April 23, 2014

Calls on the army to defend human rights

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Milani faces crucial week, as rights groups concern rise

This will be a decisive week for César Milani, whose promotion has to be ratified by the Upper House of Congress. In spite of the accusations that link him with crimes against humanity committed during the last Argentine dictatorship, Milani delivered a speech defending the democratic system and urging the Army to protect human rights.

On Friday, Milani headed a ceremony alongside Defence Minister Agustín Rossi to celebrate the graduation of 775 new military officers at the School for Non-Commissioned Officers “Sargento Cabral.”

“Thirty years after the return of democracy, you are part of an institution which defends the national constitution,” Milani said to the graduates and also called for a new role for the Army.

“We want an Argentina for all of us, where the Army can take a new place, defending all the citizens’ human rights.’

Rossi also called on the new military officers to play a democratic role as members of the Armed Forces.

“After 30 years of democracy, we should project the forces for the next generations,” Rossi said, adding: “They have to be part of a national project.”

On Tuesday, Milani’s promotion was cleared for debate at the Senate’s Appointments Committee, though opposition leaders and a group of human rights organizations urged the government to back over his designation. President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner named him as the head of the Army in July but human rights organizations, such as the Association for Former Detained-Disappeared and the Centre for Legal and Social Studies (CELS) impugned his nomination because of his human rights record.

He took part in the so-called Independence Operation, which was ordered by the Peronist government in 1975 and which set the basis for the repression that would be unleashed during the last military dictatorship that ruled the country between 1976 and 1983. There, Conscript Alberto Agapito Ledo was forcibly disappeared and Milani signed a minute declaring him a deserter, which was an euphemism used by the military officers to describe the disappeared, as CELS reported earlier this year.

Milani is also accused of having taken part in the abduction of Ramón Alfredo Olivera, a political prisoner in La Rioja province.

Days ago, CELS filed a new denunciation, linking Milani with the illegal imprisonment suffered by journalist Oscar Plutarco Schaller in La Rioja province.

Judge Daniel Rafecas is also investigating Milani for alleged embezzlement.

However, Rafecas dismissed an allegation filed by opposition leaders headed by congresswoman Elisa Carrió, who said that Milani was carrying out “interior intelligence tasks.”

It is expected that Milani’s promotion is approved by the Upper House of the Congress on Wednesday. There, Kirchnerism has the majority of the votes. However, his promotion may lead to rifts with the human rights movement, which has been a close ally of Kirchnerism for the last 10 years.

CELS, which has been opposing Milani’s promotion, is currently analyzing its next steps regarding Milani’s situation, as members of the organization explained to this newspaper.

Sources told the Herald that Mothers of Plaza de Mayo- Founding Line have been examining the case but agreed to keep silent because of the social upheaval that the country was going through last week, which included police strikes and looting.

Other sources said that HIJOS, the pro- Kirchnerite organization that gathers children of disappeared parents, was also discussing a press release to express their concern over Milani’s promotion.

AEDD, which has always been critical of the Kirchnerite administration said that they did not want a “genocidal perpetrator” to head the Army.

Conscript Ledo’s sister, Graciela Ledo, also said that she and her mother had been suffering threats and urged the judges to prosecute Milani, who appeared months ago before two federal judges in La Rioja and Tucumán provinces.

Iconic leader of Mothers of Plaza de Mayo Hebe de Bonafini, a close Kirchnerite ally, supports Milani’s designation.

Everything indicates that this is going to be a crucial week for Milani and also for the relationship between the government and the human rights movement.

Herald staff with DyN, Télam

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