The violent police invasion of Qom community dwellings in Banderas Argentinas, Chaco, has sparked outrage.
The events became known after photos and videos of police officers from the Third Precinct in Fontana savagely beating up a youth after raiding his home went viral via Revista Cítrica.
The operation, which included torture, threats and even sexual abuse, was repudiated by President Alberto Fernández, Security Minister Sabina Frederic and Human Rights Secretary Horacio Pietragalla, among others.
Last Tuesday the Chaco provincial Security Ministry fired the policemen involved.
Speaking over the telephone with , Fortunato, the uncle of three of the assaulted youths, gave details of that dawn attack.
"We were taken a block and a half away and not allowed to come near. They told us to stay inside and aimed their guns at us," said the 51-year-old, recalling events.
"We heard the first shots. All the neighbours on that block started to get up and look around. The cries were like a shoot-out,” he explained.
According to the denunciation made by relatives, local police entered the home of Elsa Fernández and arrested a girl of 16 and a youth of 19, taking them away. They also arrested a girl of 18 and another lad of 20. The detainees were beaten to the point of disfigurement and tortured at the precinct, the complaint states.
"Yoana, my sister-in-law, told me that she had been checking up on Ale [one of the youths arrested] and that he was badly beaten up with no place on his body unmarked —head, cheekbones, eyes, back, arms, ankles,” said Fortunato.
“This began inside our homes when they took them out to the patio and were already starting to beat them up. It’s always the same" with the police in the community, he added.
Seeking to justify the unjustifiable, the policemen argued that they were attacked with stones and "blunt objects" at the precinct and that they started the raid "in order to calm the situation."
"They say that there were around 30 people [attacking]. If it was 30, it would be half the neighbourhood. It’s funny because they have no more arguments," said the uncle.
"When they called my sister-in-law Yoana to go to the precinct, the police told her that they grabbed her son around the corner because he was throwing stones. They did not imagine that there would be a video showing the police dragging him out of the house.
“They organised a circus. They planted an old butcher’s knife and got together stones and some other things which supposedly had been thrown. It was totally false, nothing to do with reality," he detailed.
After the events, residents were angry, said Fortunato. He anticipates that locals will take to the streets with women’s groups, in the wake of allegations one of the girls was sexually abused at the police station.
"It all happened at the precinct. They threw alcohol on the girls and said about one of them: 'Who dares set this Indian on fire?'" he assures.
Fortunato has five children and says he is scared.
"I have children, one of them 19, he could go on an errand and they could grab him in the street. I fear for them,” he concluded.