Alice Domon (1937 - 1977)

French missionary in Argentina who was tortured and killed for her compassion

Alice Domon

Alice Domon

Alice Domon, missionary of the Société des Missions Etrangères in Paris, which she joined at a very early age, was born in 1937 in Charquemont, in the department of Doubs, in France. In 1967 she was sent to Argentina, where she taught religion to the disabled. She was assigned to the group directed by Fr Ismaele Calcagno, a first cousin of Jorge Rafael Videla, the future dictator of Argentina. Alice Domon and her fellow nun Léonie Duquet were introduced to Videla because he needed assistance for his son Alejandro, a disabled child whom they taught and looked after in the Casa de la Caridad in Morón. In Buenos Aires the two sisters devoted their time to social work amongst the inhabitants of the city’s poorest townships. In 1971 Alice moved to the town of Corrientes and cooperated with the “Ligas Agrarias”, independent associations of small and medium-sized farmers.
In a coup on 24 March 1976, a military dictatorship seized power in Argentina. Alice Domon decided to work for human rights organizations and joined the Plaza de Mayo mothers’ movement. At the beginning of December 1977 she and her fellow nun Léonie helped prepare a petition in which they demanded that the government reveal the fate of those opponents that had disappeared without trace. Just a few days later, on 10 December, Alice was to vanish herself.
According to fellow prisoners, it later emerged that president Videla had ordered naval sub lieutenant Alfredo Astiz to infiltrate the group supporting the mothers of Plaza de Mayo, pretending to be the brother of a desaparecido, and that he had kidnapped sister Alice in the church of Santa Cruz, along with a further eleven people linked to the Plaza de Mayo movement, including sister Léonie.
Alice was taken straight to the secret detention centre of the Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada (internationally known as ESMA), where she was tortured for approximately 10 days in the Capucha, a dark, cramped and windowless area of the prison so called because the detainees were forced to wear hoods over their heads. Lastly Alice was loaded into an aeroplane and dropped into the ocean, where her body disappeared. So much is certified in a secret document – which has now been made public – sent on 30 March 1978 from the American embassy in Buenos Aires to the Secretary of State in Washington.

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