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Close to 10,000 arrested in 4-months of protests in Chile

SHOCKING figures revealed today the scale of the repression in Chile with almost 10,000 people arrested since anti-government protests began last October.

Around 1,100 of those held were children and adolescents, Chile’s National Institute of Human Rights (NHRI) said, warning that the number of people being detained was rising.

The figures, gained from observations in police stations, suggested that at least 9,794 people had been arrested between October 17 and February 3.

“The report includes complaints, in some cases, of torture, severe mistreatment and sexual violence,” NHRI spokesman Rodrigo Bustos said today.

Cities with the highest number of arrests were the capital Santiago, Antofagasta, Copiapo and Concepcion, the NHRI report said. 

“What has worried us the most, is that in all these cities, where the compliance with the basic rights of persons deprived of liberty is not respected, there are more than 1,000 detainees registered,” Bustos added.

Protests were sparked by the introduction of a 30 per cent increase in underground rail fares, with activists refusing to pay and jumping the barriers in co-ordinated mass action.

Security services clamped down harshly and soon public anger grew into a broader anti-austerity movement, demanding the resignation of right-wing President Sebastian Pinera.

Millions poured onto the streets of Santiago as the songs of executed Chilean musician Victor Jara reverberated in the biggest demonstrations seen for generations. 

But the government responded by imposing a curfew with the military mobilised for the first time since the fall of the Pinochet dictatorship.

Thousands were arrested with reports of rape and torture in police custody. Security forces are under investigation for a number of deaths, including alleged assassinations by the military and police.

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