The Chilean military regime is holding 7,000 prisoners rounded up in the strict political crackdown following the overthrow of President Salvador Allende.
The Chilean military regime is holding 7,000 prisoners rounded up in the strict political crackdown following the overthrow of President Salvador Allende. Many of the detainees are being held in Santiago's National Soccer Stadium, which has been converted into a makeshift prison camp.
Some of the people rounded up in the first days of the coup are now being released. Crowds of relatives wait in hope outside the stadium for days on end, anxious for news. Some wee lucky. At the weekend, 175 detainees were freed from the stadium.
But the military authorities are still arresting political suspects, and they have just issued a list of 10 most-wanted men, including leaders of the Communists, the Socialist Party and the Revolutionary Movement of the left. The new prisoners are taken to the Ministry of Defence for interrogation -- and new queues of relatives wait outside that building for information.
Some of those released have brought reports of brutal treatment at the hands of the troops interrogating them. Two Britons -- among the 244 foreigners detained in Santiago -- gave an account of their experiences in detention to British Broadcasting Corporation reporter John Humphrys:
This coverage is complete with a full commentary by John Humphrys over good natural sound. This commentary is transcribed overleaf, but provided with a new introduction.
SYNOPSIS: There have been any accusations that the prisoners are being treated brutally, and that they are the political victims of an unjust regime. But the new government, now trying to restore some sort of order to the scared centre of Santiago, denies the charges. Although some prisoners have been released, each day more are rounded un and taken to the Defence Ministry building for interrogation before being gabled. And again, lines of people wait outside the building for permission to go in and find out whether their friends and relatives who have disappeared are amongst the captives. Rumours persist of killings and executions on a large scale, though there has been no evidence of this. I talked with some women in one of the poorer districts of Santiago who were waiting in one of the interminable queues to buy bread. They have to queue for hours for many essentials. One told me she has not seen her husband for three days, and another talked of seeing bodies floating through the city. They did not want to be photographed because they are afraid of being arrested themselves.