Quayside protest at Chile’s Esmeralda ‘torture’ prison ship arriving at Millwall Docks
PUBLISHED: 09:45 02 September 2015 | UPDATED: 16:29 02 September 2015
A Chilean naval training vessel once said to have been used as a “prison torture ship” by the Pinochet regime has been faced with protests since its arrival at the Millwall Docks in east London at the weekend.
British priest father Michael Woodward was one of “at least 140 detainees” imprisoned aboard the Esmeralda who vanished during the Pinochet dictatoriship 40 years ago, members of the Memoriaviva human rights group claim.
Fr Woodward’s body was never recovered, despite four decades of campaigning by his family and ex-patriot members of the protest group who turned up to demonstrate against the “goodwill” visit to Britain by the Chilean Navy.
“The Esmeralda is a living monument to atrocities of Pinochet’s dictatorship,” the London-based group’s Jimmy Bell said.
“The Chilean Navy has never apologized for the human rights abuse in the 40 years since Pinochet’s rule.”
The campaigners claim the ship was the site of “torture and murder” of at least 40 women and 100 men in September, 1973, who were caught up in Pinochet’s military coup which overthrew the elected Allende government.
Amnesty International plans to continue protests around the world until the human rights violations on board the ship are clarified and “those responsible brought to justice”.