Thursday, March 29, 2012

Chileans Mourn Death of Daniel Zamudio (Updated)

There has been widespread outrage in Chile and growing criticism worldwide over the death of a teenager who was brutally beaten possibly due to his sexual orientation.

Friends and family of Daniel Zamudio gathered at his home in a Santiago neighborhood this morning to honor the memory of the teen that died on Tuesday night. As you can see in the following video via CNN Chile, Zamudio’s family has received support from neighbors and strangers and is also seeking funds in order to pay for his funeral on Saturday:

Zamudio had been hospitalized for nearly a month after he was attacked while walking through a local park. He never woke up from the induced coma doctors placed on him as a result of his extensive injuries including severe head trauma and a broken right leg.

Among those condemning the attack against Zamudio was Antonio Molpeceres, the U.N.’s envoy to Chile who decried the “full violation against the human rights of all peoples based on their sexual orientation or gender.” Meanwhile, musician Ricky Martin dedicated an award from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation to Zamudio and his family.

Police arrested four neo-Nazis suspected of attacking Zamudio due to his homosexuality and yesterday persecutors added pre-meditated murder to the list of charges against them. The new charges carry life sentences though some gay rights activists have sought that the accused are charged with torture since the attackers reportedly “beat Zamudio for hours, burned him with cigarettes and carved Nazi symbols into his body”.

The lawyer for Patricio Ahumada Garay, the alleged ringleader of attackers, at first claimed that he had “key witnesses” who can testify to the innocence of his client. Yet he later noted that the whereabouts of these “witnesses” and their real names (rather than the nicknames Ahumada knows them as) is unknown.

Zamudio’s death has led to a push for a comprehensive anti-discrimination law that would include the recognition of hate crimes. Local gay rights organizations as well as conservative President Sebastián Piñera have backed such a plan. But a possible “Zamudio Law” has run into opposition from some right-wing legislators such as Sen. Juan Antonio Coloma who declared that such a proposal “will lead directly to same sex marriages.”

According to the I Love Chile News website, an attack similar to the one that targeted Zamudio occurred recently:
This has been the second of a similar recent Neo-Nazi attack. In Valparaiso three tourists from Canada, Ukraine and Belgian were victimized due to racism. According to a witness the attack came out of nowhere in the middle of the street.

The young Beligan tourist, Karel Draye, told the manager at a hostel in Bella Vista that the four attackers started to punch his friend because he was black. When his two friends intervened, they were attacked too. The four skin-heads shouted, “White power!” during the assault. Although this assault was not nearly as savage as the one that took the life of Daniel Zamudio, it is a disturbing reminder of the ever-present problem of racism.
Update: According to Chile's La Nacion's website at least two other teens alleged that they were victims of possible bias attacks.

An adolescent in Quilicura said that she was attacked in her home by an unknown assailant who insulted her for her sexual orientation and falsely accused her of making neo-Nazi insults.

Another girl, a 17-year-old lesbian from Valdivia, claimed that she was beaten up and burnt with cigarette butts after attending a vigil for Zamudio.

Video Source – YouTube via CNN Chile

Online Sources (including Update) – Huffington Post, Fox News Latino, La Nacion, CBS News, La Tercera, Santiago Times, I Love Chile News

No comments: