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Sunday, 25 March, 2001, 06:47 GMT
Argentina remembers Dirty War
Mothers at the demonstration
The mothers have held weekly demonstrations

By James Reynolds in Buenos Aires

Thousands of people demonstrated in Buenos Aires on Saturday to mark the 25th anniversary of the coup which brought in seven years of military rule.

They were commemorating the estimated 30,000 people who disappeared under the military regime.

For my grandson, it was a great shock to find out the truth: that he was adopted by a military family, that his real mother had been killed

Rosa Roisinblit
Several former members of the military junta have been stripped of their immunity and now face possible charges of kidnapping the babies of political prisoners.

The coup was the start of Argentina's Dirty War - a war by any means against those opposed to the regime.

'Sad act'

In a statement on Saturday, President Fernando de la Rua described the coup as a "sad act in Argentina's history".

Army tanks
The 1976 coup marked the start of the dirty war
The president described the demonstrations as "a resounding rejection by the country of the interruption of constitutional order, which left a painful and murderous stain on the past".

A number of Latin American musical stars, including the Cuban, Pablo Milanes, gave a benefit concert in aid of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo - a pressure group campaigning to find the whereabouts of the disappeared.

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo - mothers of those killed during Argentina's years of military rule - have held similar demonstrations every week for more than 20 years.

Their demand: truth and justice. Most are now in their 70s or 80s. They are the last campaigners of their generation.

They are joined in the human rights movement by another group, the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo.

The Grandmothers have one aim: to find their missing grandchildren.

Coming to terms

Many have stories like Rosa Roisinblit's. Her daughter Patricia was kidnapped in 1978. Patricia was eight months pregnant at the time.

She was never seen alive again.

For 22 years Rosa tried to track down her grandson. Last year, following an anonymous tip-off, she found him.

A board with pictures of the children who have been found
Seventy missing grandchildren have been found so far
"For my grandson, it was a great shock to find out the truth: that he was adopted by a military family, that his real mother had been killed.

"Now he's having to come to terms with it, it's very difficult for him."

Rosa's grandson is one of 70 missing grandchildren who have now been found. The Grandmothers are looking for hundreds more.

They and other campaigners are looking to put those responsible for human rights abuses during the dictatorship on trial.

So far two amnesty laws have prevented any trials from going ahead. But that may now change.

The country's courts have now begun to ignore the amnesty laws.

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See also:

06 Mar 01 | Americas
Amnesty case gives new hope
07 Mar 01 | Media reports
Judge's ruling sparks fierce debate
19 Aug 98 | Crossing Continents
The Living Disappeared
12 Feb 99 | From Our Own Correspondent
Argentina's missing babies
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