A young protester is squeezed with force between two armored police cars. In Chile, this triggers a new wave of anger.
Santiago: The anger of demonstrators in Chile against police violence is growing Photo: reuters
New escalation of police violence against the ongoing protests in Chile: In Santiago on Friday, 20-year-old demonstrator oscar Perez was crushed by two armored police cars. Video of the scene quickly spread on social media.
The Latin America Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed its "concern" about the incident, which highlights that people continue to be injured during demonstrations.
The police officer who drove the car used to push Perez against the other car is now under investigation. Chile’s National Human Rights Institute had demanded that the police officer be charged with attempted manslaughter and remanded in custody.
However, the authorities did not follow this demand – the officer arrested on Saturday only has to answer for negligent bodily injury, is free again and only has to report to a police station once a month during the investigation, which is estimated to last 150 days. From the video recordings and the representation of the police there were no indications of a deliberate act, it was said in justification.
Initially the Socialist Party, but later also deputies from all other opposition factions, demanded the resignation of the capital’s intendant, Felipe Guevara of the right-wing Renovacion Nacional party, and the head of the Carabineros, Mario Rozas. #FueraGuevara (Guevara out!) developed over the weekend into the hashtag for this demand, which was also taken up by other demonstrations on the street on Saturday.
Guevara himself tried to express his sympathy for the injured demonstrator via Twitter. Such unfortunate incidents leave no one cold, he wrote. Perez is in the hospital, he said, with a broken pelvis, but is stable. He added that the government will investigate the circumstances of the incident, but above all will continue to work to restore public order.
Neither on the street nor on the net did Guevara go down well with this. Rather, the protesters accused him of direct guilt and demanded his resignation all the more vehemently. More demonstrations have been announced for Sunday.
Number of eye injuries continues to rise
Thousands of protesters have since been injured in the protests, which have now been going on for over two months and began with anger over a fare increase but quickly expanded into a protest against the right-wing conservative government and the neoliberal economic system.
Several international human rights organizations have condemned the excessive police violence. And although the police had announced that they would largely refrain from using rubber bullets in the future, after more than 200 young people lost their eyesight to such projectiles, the number of serious eye injuries continues to rise – by now there are already more than 350.
Last week, after repeated unexplained injuries were found among demonstrators hit by water cannons, police were forced to admit adding caustic sodium hydroxide to the water.