La Noche de los Lápices, “The Night of the Pencils”, is known as a series of kidnappings and forced disappearances which were followed by illegal detention, torture, rape and murder. The young students who disappeared this particular night were activists during the time period of the Junta Military Government in Argentina. The kidnappings began on September 16, 1976. However, the Night of the Pencils is part of a bigger period and a symbol. Thousands of people were killed during the military junta’s time. 34 years to today, some Junta officials have been incarcerated and legal processes are still occurring. History and Justice is still being written.
On the ground: Video Report from Buenos Aires on the 34th Night of the Pencils
On the Night of the Pencils, part of the “Union of High School Students of La Plata” (Union de Estudiantes Secundarios de La Plata) along with other organisations protested and actively demanded for reform. The testimonies given by the survivors of the Night of the Pencils indicated that the kidnappings were the consequences of their protest and activism. They became part of those who fell under a military systematic oppression that killed, tortured, and whisked away thousands of people. During the junta years some activists managed to escape, others found exile in distant countries and others simply survived.
Still today, the consciousness of this dark period of military dictatorship weighs heavily on all aspects of Argentinian society. The people refuse to forget and have taken to the streets in great numbers this 34th Night of the Pencils. Their demonstration was loud and clear: The pencils are still writing.
Montoneros and certain militant groups were, as in all revolutionary movements that upset society, part of a bigger scenario. Political organisations, students, activists, workers and militants are all part of the complicated history of Argentina.
In the years of the military junta, thousands of innocents dissapeared and human rights were abused. South America itself was the backstage of a revolutionary movement fueled by oppressive dictatorships. The Night of the Pencils is a symbol; a real doorway into events still worth writing about.
On the anniversary of the Night of the Pencils, remembering came side by side with new demands and criticisms for the current education system, the current government, and for the opposition. Voices spoke of a wider active participation to enable a fair system. Several universities, student groups and other organisations marched on this historical date with one eye on the past and the other eye set on a just present and future.
The following images were taken by The Sun Maker in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on September 16, 2010.
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(Cover Photo: The Sun Maker)