United Board of Missions in Argentina Condemns Police Brutality and Systemic Injustice Against Indigenous Communities in El Chaco, Argentina
More than fifteen police officers from the Third Police Station of Fontana, an Argentinian city, located in Chaco Province in northern Argentina, were caught on film and accused of forcing their entry into a house of a family from the Qom community located in the Bandera Argentina neighborhood. Once inside the house, they hit its occupants, including women, youth, and minors. It seems to be that they were looking for several young men who would have stoned the police station, four blocks away. The violent police action -which obtained an almost unanimous repudiation- began with that illegal raid against the family and ended with four young people detained and tortured, with their relatives beaten for trying to defend them and a 16-year-old minor in shock due to vexations of being investigated.
The United Board of Missions Federation of Argentina (“Junta Unida de Misiones,” or JUM as its acronym in Spanish), one of Global Ministries’ Partners in that country, condemned the act of police through a public statement. On its declaration, JUM demanded a detailed and reasonable investigation, administratively and judicially, where the responsibilities of all persons involved in these events, especially those responsible for each area of government, are determined. They also claimed that the State, in its three powers, take concrete actions to eradicate institutionalized racism. As JUM clearly stated in its statement, “the dismissal and prosecution of the police officers involved are not enough. Public policies should be implemented in all state institutions that guarantee the human rights of Indigenous Peoples.
JUM also recalled how they warned the Chaco Provincial State several times regarding the growing risks faced by Indigenous Peoples in the region. They have raised grave concerns on territorial and environmental conflicts associated with extensive extraction of natural resources, which in turn have a direct impact on the right to food, water, and health. JUM stressed the importance of the Indigenous Peoples’ protection of nature and highlighted that respecting the link between them and their territories is fundamental to their existence.
Regarding the COVID-19 crisis, JUM stated that “public institutions should prevent and ensure psychophysical security without differencing by gender, ethnicity, or economic status. On the contrary, they exercise unconstitutional discrimination and promote stigmatization and criminalization by “tagging” vulnerable peoples as part of the spread of COVID-19. This discourse, unfortunately, is multiplied through several media outlets. The impact on the individual, social, and even institutional behaviors are alarming.”
The United Board of Missions is sponsored by the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) in Argentina, The Evangelical Methodist Church of Argentina, the Waldesian Church of River Plate and Evangelical Church of River Plate.