Colonia Dignidad (Chile)

Country: Chile
Details of Formation: Colonia Dignidad was founded by German émigré Paul Schäfer who came to Chile in 1961 to escape accusations for sex abuse against children in Germany. He was accompanied by members of his German community. The group became pro-government after the military coup in 1973 which brought Pinochet to power.
Details of Termination: Colonia Dignidad was coded as PGM when it functioned as detention centre for the Pinochet regime. It therefore ceased to be a PGM upon transition to democracy.
Purpose: Colonia Dignidad functioned as detention centre for political opposition, where those detained were also tortured.
Organisation: Colonia Dignidad was led by Paul Schäfer, a German immigrant and former Nazi army nurse. The Colonia had links to DINA (the Chilean secret police under Pinochet), as well as the army. Schäfer himself had close links with Chile’s ruling elite and the DINA leader. Colonia Dignidad was able to operate with impunity as a “state within a state”. In return for their work for DINA, Colonia Dignidad received official protection.
Weapons and Training: A news source reports that members wore uniforms of the Chilean army and had heavy weaponry.
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Reason for Membership: Many residents of Colonia Dignidad had been residents in a community in Germany, led by the charismatic preacher Paul Schäfer. Schäfer was accused of pedophilia and organized the emigration of community members to Chile.
Treatment of Civilians: Colonia Dignidad killed and tortured political opposition they detained on behalf of the Pinochet regime. DINA agents were present on place and conducted torture, but residents also participated in committing the atrocities. They conducted biological experiments on political prisoners in the lab for bacteriological warfare for the army. The Colonia is also responsible for the fate of disappeared civilians during Pinochet. Children residing in the Colonia Dignidad were subjected to sexual abuse and sometimes torture. Other residents were regularly beaten and tortured.
Other Information: Colonia Dignidad is now known as Villa Baviera.
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