Chilean march in memory of dictatorship dead turns violent (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

Police clashed with hooded protesters in Santiago as thousands marched the streets in memory of the victims of the abuses of General Augusto Pinochet’s military government. Activists were dispersed by police with teargas and water cannons.

More than 5,000 people took to the streets of the Chilean capital to remember those who fell victim to the abuses of Pinochet’s dictatorship from 1973- 1990.

Marchers gathered in Santiago’s grand cemetery, brandishing pictures of family members who were killed or disappeared during Pinochet’s 17-year rule.

The peaceful march descended into violence when about 50 hooded youths blocked roads and clashed with police officers. They lit fires in the streets using banners of the candidates of the next municipal elections as fuel and hurled Molotov cocktails and stones at officers. Police dispersed the rioters with paintball rounds, tear gas and water cannons, arresting a total of eight people.

Spokesperson for the Association of Families of Those Who Were Detained and Disappeared (AFDD) decried Chile’s government. Citing the recent student protests and the discrimination of Mapuche Indians she said that President “Sebastian Pinera’s government is guilty of the same right-wing repression as the dictatorship.”

The spokesperson called on the government “not to repress and dismiss human rights and put an end to injustice.”

The march came as Chile prepares to commemorate the coup d’etat of 1973 on September 11, when socialist President Salvador Allende was deposed by the military.

Human rights organizations say that over 30,000 people were imprisoned and tortured during General Pinochet’s regime. Additionally, over 3,000 people were either murdered or disappeared under the former dictator.

Pinochet was arrested in 1998 in connection with a number of human rights abuse allegations, but was released from house arrest in 2000 due to his deteriorating health. The ex-dictator died in 2006 with 300 criminal charges still pending against him.

Demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest marking the 1973 military coup, in Santiago September 9, 2012. (Reuters/Cristobal Saavedra)
Demonstrators clash with riot police during a protest marking the 1973 military coup, in Santiago September 9, 2012. (Reuters/Cristobal Saavedra)
demonstrator runs away from riot police during a protest marking the 1973 military coup, in Santiago September 9, 2012. (Reuters/Eliseo Fernandez)
demonstrator runs away from riot police during a protest marking the 1973 military coup, in Santiago September 9, 2012. (Reuters/Eliseo Fernandez)
AFP Photo/Martin Bernetti
AFP Photo/Martin Bernetti
Riot police officers shoot tear gas against demonstrators during a protest marking the 1973 military coup, in Santiago September 9, 2012. (Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)
Riot police officers shoot tear gas against demonstrators during a protest marking the 1973 military coup, in Santiago September 9, 2012. (Reuters/Ivan Alvarado)
A riot police vehicle releases a jet of water on a barricade during a protest marking the 1973 military coup in Santiago, September 9, 2012. (Reuters/Eliseo Fernandez)
A riot police vehicle releases a jet of water on a barricade during a protest marking the 1973 military coup in Santiago, September 9, 2012. (Reuters/Eliseo Fernandez)
A demonstrator stands next to a barricade during a protest marking the 1973 military coup, in Santiago September 9, 2012. (Reuters/Eliseo Fernandez)
A demonstrator stands next to a barricade during a protest marking the 1973 military coup, in Santiago September 9, 2012. (Reuters/Eliseo Fernandez)