The Lives Of Political Prisoners In Peru Are In Danger!

Arm The Spirit (
Wed, 8 Jan 1997 22:44:08 -0500 (EST)

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- The alternative newsservice -

The Lives Of Political Prisoners In Peru Are In Danger!

Translated by Arm The Spirit

Background Information On The Occupation Of The Japanese Ambassador's Residence In Lima, Peru

Live cameras are aimed at the Japanese ambassador's residence and carry the images all across the world. The occupation action of a commando from the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) has cast a spotlight on the social and political conditions which exist in Peru under the elected dictator Alberto Fujimori. While a majority of Peruvians live in poverty and distress, the beneficiaries of neo-liberal policies and martial law celebrate their wealth at events such as the disgusting banquet in honor of the Japanese Emperor.

The MRTA are demanding, in addition to changes in economic policy in order to benefit the majority of the population, the liberation of more than 400 political prisoners. The real danger exists that the Fujimori government, like other regimes in the past, will take revenge against the prisoners. In past years, there have been several massacres, for example in 1986 in the prisons at Lurigancho, El Fronton, and the women's prison at Callao, when over 250 prisoners were murdered. But the presence of international media is no deterrent to the Peruvian government: The 1986 massacre was carried out at the same time as the Socialist International was holding its annual congress in Lima.

Media reports about the seizure of the Japanese ambassador's residence largely overlook the background of this situation. For this reason, we would like to focus attention on the situation of the prisoners and human rights in general. On December 16, 1996, the MRTA prisoners in Miguel Castro Castro prison launched a massive, unlimited hunger strike.

The initiative Libertad was founded to campaign for an international Day of Struggle to call for "Freedom For All Political Prisoners World-Wide!" Libertad is in solidarity with the struggle of the Peruvian hunger strikers and we support their demands:

1) An end to isolation detention and the discriminatory treatment handed down against C. Victor Polay and other MRTA leaders, and for these people to be shown in public so that their condition may be seen. We demand that they be transferred to civilian prisons.

2) The immediate repeal of Anti-Terror Law Nr. 25475, which mandates "faceless" civilian and military judges and super speedy trials with no right to a defense.

3) The immediate repeal of the special detention conditions, which are in violation of recognized national and international fundamental human rights. We especially call for international humanitarian norms to be adhered to.

4) For humane treatment of prisoners, and improved prison conditions (access to defense counsel, better food, health, and jobs).

The list of human rights violations in Peru is a long one. Here are just a few examples:

- In the maximum security prison inside the Callao navy base, cells are 8 meters underground. The prisoners there are detained in cells with no natural light.

- All prisoners are held in total isolation for their first year, thereafter they are allowed only 30 minutes in the yard each day. Only immediate family members may visit them. Prisoners are not allowed books, newspapers, or radios.

- Women prisoners are guarded by men.

- Some maximum security prisons, like the one in Yanamayo, are built in regions whose climates are so harsh that prisoners suffer serious health problems as a result.

- Guards are allowed to mete out punishments as they see fit.

- In extremely short trials, defendants are often sentenced by the military to life in prison. The judges are masked and thereby remain anonymous to the defendants.

Since 1990, the construction of high security prisons has increased dramatically in Peru. Most of these are designed to confine prisoners in isolation conditions. The experiences of Germany in this field have led to several visits by high-ranking Peruvian officials to consult with their German counterparts on this issue.

Isolation detention is part of the "psycho-social campaign" designed to break the prisoners and force them to abandon their struggle. The maximum security prisons, which President Fujimori once described as "prison tombs", are, in short: "The place where they will rot and only come out when they are dead."

The anti-terror laws now in force in Peru were enacted in May 1992. This state of emergency allows for the mass arrest of opposition activists. Mechanisms of protection, codified in international accords against torture and inhumane mistreatment, have been eroded by these laws. All prisoners are tortured and mistreated, and they are subjected to unfair trials. Since 1983, thousands of people have "disappeared" due to state-sponsored murders or torture. Almost none of these acts of state-sponsored human rights violations have ever been investigated.

On the contrary: On June 16, 1995, President Fujimori issued a general amnesty which quashed all investigations or indictments of human rights violations which occurred after May 1980. The few persons who had been convicted of such crimes before this amnesty had their sentences annulled, and if any happened to be in prison, they were released. This get-out-of-jail-free policy, therefore, freed all state murderers and torturers. This criminalization of the victims is also in line with Fujimori's economic policies, which have been enacted on the backs of Peru's poorest classes.

The demands of the embassy occupiers and the prison hunger strikers must be fulfilled!

The prisoners must be freed!

Libertad! c/o "3.Welt" Haus Westerbachstrasse 47-H3 60327 Frankfurt Germany

Tel: +49-69-97843444 Fax: +49-69-97843445 E-mail:

----------------------------------------------------------------- Arm The Spirit is an autonomist/anti-imperialist information collective based in Toronto, Canada. Our focus includes a wide variety of material, including political prisoners, national liberation struggles, armed communist resistance, anti-fascism, the fight against patriarchy, and more. We regularly publish our writings, research, and translation materials in our magazine and bulletins called Arm The Spirit. For more information, contact:

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