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Last Updated: Friday, 6 October 2006, 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK
Argentina rights trials condemned
Protester holding a picture of a soldier
Protesters say they are the forgotten victims of the violence
Thousands of people have taken part in a demonstration against the Argentine government's human rights policies.

Among the protesters were relatives of the hundreds of members of the security forces killed by left-wing rebels during the 1976-1983 military regime.

They accuse the president of focusing solely on abuses committed against opponents of the military rulers.

The recent trials of security force members have re-opened old wounds, the BBC's Daniel Schweimler says.

The rally in Buenos Aires, our correspondent adds, has provoked an intense debate, with many critics accusing the organisers of being apologists for a government responsible for a reign of terror which saw an estimated 30,000 people kidnapped, tortured and killed.

Behind bars

"I'm a patriot - a descendant of the people who founded this country. And I suffered the pain a lot from one side and the other. There's not just one side, there's two sides - there was terrorism here," one protester said.

Former military leader Reynaldo Bignone sent a message of support to the rally suggesting that activists finish off the work the military could not.

The comments were described as despicable by Interior Minister Anibal Fernandez, who said Mr Bignone could be prosecuted for inciting violence.

A massive police contingent kept at bay a counter-demonstration held nearby by those who favour the renewed human rights trials.

When civilian rule returned to Argentina in 1983, many military officers were tried and imprisoned for the kidnap, torture and killing of tens of thousands of people.

But subsequent civilian governments passed laws which allowed the guilty men to walk free.

The Argentine Supreme Court last year overturned those laws, and recent months have seen new trials and the first killers put behind bars.


SEE ALSO
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06 Sep 06 |  Americas
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30 Aug 06 |  Americas
Argentina holds 'Dirty War' trial
21 Jun 06 |  Americas
Argentina to open secret archives
23 Mar 06 |  Americas
Q&A: Argentina's grim past
14 Jan 05 |  Americas
Timeline: Argentina
31 Dec 04 |  Country profiles



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