Amancay Diana Sacayan is a trans activist who has been very active in protesting police brutality in Buenos Aires province and also in social justice issues for a number of years. On July 10, 2004, she and her sister, Johana, were arrested. Police officers told them that the Deputy Commissioner at Police Station 4 wanted "to see them". As both trans women had been arrested and harassed by officers from that Station many times, they refused to go. Then, police officers employed unnecessary force to take both trans women to the police station. First, they were charged with "prostitution" and days later with "resistance to authorities, injuries and damages". Johana was released on October 28, 2004 but Diana is still being held in jail.
Many activists believe that the real reason for the arrest is Diana's involvement in denouncing police brutality against transvestites in the area where she lives. Diana has met with government officers on several occasions and has provided them with documentation to support her claims.
Please write TODAY to the following authorities demanding the immediate release of Amancay Diana Sacayan and a quick and fair investigation of her claims.
- Governor of the Buenos Aires Province
Mr. Felipe Carlos Sola
Calle 6 e/51 y 53 (1900)
La Plata, Provincia de Buenos Aires
Fax (54 11) 429-4100/01 (ask "por favor, deme senial de fax")
- Human Rights Secretary – Buenos Aires Province
- Mr. Remo Gerardo Carlotto
Calle 53 N°653 (1900)
La Plata, Provincia de Buenos Aires
Fax: (54 11) 489-3960/61/62/63/64/65/66 (ask "por favor, deme senial de fax")
- Human Rights Protection and Promotion Department – Buenos Aires Province
- Mr. Enrique Pochat – Director
And please send a copy to local activists at
Queer Studies Area – Buenos Aires University
You will find a model letter written by local activists below, followed by its translation into English. We suggest that you send the Spanish version, to make communication with authorities easier.
Gobernador o Director
De nuestra consideración:
Por la presente nos dirigimos a Ud. con el fin de solicitarle la libertad y desprocesamiento inmediato de Amancay Diana Sacayan. La misma fue detenida de manera arbitraria por la Comisaría 4 del Partido de La Matanza en la Provincia de Buenos Aires, a cuya administración ud. pertenece.
Sabemos que la detención y posterior procesamiento y encarcelamiento de Amancay Diana Sacayan, dirigente social y travesti de la Prov. de Buenos Aires no fue casual. Sacayan había realizado repetidas denuncias contra esa Comisaría por una serie de detenciones y hostigamiento por el solo hecho de defender su identidad travesti. Es así como sin explicación alguna se la quizo obligar a concurrir a la Comisaría en cuestión sin mediar ninguna razón, hecho ante el cual la compañera no aceptó y fue procesada y encarcelada en el mes de julio de 2004.
La detención y procesamiento de Amancay Diana Sacayán constituye una clara violación de los derechos más básicos de una persna y es un ejemplo más de la criminalización de la identidad travesti y transexual en la Provinicia que ud. administra.
Por todo lo anterior solicitamos la inmediata libertad y desprocesamiento de Amancay Diana Sacayan, la derogación de los perversos edictos policiales, el fin de la persecución policial y el cumplimiento del Tratado Abolicionista en materia de prostitución que nuestro país firmó en la década del 50.
Sin otro particular, lo saludamos atte.
We are writing to request the immediate release of Amancay Diana Sacayan and the dismissal of charges against her. Ms. Sacayan was arbitrarily arrested and detained by officers from Police Station 4, La Matanza District, in Buenos Aires province, the territory over which your administration has responsibility.
We believe that the arrest and later indictment of Amancay Diana Sacayan, a social justice and transvestite activist in Buenos Aires Province was not a coincidence. Ms. Sacayan had denounced that particular Police Station on several occasions, after suffering a series of arbitrary arrests and harassment based on her transvestite identity in 2003 and 2004. On July 10, 2004, without any explanation whatsoever, police officers attempted to arrest her and take her to the Police Station. When she refused to go, she was taken by force, and then indicted and charged..
Amancay Diana Sacayan's arrest and indictment constitute a clear violation to the individual's most fundamental rights to be free from arbitrary arrest and detention. Moreover, it is one more example of how transvestite and transsexual identities are criminalized in the Province under your administration.
For all the stated reasons, we request the immediate release of Amancay Diana Sacayan and that charges against her be dropped. We also request the repeal of police edicts, the end of police persecution (against transvestites) and the enforcement of the Abolitionist Treaty on prostitution ratified by Argentina in the 1950s.
On July 10, 2004, Amancay Diana and Johana Scayan –two sisters who are both transvestite activists- were arrested by two police officers from Police Station 4 in Laferrere, La Matanza District, Buenos Aires Province, Argentina. Both are active in M.A.L. (Antidiscriminatory Liberation Movement) – a left wing GLBTTI group. Amancay Diana is also involved with M.T. L. (Land Liberation Movement), a group of unemployed people struggling for land, and with the Communist Party.
Policemen told the Sacayan sisters that the Deputy Commissary wanted to see them. The sisters refused to enter the police vehicle and struggled with the officers when they tried to force them in. Finally, the policemen prevailed and both trans women were taken by force to the Police Station. At first, they were charged with a contravention, as if they had been "offering themselves for sex" in public. But then more serious charges were pressed against them: "Resistance to authorities, injuries and damages". Release on bail was denied and the sisters will stand trial soon.
Three months later, on October 28, 2004, and as a result of the tireless efforts by activists and left-wing MP Leon Zimmerman, the charges of "injuries and damages" against Johana were dropped. However, while Johana was released from jail, she will still be required to stand trial on the charge of "resistance to authority".
Diana is still being held in jail. A coalition lead by the Queer Studies Area at Buenos Aires University, ALITT (a transsexual and transvestite organization whose leader, Lohana Berkins, was awarded our Felipa de Souza Award in 2003), and M.A.L has been staging demonstrations and other initiatives to obtain her release. It has also been collecting food and clothes for Diana, as the situation in the Buenos Aires Province's jails is extremely difficult for inmates who have no financial means of their own.
Activists believe that the the arrests are connected to the work that both Diana and Johana have done to show a pattern of police brutality in the area where they live. Between them, the two trans women have submitted 11 complaints against Police Station 4 for arbitrary arrests suffered either by them or by other transvestites. Diana met with staff at the Buenos Aires Province Human Rights Secretariat on November 2003 and again in January 2004, to provide documentation to illustrate her claims. On March 2004, Diana went to the Province's Justice Minister together with other GLTTBI organizations to expose police brutality in the Province and the pattern of harassment by police against the activists.
After the Buenos Aires Pride Parade (November 2003), Johana Sacayan was kidnapped and brutally beaten by police officers.
Earlier this year, Diana led the protest against Police Station 4 for the murder of a young man called Diego Lucena. The community of Laferrere suspects that Diego was murdered by police officers, in the context of increased police abuse against young men who are economically disadvantaged (many of this type of cases have been documented by mainstream human rights organizations).
The right to be free from arbitrary arrest or detention is protected by the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 9.1) and by the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights (Article 7.3)
The United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms (the "Declaration on Human Rights Defenders," G.A. res.53/144, U.N. Doc. U.N. Doc. A/RES/53/144 - 1999) affirms: "Everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be effectively protected under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts, including those by omission, attributable to States which result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms." (Article 12.2). The Declaration also states that "In this connection, everyone is entitled, individually and in association with others, to be protected effectively under national law in reacting against or opposing, through peaceful means, activities and acts … attributable to States that result in violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms, as well as acts of violence perpetrated by groups or individuals that affect the enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms (Article 12.3).
Argentina ratified the ICCPR in 1986, and the Interamerican Convention on Human Rights in 1984.