Saturday, 12 September 2009

In remembrance - September 11th

On September 11th 1973, a military coup toppled the democratically elected president of Chile, Salvador Allende.

By 7 AM, the Navy had seized Chile's major port, and shut down radio and television stations. The Army closed down most of these in the capital, with the Air Force bombing the rest.

By 9 AM, the armed forces controlled all of Chile but the area around the presidential palace. Allende refused to negotiate and gave a final speech telling the nation about the coup d'etat, and his refusal to resign.

The palace was bombed, and then assaulted by infantry and armour. Allende died, probably by suicide, possibly shot. Around sixty people died on the day.

The military then arrested and imprisoned 40,000 in the National Stadium. It lost 160 and killed thousands in the next few months, and another few thousand were killed by the subsequent Pinochet regime during the next seventeen years. Pinochet tortured tens of thousands during this period.

The population of Chile was under 10 million at the time of the coup.

Two days after the coup, 13th September 1973, the military junta dissolved Congress and banned all political activity. Democratic rule was not restored until 1990.

Also on this day, 11th September 1982, the Multinational Force in Lebanon (consisting of French, Americans and Italians) guaranteeing the safety of Palestinian refugees was withdrawn from Beirut.

Four days later, the Israeli Defense Force surrounded the Sabra-Shatila camps, and started shelling them. The Israelis let 1500 Lebanese Phalangist militia enter the camps. Over the next 48 hours, between 16th and 18th September, the militia murdered hundreds of civilians, including deliberate killings of women and children. The IDF were ordered not to interfere.

The IDF estimates 700-800 civilians were killed, the Red Crescent and journalists estimate over 2000, possibly up to 3500.

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