Chile: Brutal Attack Against Offices of Trans Group; Demand Immediate Investigation and Protection for the Activists

SUMMARY

In the early hours of April 12, 2003, the headquarters of TravesChile in Santiago (transgender organization with representation in several Chilean cities) were attacked by more than 20 young men. The attackers used sticks, stones and firearms to practically destroy the place. Shots were fired in the air, valuables stolen and the trans activists present were severely beaten. The organization's vice-president, Alejandra, is currently hospitalized. Police officers took more than half an hour to reach the place and failed to arrest any of the attackers.
In the early hours of April 12, 2003, the headquarters of TravesChile in Santiago (transgender organization with representation in several Chilean cities) were attacked by more than 20 young men. The attackers used sticks, stones and firearms to practically destroy the place. Shots were fired in the air, valuables stolen and the trans activists present were severely beaten. The organization's vice-president, Alejandra, is currently hospitalized. Police officers took more than half an hour to reach the place and failed to arrest any of the attackers.
ACTION

IGLHRC joins TravesChile and MUMS (Movimiento Unido de Minorías Sexuales) in asking for urgent protest letters to be sent to the Chilean authorities demanding an investigation into the abuses denounced by the trans organization and protection to stop further violence against them.

Please write TODAY to:

Señor
José Antonio Gómez
Ministro de Justicia (Justice Minister)
E-mail: srios@minjusticia.cl
Señora
Alejandra Díaz
Government Program for Tolerance and Nondiscrimination
E-mail: tolerancia@segegob.cl

And please send a copy to TravesChile and MUMS at:

E-mail: traveschilelosandes@hotmail.com, mums@manquehue.net

MODEL LETTER
You will find below a model letter in Spanish, followed by its English translation. To make communication more effective with the authorities, we recommend you send the Spanish version.

De nuestra consideración:

Nos dirigimos a ustedes para expresarles nuestra profunda preocupación por los hechos de violencia que se produjeron el 12 de abril pasado contra la sede de la agrupación TravesChile, en la ciudad de Santiago.

Un grupo de 20 hombres atacó el local, golpeando a las activistas que allí se encontraban y disparando al aire con armas de fuego. También robaron los bienes de la organización y destrozaron sus instalaciones. Pese a haber sido alertada, la policía tardó en acudir y cuando lo hizo no detuvo a ninguno de los atacantes.

Consideramos que el hecho es preocupante, ya que TravesChile se ha ocupado de documentar y denunciar casos de abusos policiales contra personas transgénero y la presidenta de la organización, Silvia Parada, ha manifestado que la inacción policial podría tratarse en realidad de una "venganza".

El Estado chileno tiene el deber de "proteger a la población", como lo afirma la propia Constitución de Chile en su Artículo 1. La protección a las defensoras de los derechos humanos que se atreven a denunciar abusos de la autoridad contra personas que no han cometido delito alguno, sino que son violentadas por pertenecer a un grupo marginal y de escasos recursos es fundamental para garantizar un orden social justo.

Le solicitamos que, para cumplir con lo que la Constitución y los tratados internacionales ratificados por Chile estipulan en cuanto a la protección de derechos fundamentales como el derecho a la vida, a la integridad física y psíquica de la persona y a la seguridad personal, proceda usted de inmediato a:

  • Realizar una investigación exhaustiva sobre el desempeño del personal policial involucrado en los hechos del 12 de abril pasado y, de haber existido negligencia, sancionar a quienes corresponda.
  • Brindar protección a la sede de TravesChile teniendo en cuenta que este no es el primer ataque que sufre sino que en ocasiones anteriores, todas ellas debidamente denunciadas, se produjeron amenazas y hostigamientos.

Quedamos a la espera de información sobre los avances en las diligencias que le solicitamos.

Cordialmente,

(Name, organization, address)


English translation

Dear Sir/Madam,

We write to you to express our deep concern about the violent events that took place on April 12 at the headquarters of transgender organization TravesChile, in the city of Santiago.

About 20 men attacked the place, beating the activists that were there and shooting their guns into the air. The organization's property was ransacked and destroyed. The police were called onto the scene, but they came very late and failed to arrest any of the attackers.

We are very concerned about this episode, because TravesChile has documented and denounced several instances of police abuse against transgender people, and the organization's president, Silvia Parada, has said that police inaction might be in fact a "revenge".

The Chilean state has the duty to "protect the population", as the country's Constitution states in its Article 1. Protection to human rights defenders who dare to denounce abuse from the authorities against people who have not committed any crime but only belong to marginalized and impoverished groups is key to ensuring a safe and just social order.

We request that, in order to fulfill what the Constitution and international treaties ratified by Chile mandate in terms of protecting fundamental human rights like the right to life, physical and psychological integrity and personal security, you proceed immediately with the following:

  • Conduct a thorough investigation into the performance of police personnel involved in the events of April 12, and in case of discovering negligent behavior, discipline those responsible for it.
  • Provide protection to TravesChile offices, as this is not the first attack suffered by the organization. On several occasions, all of them duly denounced to the police authorities, the group has been threatened and attacked.

We look forward to hear from you about the progress made on these procedures we are requesting.

Sincerely,

(Name, organization, address)

BACKGROUND

On the night of April 11, 2003, TravesChile was hosting a party in its headquarters to raise money for one of the group's members, Cherry, who is suffering from AIDS-related cancer. The party ended on April 12, at 1 am. Trans activists were leaving the office when they saw a group of 15 men gathered at the street corner. The men started attacking those who were leaving: China's purse was stolen and Carola was beaten. The group's president, Ms. Silvia Parada, went back to the office with other activists and called the police.

Then, the attackers grew in number and about 30 men invaded the office. Activists were beaten with stones and sticks and terrified when the attackers started firing their guns to the air.

The police only arrived half an hour later, when the office had been completely ransacked. The attackers fled and the police officers were unable to catch a single one of them.

Ms. Parada considers the police inaction "a revenge" due to the fact that TravesChile has confronted the local police on more than one occasion, particularly in the case of Amanda Jofre -the transgender woman who had been raped by police officers and was then murdered (see below).

Due to their work against police harassment, TravesChile has been the targets of intimidation more than once. On July 2002, the organization denounced death threats it had received from a Police sergeant and a corporal from Santiago Police Station # 4. Activists managed to record the corporal's plate number (947521 R), but, in spite of the fact that they took their claims to the media and to authorities like the Carabineros (the name of police forces in Chile) Order and Security Department Chief, General Nelson Godoy, the case received no further investigation or resolution. Since June 28, 2002 (Pride Day), TravesChile faced an intense campaign of hate mail and death threats through their electronic mail address, but police again refused to investigate. Ms. Silvia Parada, president of TravesChile Santiago, filed a petition for investigation with the 9th Santiago Criminal Court, but to no avail.

Please see also our previous Action Alerts:

  • CHILE: UNANIMOUS ACQUITTAL of the Murderer of Transperson Amanda Jofré: Number of Unpunished Trans Murders in Chile Rises to 24. (April 11, 2003)
  • CHILE: PROTEST POLICE ABUSE AGAINST TRANSVESTITES IN LOS ANDES (February 27, 2003)
  • CHILE: POLICE AND JUSTICE FAIL TO INVESTIGATE TRANS MURDERS IN CHILE. ACT NOW TO DEMAND AN END TO IMPUNITY! (December 12, 2002)

INTERNATIONAL LEGAL FRAMEWORK

Right to life, liberty and security of person is protected by the UDHR (Article 3), by the ICCPR (Article 9) and by the IAHRC (Article 7.1). Chilean Constitution protects the rights to "life, physical and psychological integrity" in its Article 19.1

The UN Declaration Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (G.A. res.53/144, U.N. Doc. U.N. Doc. A/RES/53/144 - 1999) affirms: "Everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be effectively protected under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States which result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms" (Article 12.2). And it adds that, "In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts … attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms" (Article 12.3).

Chile has ratified the ICCPR in 1972 and the IAHRC in 1990.The UDHR is considered customary law for all Member States of the United Nations, including Chile.