In Chile, one thousand five hundred students went on hunger strike on Thursday (17 May), to protest against the arrest of fellow students during the May Day demonstrations.
In Chile, one thousand five hundred students went on hunger strike on Thursday (17 May), to protest against the arrest of fellow students during the May Day demonstrations. Nearly four hundred people were arrested in Santiago on May the first, after violent clashes with the police -- but many of them were released afterwards.
SYNOPSIS: The one-day hunger strike was held on the campus of Chile's National University in Chile's National University in Santiago. A student leader told the assembled crowd that the university was not fulfilling its role -- that of providing a forum for the free expression of ideas.
About twenty thousand of the country's fifty-four thousand students were expected to take part in the hunger strike. But, shortly before it was due to start, Chile's military government released thirty-nine students, leaving seventeen still in detention. Because of this last minute reprieve on the part of the authorities, many students felt that there was no longer any need for the protest.
Finally, only a fraction of the original estimate turned up. The May Day arrests came during a mass rally, in which thousands of people demanded an end to government restrictions on trade unions.
In April, another rally was held, during which sixty-four people were arrested. Then, many demonstrators chained themselves to buildings and demanded information about missing relatives whom they claim were abducted by military police. A United Nations report, issued in march, said that more than six hundred people were detained by the Chilean government during 1978 and are still missing. But police did not attempt to break up this hunger strike, and the one-day protest ended as peacefully as it had begun.