Footage shot by eyewitnesses, activists, and police themselves provides a tool for documentation and accountability of police abuse around the world. This week, we look at a video submitted as evidence in a probe of South Africa’s Marikana massacre that left scores of striking miners dead in 2012; footage from Argentina that has provoked questions among the public and elected officials about recent police operations; and eyewitness’ footage of Israeli soldiers’ forceful treatment of Palestinian school children.
Argentine Cop Filmed Smashing Car Windshield at July Roadbock
A video has emerged from a July 31 roadblock on the Panamerican Highway that has prompted condemnation of police conduct among high levels of national government. In the video, an officer in riot gear can be seen at 00:19 throwing himself onto a car and smashing its windshield, before officers forcefully remove and detain the driver.
Many Argentines see the video as evidence of an officer faking an accident as pretext for an arbitrary arrest. But the head of security, Sergio Berni, defended actions of the officer, identified as commander Juan Alberto López Torales, who was in charge of security operations at the roadblock. Berni told the press that Torales was not faking an accident but rather stopping drivers who presented safety hazards. Other officials disagreed. One legislator has called on Berni to explain the actions seen in the video to congress, and the Minister of National Security stated that “the use of excess force is intolerable.” However, she also said that officer Torales had not committed a crime.
Video Evidence shown to South African Commission of Inquiry
It was just over two years ago that South African police opened fire on striking workers of the Lonmin mine, killing 34 miners and injuring dozens of others. In two weeks, a total of 44 people were killed and hundreds arrested in violent clashes between miners and police and security guards. President Jacob Zuma established a commission of inquiry to investigate the events that took place, and last Thursday the commission was presented with what a lawyer described as “one of the most important pieces of real evidence that the Commission is likely to see”–a video. It was commissioned by the South African Human Rights Commission, and uses footage from police and media taken the day of the fatal clashes, edited in chronological order according to time stamps from the source material. The Times reports that the video, which has yet to be released publicly, “appears to disprove the police version of events.” For example, while the police have contended that they used lethal force only after other methods failed to stop the protest, the video shows that police discharged their assault rifles mere seconds after unleashing stun grenades, teargas, and water cannons on the workers.
For videos from the Marikana mining strike curated on the Human Rights Channel at the time, see the YouTube playlist above.
Two weeks into the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel, the opening of schools is one sign of normal life to be found in Gaza. However, what is documented in the video below from a Hebron checkpoint on September 8 illustrates the human rights abuses that characterize day-to-day life in the Palestinian territories.
As reported by the International Solidarity Movement, the video shows IDF soldiers responding to rocks thrown at them by children by detaining a 7-year-old boy who was on his way to school. The Israeli human rights organization B’tselem has also documented killings and detentions of Palestinian children by Israeli soldiers for several years. For more videos documenting the brutal treatment of Palestinian children by the IDF, see this video page on the B’tselem website.