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Argentina Invites Media to Former Torture Center Ahead of 16 Days Global Campaign

Global Press Institute - Wed, 30 Nov 2011 10:00 GMT
Author: Global Press Institute
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BUENOS AIRES, ARGENTINA - The Secretariat of Public Communication, a government body, hosted journalists from around the world last week to a conference emphasizing the role of the media in promoting and defending human rights. Part of the day included a tour of the former Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada, ESMA, an army training school that functioned as a detention, torture and disappearance center during the last military dictatorship, which ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Human rights organizations estimate that about 30,000 people were disappeared. ESMA is considered the most emblematic of the 500 concentration camps erected around the country because it operated during the entire dictatorship, said tour guide Debora Traverso of the Instituto Espacio para la Memoria, an organization established by the government to remember this period of state terrorism and to promote human rights. About 5,000 prisoners passed through ESMA, with only 200 surviving, Traverso said. As the event was held leading up to the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, a global campaign to end gender violence, many remember the thousands of women who were tortured and murdered here - and those who remain missing. Women detained here were forced to dress up and go out to dinner or go dancing with their oppressors. They were hit, tortured and raped. Pregnant women were forced to give birth in their cells and to hand over their babies, which were then given to the families or friends of their captors, Traverso said. After the tour, representatives from the governments and human rights organizations of the member countries of the Mercado Común del Sur, an economic and political bloc of South American states, spoke to the members of the media in attendance. They pledged their commitment to avoiding future abuses against human rights in the region and asked the international media present to disseminate what happened in Argentina in order to raise awareness and to avoid similar events from occurring around the world. A photo essay.

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