On July 27, Amnesty International Chile delivered over 206,000 signatures gathered from 40 countries calling for justice for Gustavo Gatica during Write for Rights 2020. Gustavo was blinded in 2019 after he was shot by police during a protest in Chile.
Gustavo himself joined Amnesty staff for the handover — their first offline event since the pandemic began — where he also received thousands of written and voice solidarity messages. He expressed gratitude to the hundreds of thousands of supporters who joined his fight for justice:
We are here demanding justice for my case and for all those whose human rights were violated during the protests. Today we delivered more than 206,000 signatures asking the prosecutor’s office to investigate. Afterwards, these signatures will go to Carabineros (national police) trying to speed up the cases of human rights violations and to let the institutions know that the world is aware of what has happened in Chile, that this has not been forgotten and that we will continue calling for justice. “
Gustavo and staff met with the Jorge Abbott, National Prosecutor and target of our global campaign, who expressed solidarity with Gustavo and committed to keeping commanders within the scope of their investigations. This is a truly promising step towards our goal of holding commanders to account.
Amnesty and Gustavo also delivered the signatures to the Carabineros (national police) offices, where they left a hefty 13-volume stack of signatures for the current General Director, Ricardo Yáñez, who is also a target of our global campaign, as well as one of the commanders who should be investigated for his role and responsibility during the period of social unrest.
Thank you for the solidarity, creativity and dedication to supporting Gustavo and all other victims of police violence. Amnesty will continue pushing for police commanders to be held accountable so this never happens again.
In November 2019, amid widespread concern over rising costs of living and inequality, people across Chile came out in protest demanding “dignity”. The world watched as millions demonstrated their yearning for change in the country. But they were met with excessive force by the authorities, and police officers loaded their guns with metal and rubber ammunition.
On the 8th November, Gustavo Gatica, a 21-year-old student of psychology and an avid fan of music and photography joined the protests. Police fired into the crowds aiming at the upper body of protesters, and Gustavo was shot in both eyes. He was blinded permanently.
According to the Prosecutor’s investigation, the two metal and rubber bullets removed from Gustavo Gatica’s eyes match the ammunition used by the Carabineros. This ammunition was used indiscriminately and disproportionately on countless occasions during the protests, in violation of international standards on the use of force.
Even after enduring these injuries, Gustavo hopes that his blindness will help the world see what is happening in Chile; “I gave my eyes so people would wake up.”