"Forced disappearance is a crime that only the State commits," the family statement continued.
The relatives of the young Argentine activist Santiago Maldonado have said in a statement that he was forcibly disappeared by agents of the state and demand his immediate return.
"The forced disappearance is a crime that began with the deprivation of liberty ... followed by the lack of information of his whereabouts and the refusal by authorities to recognize his deprivation of freedom," said a statement published by the family on the website of the Argentine League for Human Rights.
"Forced disappearance is a crime that only the State commits," it continued.
Human rights organizations accuse the government of Mauricio Macri of allowing the police to forcibly remove Maldonado on Aug. 1, during a military police raid on an Indigenous Mapuche community in Cushamen. Witnesses said they saw officers shove the 28-year-old into a van and drive away, but the government denies involvement.
His relatives say they don't believe Santiago is dead, as some officials have told them, and that all of society has the right to know the truth about what happened 23 days ago.
"To this date, the only hypothesis based on objective elements is that of forced disappearance," the statement said. "Because it is a state crime, the burden of proof is reversed and the state must corroborate that such a hypothesis is false so that it may then proceed with other hypotheses."
Maldonado was meeting with fellow supporters of the Cushamen Resistance, the Indigenous community of Pu Lof in the Chubut department, as the military police sought to raid ancestral lands given to the multinational company Benetton.
The family demands information on the circumstances of his disappearance and the identification of those responsible, in order to establish a criminal punishment and protection for the relatives of Santiago who are part of the investigation as witnesses.