Thousands of Argentineans have taken to the streets in several cities, urging the government to secure the safe return of an indigenous human rights activist, who is said to have disappeared while in police custody.
The demonstrators marched on Plaza de Mayo Square in front of the presidential palace in the capital, Buenos Aires, on Friday, calling on the government to do more to find 28-year-old Santiago Maldonado, a month after he was taken into police custody during an indigenous-rights demonstration in the country’s south.
On August 1, Maldonado traveled to Argentina’s Chubut Province in the southern region of Patagonia to join a protest against the eviction of Mapuche indigenous group from lands owned by Italian clothing company, Benetton, and was reportedly detained by security forces for blocking a road. He has not been seen since then.
Thousands gather at Plaza de Mayo Square during a demonstration in Buenos Aires on September 1, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Many of the human rights activists and members of social and political organizations participating in the Friday march had pictures of Maldonado on their shirts, holding banners and placards that read, “Where is Santiago Maldonado? The state is responsible.”
Brother of the missing activist, Sergio Maldonado, who was among the protesters, said, “Santiago disappeared after violent repression in the Mapuche community, so it is the authorities that have to give an answer. From the outset, they looked for him as a lost person and he is not lost. He was disappeared.”
Similar rallies were also held in other Argentinean cities, demanding official investigation into the fate of Maldonado.
People march during a protest for Santiago Maldonado during a demonstration called by human rights associations asking for his whereabouts, in downtown Cordoba, Argentina, on September 1, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch as well as the UN have said the activist’s disappearance requires urgent action from Argentine President Mauricio Macri.
Macri’s government has offered a reward of almost 30,000 dollars for information on Maldonado’s disappearance.
His bohemian look is becoming the symbol of the indigenous people’s rights and alleged government repression.

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