IF THERE ARE POLITICAL PRISONERS,
THERE IS NO DEMOCRACY
TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE ARGENTINE REPUBLIC
We, the undersigned, demand the immediate release of the social leader and deputy of Parlasur Milagro Sala and the other political prisoners and prisoners of the organization Tupac Amaru. We thus join a growing number of voices around the world – such as the United Nations, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the Organization of American States, and organizations such as Amnesty International, the Center for Social Legal Studies, Grandmothers of Plaza De Mayo, Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Founding Line, the Permanent Assembly for Human Rights, Human Rights Watch, among others – who have called on the Government that you preside to end the arbitrary imprisonment of Mrs. Milagro Sala.
The state of Argentina should put an end to its violations of human rights and uphold a firm commitment to never again use arbitrary imprisonment as a form of persecution, discipline, and repression of political dissent.
THE CASE: POLITICAL PRISONERS IN ARGENTINA.
It is not just Milagro: They are 12 political prisoners. Milagro Sala has been unjustly imprisoned since January 16th 2016. For over 500 days she has been held as a political prisoner. Sala is just one of twelve such prisoners currently in being held in Argentina’s provinces of Jujuy and Mendoza on trumped-up charges in response to their political activism. Also, nine of the twelve are women.
Milagro Sala is one of Argentina’s most important social leaders: a woman of Indigenous descent and an outspoken activist for social justice and human welfare. The organization Tupac Amaru -of which she is founder and leader- serves tens of thousands of members across the country. Such organization, which has been recognized as a model for the integration of women and other minorities in the most influential spaces of community organising, was born in the northern province of Jujuy – one of the poorest in the country according to official government statistics – in 1999, and is widely present in the argentinean northwest territories, particularly in the poorest barrios (neighborhoods) in provinces like San Salvador de Jujuy, Salta, Tucumán, Mendoza, Chaco and Corrientes, among others. Throughout the last couple of decades, its impact has been extremely relevant, securing benefits and entitlements to the most marginalized sectors of the population, including health services, education, housing and basic nutrition, creating resentment on the part of the provincial government.
She was arbitrarily arrested more than 18 months ago when taking part in an protest encampment in front of the Province’s government building, demanding a meeting with the authorities after the loss of work of 20,000 co-operative members. The governor of the province Gerardo Morales, a close ally within the party of the Argentine President Mauricio Macri, refuses to obey and pays no attention to the insisting call to stop the political persecution. According to well known reporters, Morales assured that he “had 60 other accusations prepared to present in case she is absolved of the current ones.
This is not how justice works. Justice and democracy are at threat when courts and jails are used as tools to silence the voices of political opposition.
The United Nation’s Workgroup on Arbitrary Detention has denounced “a system of consecutive accusations and court cases that maintain Sala’s detention indefinitely and violate judicial independence.” The report continues by stating that there is no legal justification for her detention, since “it has not been demonstrated that there is a risk of escape or of obstruction of the investigation.” The Group also stated that is the responsibility of the Federal Government to guarantee that all the international responsibilities are observed within its jurisdiction, adding that the federal structure of the country should not be an obstacle to assure the effective fulfillment of the obligations assumed by Argentina.
Today is her. Tomorrow it could be you.