Chile leader urges justice on coup anniversary

2014-09-12 14:01
Michelle Bachelet. (Claudio Reyes, AFP)

Michelle Bachelet. (Claudio Reyes, AFP)

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Santiago - Chile's president marked the 41st anniversary on Thursday of the coup that brought Augusto Pinochet to power by urging those with details about crimes committed during the dictatorship to come forward.

The 11 September 1973 coup led to the overthrow of socialist president Salvador Allende.

The day of commemoration ended with clashes between protesters and police in at least seven districts of the capital Santiago.

Six police were hurt, one of them shot in the foot, and 10 demonstrator were detained, police said in a preliminary tally.

Indeed, the date remains divisive 24 years after the return of democracy in the South American country. The late Pinochet still has fervent supporters despite his regime's "dirty war" against leftist opponents, when 3 200 people were killed and 38 000 tortured.

Painful writing

"Enough of the painful waiting and unjustified silences," President Michelle Bachelet said at an emotional ceremony in the La Moneda Palace.

"It is essential that those who have relevant information surrender it, whether they're military or civilian."

About 60 former military members are currently serving prison sentences for violating human rights during the 1973-1990 regime.

Bachelet experienced the horrors of the dictatorship firsthand.

During that dark period, she was tortured, fled the country. She returned years later to work as a pediatrician, eventually entering politics.

'Terrorist act'

Her father, meanwhile, died after being tortured for remaining loyal to Allende.

During the commemoration, Bachelet also mentioned Monday's subway bombing in the capital Santiago, which wounded 14 people and was condemned as a "terrorist act" by the government.

"If there is a lesson to be learned by all, after the military coup of 1973, is that in Chile there is no room for violence," Bachelet said.

"We condemn violence in all its forms," she said, adding that Chile's citizens have the right to live in "peace and tranquillity."

On Wednesday, two homemade bombs exploded at a shopping centre in the resort city of Vina del Mar, adding to a growing climate of fear in the country.

Read more on:    augusto pinochet  |  michelle bachelet  |  chile

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