Police in Dominican Republic violently disperse peaceful protests

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SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic –The police violently dispersed a peaceful protest against corruption in the Dominican Republic’s capital, Santo Domingo, on Tuesday. Protestors are at risk of further attacks as they plan to continue demonstrating.

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About 30 people from the anti-corruption coalition of civil society organizations Citizens’ Power (Poder Ciudadano) staged a peaceful human chain protest on Tuesday outside the institution in charge of supervising the constructions of public buildings, the Office of Engineers Supervising the State’s Public Works (Oficina de Ingenieros Supervisores de Obras del Estado – OISOE) in the capital, Santo Domingo, at around 4pm.

An hour later, more than 100 police officers broke up the demonstration violently, using pepper spray on some of the protesters.

According to the president of the human rights organization National Commission of Human Rights (Comisión Nacional de los Derechos Humanos – CNDH), who was among the demonstrators, the police made no attempt to negotiate with the demonstrators and immediately used force on them.

Citizens’ Power has been holding demonstrations every Wednesday afternoon to call for an investigation into allegations made at the end of September that several OISOE officers are corrupt. The ministry of the interior and the police have repeatedly refused to allow these demonstrations to be held outside the OISOE and confined them to a nearby area, despite a judgement by the Administrative Supreme Court recognizing the protestors’ right to demonstrate peacefully outside the office.

The demonstration on Tuesday had been organized without giving notice to the authorities, in protest at their refusal to comply with the court ruling. Citizens’ Power is planning to continue holding human chains on Wednesdays and surprise protests. They fear further repression by the police.

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