From 1976 to 1984, Argentina witnessed a period of state terrorism during which the military junta “disappeared” some 30,000 people and stole five hundred children from mothers who had been kidnapped. Mothers took to the streets to search for their children. 128 grandchildren have been found and all the officials have been tried.
Today they stood with a #FreeAlaa banner in solidarity with Alaa Abd El Fattah and all of Egypt's jailed generation.
When asked how they had survived through their period of repression, they gave this answer:
At the beginning, we were completely alone and we knew nothing; we just got together and learned.
We went out into the plaza in front of the government building and asked them, “Where are our children?” People called us the ‘mad women’ and said our children must have done something to deserve what happened.
The only thing worse than what happened to our children was society’s silence. Everybody is responsible, and people need to realise that.
Society lived in terror of the state, but we are mothers, and what could possibly be worse than our children being kidnapped?
We continued to fight, even though we knew we would lose—but we refused to fall silent until we’d won. Because we are mothers, and despite their repression of us, we had to continue because we had no other choice. We had to find ways to fulfil our children’s own struggle.
The dictatorship killed us but its repression only created more and more people who would fight it.
We went around the world, asking for assistance from abroad; UN support and foreign solidarity gave us some protection from the state.
But real power lies with the people; we needed to get the message out to the whole of Argentine society.
The achievements we see now are thanks to our struggle throughout the dictatorship, but also after the promulgation of the laws which gave amnesty to those responsible, during the later democratic period. We kept up the fight without fear, and now everybody has had to stand trial—military and civilians.
We wasted no time, we always searched for answers about what had happened to our children and grandchildren and fought for justice, because the pain was too great for us to just sit and cry over what had happened.
We fight on with love because our children fought for life and social justice.