though the years can do nothing to ease the pain of his family, we are encouraged that those responsible may finally be held accountable.”
Tens of thousands of people were detained, tortured, killed or subjected to enforced disappearance during Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship between 1973 and 1990.
To date, at least 262 individuals have been sentenced for human rights violations and there are more than 1,100 open judicial proceedings dating back to Pinochet’s rule.