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Argentine club Banfield honours fans lost in Dirty War

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By Andrew Downie

(Reuters) – Argentine football club Banfield has honoured 11 of its fans who disappeared during the country’s “Dirty War” in an emotional ceremony it said was designed to honour “victims of state terrorism.”

Banfield’s president Lucia Barbuto read out the names of those honoured and gave their families official club membership cards like the ones they held when they disappeared between 1976 and 1983, the period when a brutal military dictatorship cracked down on left-wing opponents after a coup.

“In the name of the club I ask for forgiveness that this recognition took so long,” Barbuto told the crowd gathered under the first division club’s ageing concrete stand.

Family members were joined by fans and human rights activists, including some of the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the group whose quiet demonstrations in front of Argentina’s presidential palace brought the military abuses to public attention.

Argentina’s official truth commission said 8,960 people went missing during the military dictatorship but human rights groups estimate that about 30,000 were killed. Most were students, union leaders or dissidents who were murdered for their political beliefs.

“They will never make them disappear from our hearts or from the club they loved,” Analia Gavio, niece of German Gavio, one of those honoured, told Thursday’s gathering.

Players from Banfield’s men’s and women’s teams read out the list of names in a video that showed the 11 in a playing formation against the background of a football pitch.

(Editing by Clare Fallon)

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