Argentinian minister quits in protest over detention of indigenous leaders
An Argentine minister quits after she refused to intervene as police detained indigenous leaders in a controversial case that the human rights group Global Witness has called “unusual”.
Bartlett Chirinko resigned from her position after she told police guarding indigenous leaders not to intervene.
The incident has sparked criticism for human rights violations and provoked international outrage.
The group had highlighted the case as a possible case of political repression of indigenous peoples.
The issue escalated on 5 November with the arrest of seven indigenous leaders in the Mendoza province.
Police charged the group, who had been occupying a site for more than a decade, with “illegal occupation” after they refused to leave the site.
The charges were dismissed by the court but the group appealed the decision with support of the UN Permanent Peoples’ Protection, which had helped to establish the occupation.
The case was taken over by the Attorney General’s office where the police intervened.
Argentina’s Ministry of Justice and the Public Prosecutor’s Office denied any political motivation.
However, the minister of justice and Human Rights, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, said that the authorities “did not make the decision to intervene as a result of a political decision or to take any decision at all.
“The decision was made in an autonomous capacity to protect the country’s security,” he told local television channel Urruguay, adding that “all the laws of the country” were being followed.
The Human Rights Centre in Argentina said that the rights of “all Argentinians, regardless of their political and other affiliation or association, in the country and in their communities were seriously violated.”
Police made the decision to intervene at the group’s encampment outside the Mendoza city hall where the seven had been standing for 10 days.
Argentina’s human rights minister, Bergoglio, insisted the intervention was a “decision [that] is taken in a country with law, and for a decision based on security”.
The minister of justice announced the resignations of civil servants