[QODLink]
Americas

Bolivia fires hundreds of protesting soldiers

Move follows unprecedented protest by indigenous troops who say they are being discriminated against over promotions.

Last updated: 25 Apr 2014 07:16
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
The unprecedented military protest began on Tuesday with 500 soldiers, but expanded to about 1,000 [Reuters]

Bolivia's military leaders have ordered the dismissal of 702 enlisted men for sedition, after they protested that they should have the option to qualify to be raised to the rank of officer, claiming they were subjected to discrimination for being indigenous citizens. 

The army, navy and air force said in a statement on Thursday that they had ordered the dismissal of the soldiers because they "committed acts of sedition, rebellion, conducted political actions and attacked the honour of the Armed Forces," the AP news agency reported.

It cannot be that they dismiss our brothers for demanding their rights. We will expand the protest if they are not reinstituted

Samuel Coarite, indigenous leader

The unprecedented military protest began on Tuesday with 500 soldiers, but expanded to about 1,000 on Thursday.

Non-commissioned officers and sergeants marched through the capital of La Paz dressed in camouflage uniforms, together with some of their wives and Aymara indigenous leaders who supported their demands.

Protesters say the military discriminates against indigenous Bolivians, an accusation denied by defence officials.

The protesters are demanding changes so that non-commissioned officers in the military may study to become career officers.

They are also demanding the release of four protest leaders fired on Monday and say they want more medical benefits on a par with officers.

"It cannot be that they dismiss our brothers for demanding their rights. We will expand the protest if they are not reinstituted," said indigenous leader Samuel Coarite.

On Wednesday, Defence Minister Ruben Saavedra said the situation in Bolivia's armed forces is changing and that in 2015 enlisted men and sergeants will be able to receive scholarships to study the same as officers.

The protesters had asked to meet with President Evo Morales, but the Aymara president has not spoken publicly about the demonstrations.

301

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
City
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
Italy struggles to deal with growing flood of migrants willing to risk their lives to reach the nearest European shores.
Israel's Operation Protective Edge is the third major offensive on the Gaza Strip in six years.
Muslims and Arabs in the US say they face discrimination in many areas of life, 13 years after the 9/11 attacks.
At one UN site alone, approximately four children below the age of five are dying each day.
Featured
Absenteeism among doctors at government hospitals is rife, prompting innovative efforts to ensure they turn up for work.
Marginalised and jobless, desperate young men in Nairobi slums provide fertile ground for al-Shabab.
The Khmer Rouge tribunal is set to hear genocide charges for targeting ethnic Vietnamese and Cham Muslims.
'I'm dying anyway, one piece at a time' said Steve Fobister, who suffers from disabilities caused by mercury poisoning.
The world's newest professional sport comes from an unlikely source: video games.
join our mailing list