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  • Thousands gathered to demand the return of activist Santiago Maldonado.

    Thousands gathered to demand the return of activist Santiago Maldonado. | Photo: Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo

Published 23 August 2017

The agency urged Argentina to take the necessary measures to find him as well as to report on the investigation.

The Washington based Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, IACHR, has granted a precautionary measure for the protection of the rights of the Argentine activist, Santiago Maldonado, who disappeared on August 1.

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Maldonado went missing during a police raid against Indigenous Mapuche protesters in province of Chubut.

The agency also urged Argentina to take "the necessary measures to determine the situation and (his) whereabouts" as well as to report on the investigation of the facts.

The IACHR document states that "the life and personal integrity of Santiago Maldonado are in a situation of grave risk".

It also acknowledges the allegations in the case, claiming that the young man "was subjected to forced disappearance (...) while being beaten and charged to a white van, during a police operation."

Earlier, eleven human rights groups criticized the government of President Mauricio Macri over the incident.

The organizations spoke at a press conference after a meeting with Justice Minister German Garavano and Security Secretary Patricia Bullrich, whom they blame for allegedly covering up his disappearance.

According to Estela de Carlotto, president of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, the officials denied that they knew anything about what happened to him while ruling out any state involvement.

"We have come out worse than how we entered, they continue to lie to us," Estela de Carlotto said. "They continue to deny the forced disappearance of Santiago."

The group, made up of Argentine women whose children and grandchildren disappeared during the country's military dictatorship from 1976 to 1983, has now vowed to find Maldonado alive and return him to his family.

De Carlotto said the current executive branch "is endangering democracy." 

In the meeting with the organizations, Bullrich denied that the case of Santiago Maldonado was a forced disappearance. 

The organization HIJOS Capital denounced officials for leaving the meeting when Lita Boitano, head of Relatives of Detained and Missing Persons, accused the government of knowing where Maldonado was and not saying anything.

Maldonado was visiting the Indigenous community of Pu Lof in the Chubut department on Aug. 1, when the village was attacked by the Argentine Military Police. The activist was meeting with fellow supporters of the Cushamen Resistance

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The police force sought to disperse a protest on ancestral lands given to the multinational company Benetton. Witnesses said they saw officers shove the 28-year-old into a van and drive away, but the government denies involvement.

Taty Almeida, a member of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, said her organization will travel to Chubut to "be with the Mapuches" and "continue to denounce here and abroad human rights violations by this government." 

After increased pressure from Mapuche activists, human rights groups and the United Nations, the government has announced a reward of about US$28,000 for information about his whereabouts. 

Meanwhile, Security Secretary Patricia Bullrich accused the Maldonado family of not collaborating with the investigation, claiming they "did not agree to work together."

His family issued a statement saying that they feared for his life at the hands of the military police.

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