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Argentina: Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo; treatment of members by police; involvement in "escraches," particularly in Mendoza; whether men can become members of the organization; address of the organization's chapter in Mendoza (1999 - March 2001)

Publisher Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada
Author Research Directorate, Immigration and Refugee Board, Canada
Publication Date 21 March 2001
Citation / Document Symbol ARG36732.E
Reference 2
Cite as Canada: Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada, Argentina: Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo; treatment of members by police; involvement in "escraches," particularly in Mendoza; whether men can become members of the organization; address of the organization's chapter in Mendoza (1999 - March 2001), 21 March 2001, ARG36732.E, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/3df4be0a24.html [accessed 26 October 2014]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

In a 20 March 2001 interview, the president of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association (Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo) stated that only mothers of individuals who have "disappeared" can become members of the organization (20 Mar. 2001a). While the Association does employ men in a number of capacities, and has male lawyers, physicians and teachers on staff, such individuals play no role in organizational decision-making (ibid.).

The president claimed that members of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association are subjected to police harassment, and are frequently arrested while attempting to distribute flyers (ibid.). The president added that individuals linked to the Association, including members' families, receive anonymous threats (ibid.). This information is corroborated by Amnesty International, which claimed in its annual report for 2000 that

Members and lawyers of the ... Mothers Association of Plaza de Mayo were repeatedly threatened during the year. The threats were related to their work on behalf of their "disappeared" children and the legal investigations and court rulings related to past human rights violations.

The president also indicated that members of her Association conduct "escraches" (public denunciations) of individuals suspected of involvement in human rights abuses during the period of military rule (ibid.). Typically, these actions are carried out upon receipt of information that an individual suspected of human rights abuses is in a restaurant or some other public locale, with members gathering at this location in order to denounce the targeted individual until such time that he or she leaves (ibid.). However, the president added that, in organizing "escraches," the Association does not engage in some of the tactics adopted by the human rights organization Children for Identity and Justice, Against Forgetting and Silence (Hijos por la Identidad y la Justicia, Contra el Olvido y el Silencio, HIJOS), for example painting on walls or bringing large numbers of people to participate in the action (ibid.). The president further claimed that, as reprisal for the Association's involvement in "escraches," members have been subjected to death threats and the walls of their houses painted with swastikas (ibid.).

Numerous media reports published between 1999 and 2000 refer to the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association's involvement in "escraches"; examples follow.

On 4 March 1999, members of the Association, led by its president Hebe de Bonafini, carried out a public denunciation of Argentinean president Carlos Menem and Interior Minister Carlos Corach in protest of a decree giving new powers to the Argentinean Federal Police (Policía Federal Argentina, PFA) (Clarín 5 Mar. 1999). During the escrache, participants reportedly threw eggs at the Government House (Casa de Gobierno), some of which struck police officers guarding the building (ibid.).

On 1 May 1999, members of HIJOS, Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association and other organizations carried out an escrache of José Alfredo Martínez de Hoz, economy minister during the period of military rule (La Nación 2 May 1999). The action took place outside an apartment building in Buenos Aires, which was guarded by roughly 100 police officers supported by "numerous" armoured vehicles (ibid.).

On 27 May 1999, approximately 20 members of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association conducted an escrache of Emilio Massera, former head of the navy, outside of his country home in Pacheco, Buenos Aires, where he was under house arrest (La Gaceta 28 May 1999; Clarín 28 May 1999). Association members were joined by a group of local residents in shouting insults at Massera (La Nación 28 May 1999; Clarín 28 May 1999).

On 25 September 1999, roughly 400 members of left-wing political parties, HIJOS and Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association carried out a public denunciation of Luis Patti, administrator (intendente) of Escobar, Buenos Aires (Voz del Interior 26 Sept. 1999). During the demonstration, which reportedly ended without incident, participants accused Patti of being a "torturer" and of taking part in kidnapping during the period of military rule (ibid.).

In March 2000, a group of Association members conducted an escrache of a federal judge, Victor Brusa, in Buenos Aires, whom they accused of involvement in human rights abuses during the period of military rule (Clarín 3 Mar. 2000).

In October 2000, members of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association participated in a public denunciation of Jorge Olivera, a former army intelligence officer (168 Horas 5 Oct. 2000). Approximately 200 individuals participated in the action, organized by HIJOS, which took place outside of Olivera's home in Buenos Aires (ibid.). There were reportedly a number of minor incidents involving police and demonstrators when the latter attempted to spray paint the walls of Olivera's home (ibid.).

In a 20 March 2001 interview, a representative of the Mendoza chapter of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association indicated that the organization's office is located at 9 de julio 1575, 2nd Floor, City of Mendoza (20 Mar. 2001b). The representative also stated that members of the Mendoza chapter have had no problems with the police in recent years, and have not been subjected to threats or other forms of harassment (ibid.). The representative added that while the Mendoza chapter of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo does not organize escraches, its members have participated in a number of actions organized by HIJOS (ibid.).

No mention of members of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Association or their families being subjected to beatings, rape or other forms of physical violence could be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Information Request.

References

Amnesty International (AI). 2000. Amnesty International Annual Report 2000. [Accessed 20 Mar. 2001].

Asociación Madres de Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires. 20 March 2001a. Telephone interview with president.

_____, Mendoza. 20 March 2001b. Telephone interview with representative.

Clarín [Buenos Aires]. 3 March 2000. "Caso Brusa: debutó el jurado de enjuiciamiento." [Accessed 20 Mar. 2001]

_____. 28 May 1999. "Massera, repudiado en su quintoa de Pacheco." [Accessed 19 Mar. 2001]

_____. 5 March 1999. "Nueva protesta de las Madres." [Accessed 19 Mar. 2001]

La Gaceta [Tucumán]. 28 May 1999. "Repudiaron a Massera en su nuevo lugar de detención." [Accessed 20 Mar. 2001]

La Nación [Buenos Aires]. 28 May 1999. "Imputan un grave delito a los hijos de Massera." [Accessed 20 Mar. 2001]

_____. 2 May 1999. "Escrache de Hijos." [Accessed 20 Mar. 2001]

168 Horas [Buenos Aires]. 5 October 2000. Vicente López. "'Queremos Justicia.'" [Accessed 20 Mar. 2001]

La Voz del Interior [Córdoba]. 26 September 1999. "Manifestación de 'escrache' contra Patti." [Accessed 20 Mar. 2001]

Additional Sources Consulted

IRB databases.

Internet sites including:

Amnesty International.

Canal 9 Televida [Mendoza]. Sintesis de noticias. Aug. 2000-Mar. 2001.

Clarín [Buenos Aires]. 1999-2001.

Coordinadora contra la Represión Policial y Institucional.

Cuyo Noticias [Mendoza]. Aug. 2000-Mar. 2001.

Diario Los Andes [Mendoza]. Feb.-May; Sept. 2000-Mar. 2001.

Human Rights Watch.

La Nación [Buenos Aires]. 1999-2001.

Copyright notice: This document is published with the permission of the copyright holder and producer Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada (IRB). The original version of this document may be found on the offical website of the IRB at http://www.irb-cisr.gc.ca/en/. Documents earlier than 2003 may be found only on Refworld.

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