[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
As Western stars re-release 1980s charity hit, many Africans say it's a demeaning relic that can do more harm than good.
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Featured
Pro-Russia leaders' election in Ukraine's east shows bloody conflict is far from a peaceful resolution.
Critics challenge Canberra's move to refuse visas for West Africans in Ebola-besieged countries.
A key issue for Hispanics is the estimated 11.3 million immigrants in the US without papers who face deportation.
In 1970, only two mosques existed in the country, but now more than 200 offer sanctuary to Japan's Muslims.
Hundreds of the country's reporters eke out a living by finding news - then burying it for a price.