Elle Hunt “Pinochet's torture ship sails into Sydney, sparking protests” https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/nov/05/pinochets-torture-ship-sails-into-sydney-sparking-protests
Considered a national symbol of Chile, it is used as a sail training vessel by the country’s navy and spends about half the year sailing around the world. It was last in Sydney in 2012.
But its tours have sparked controversy after a series of human rights reports revealed that the ship was used to detain victims of the Augusto Pinochet’s regime in September 1973*2.
A 1986 US Senate report suggesting that as many as 112 people – including 40 women – were held on the ship, with rape, electric shocks, mock executions and beatings among the crimes reportedly carried out on board.
In 2003 Amnesty International urged Chile’s government and navy to acknowledge serious human rights violations committed on the boat*4. In light of its bloody history, its continued use has prompted quayside protests around the world.
The Chile Solidarity Committee, a Sydney-based organisation of about 50 people, intends to protest against the vessel’s appearance on Saturday.
An organiser, Vlaudin Vega, said the Esmeralda had been used as a “torture chamber” in 1973 but the Chilean navy had never acknowledged that chapter in the ship’s history.
“We need to tell the world, the Australian people, that in this vessel crimes were committed and the navy needs to respond.”
More than 330 crew are onboard the ship. Vega suggested that, because of their age, many would be unaware of its history.
He said removing the ship from service would be a symbolic gesture that would help the Chilean community to “heal those wounds” of Pinochet’s regime, though that might require a “more radical government” in Chile.
“Regardless of what the present purpose of the ship is, crimes were committed there,” he said. “People got killed there.
“[The navy needs] to take into account what happened to the most prestigious ship that they have … There’s no question it’s a beautiful ship but they need to retire it as a symbol of some accountability.”
*1:See also http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20090616/1245114543 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20100712/1278894145 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20110124/1295898980 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130315/1363340364 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20130413/1365822782 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20140913/1410571671 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20150122/1421931793 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160603/1464969557 http://d.hatena.ne.jp/sumita-m/20160820/1471621241
*2:See Jamie Doward “Revealed: Pinochet’s torture ship now flies the flag for Chile around the world” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/aug/29/pinochet-torture-chile-ship
*3:See Giles Tremlett “My 35-year fight to find Pinochet torturers who killed my brother” https://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/nov/09/pinochet-chile-michael-woodward-valpara-so