ATS Press Release To The Mainstream Media

Arm The Spirit (ats@locust.cic.net)
Fri, 10 Jan 1997 08:33:48 -0500 (EST)


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- The alternative newsservice - http://www.tao.ca/wind/ainfos.html

Arm The Spirit Press Release - January 10, 1997

Comments Regarding Media Articles On The "MRTA Solidarity Page" On The World Wide Web

On January 3, 1997, the Reuters News Agency distributed an article entitled "Peruvian Rebels Wage Propaganda War On Internet", which dealt with our organization's MRTA Solidarity Page on the World Wide Web. This article was reprinted in many newspapers and appeared on the WWW pages of media outlets such as CNN and MSNBC. A few days later more articles appeared in various newspapers such as the Wall Street Journal, Newsday, etc. There are a few misconceptions and errors in the Reuters article, and the others that followed, which we would like to clarify.

First of all, we are NOT the MRTA, and we do not in any way speak on their behalf. We are a group of North American anti-imperialists (not "anarchists" as we were incorrectly indentified as being in the January 3rd Reuters article) who have created a Web Site in solidarity with the MRTA and their current struggle. The MRTA's own official web page is in Europe (http://www.cybercity.dk/users/ccc17427/) and their European Representatives can be reached directly via e-mail (voz_rebelde@cl-hh.comlink.de).

We first learned of the MRTA raid on the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima from the mainstream media and as the situation developed we realized the importance and magnitude of their action. Considering the present state of world politics today, and the usual tendency of the capitalist media to distort liberation struggles and dismiss them as "terrorist", we felt it would be important, as the standoff dragged on, to provide information from the MRTA's point of view.

The day after the occupation of the Japanese ambassador's residence, we began a search of the Internet for authentic material from or about the MRTA. We were only able to locate the MRTA's Spanish-language page "Voz Rebelde Internacional". (Reuters incorrectly attributes that title to our page, which is simply called "MRTA Solidarity Page".) We could not find any sites providing information on the MRTA in English, so we undertook the task - as a gesture of internationalist solidarity - to create one ourselves. This page now receives thousands of hits every day, and it has, as was our intent, become a useful resource for activists, news agencies, and concerned individuals around the globe.

Some of the articles written by Reuters, Newsday, and others, seem to imply that we have a direct communications link to the compound. This is utterly ridiculous. All of the information displayed on our page was gathered from the public domain and sources are cited. We are an information collective. Our political work entails collecting, translating, and disseminating information. Our MRTA Solidarity Page is nothing more than this. Much of the information on the page is even from mainstream sources. We have done this in order to give people some idea of how the standoff is being reported in the United States, Europe, and Japan. Implying that we have direct contact with MRTA members in the ambassador's residence based on the content of our WWW page is sloppy journalism. Reporters and editors in the mainstream media should take more care in their research and report the facts, not hype and conjecture.

What are some these facts? One is that millions of Peruvians live in desperate poverty. Perhaps the diplomats and government officials inside the residence, who have had their comfortable lives interrupted, can get a glimpse of the daily reality of a majority of the Peruvian people. And though these prisoners are being detained against their will, their conditions are worlds apart from the living tombs in which hundreds of political prisoners - both guerrilla members as well as thousands of falsely imprisoned Peruvians - are wasting away in.

Peru's prison conditions are among the worst in the world. After being sentenced by masked, anonymous judges in "trials" lasting only a few minutes, prisoners are kept in total isolation for months at a time. They are kept in their tiny cells for more than 23 hours every day. One 30 minute visit from a family member each month is all the contact with the outside world which they are granted. Many prisoners are sick and scores have died from tuberculosis, digestive disorders, and other maladies which are a direct result of the inhumane conditions in which they are kept. The Peruvian government and military has been cited by numerous human rights organizations as being some of the worst violators of human rights in this hemisphere. The world should take note of the fact that despite all of this, the MRTA militants have not taken any steps of retribution against the prisoners they are now holding inside the residence - even though a number of the Peruvian government officials are war criminals and torturers guilty of a multitude of human rights violations.

As activists in North America, groups like ours have access to technology and means of communications which many organizations and movements in the "Third World" cannot access. One of these is the Internet. We see it is as our responsibility to make use of the resources at our disposal to help create public awareness of issues such as the ones now on the table in Peru. This has allowed us to disseminate the perspective of the MRTA through statements, interviews, etc. across the globe. By collecting and translating information on the MRTA and their struggle, we feel we have provided a necessary balance to the overabundance of disinformation provided by the other side, namely the Fujimori regime and its imperialist backers (Japan, the U.S., the E.U., etc.).

Of course, our political stance is not a neutral one. We support the MRTA's call for the release of all MRTA political prisoners in Peru and fundamental changes in Peru's economic system.

In closing, we would urge all those interested in the Lima standoff to contact the MRTA's official representatives directly, and to investigate the root causes of the conflict, namely the brutal repression, widespread poverty and horrible prison conditions which exist in Peru. We will continue to do our part in this struggle by providing uncensored information in English about the MRTA, their beliefs, and their demands.

Free All Political Prisoners! Arm The Spirit January 10, 1997

"Venceremos!"

Journalists with further questions should consult our web site for more information: http://burn.ucsd.edu/~ats

ENDS

Below is the original Reuters article for your reference: ----

Peruvian Rebels Wage Propaganda War On Internet

January 3, 1997

WASHINGTON (Reuter) -- Marxist guerrillas holding 74 hostages in the Japanese ambassador's residence in Peru are waging a propaganda war on the World Wide Web.

Like many other radical or revolutionary groups in the developing world, the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement, or MRTA, has found allies in cyberspace.

On a Web page created the day after MRTA guerrillas stormed a diplomatic reception December 17, supporters of the rebels post communiques issued from inside the besieged mansion, giving updates on the drama and even photographs.

The electronic publication "Voz Rebelde" (Rebel Voice) includes interviews with the group's leaders, messages of solidarity from leftist groups around the world and links to other Web sites on the MRTA in Japanese and Italian.

Fujimori Is Target Of Broadsides

President Alberto Fujimori, who long boasted of having crushed Peru's left-wing guerrillas, is the target of most of the MRTA's propaganda broadsides.

"Fujimori's government proclaimed a great victory over the armed movement," said Isaac Velazco, the MRTA's spokesman in Europe. Velazco was interviewed by the German publication Junge Welt, and it was then posted on the Internet.

"The government deceived itself and went as far as believing that the guerrillas, particularly the MRTA, had been defeated," Velazco said. "We were never so weak as the government supposed."

Adorned with the MRTA shield bearing the head of Tupac Amaru, the Peruvian Indian who led an 18th-century uprising against Spanish conquerors, "Rebel Voice" is one of many guerrilla spaces on the Internet.

Zapatista rebels, who launched an uprising in southern Mexico three years ago, were among the first to stake out revolutionary cyberspace, and became enthusiastic guerrilla hackers.

Shining Path Also On Internet

The Shining Path, a Maoist guerrilla group in Peru that has killed thousands of people during a decade of armed violence, has had its own Web page for six months, maintained by a support group in Berkeley, California.

The MRTA page site was built by "Arm the Spirit," an anarchist group based in Toronto that calls itself an "anti-imperialist information collective."

The Internet even draws together groups separated by bitter ideological differences. The Shining Path's page can be used to access the Web page of its MRTA rival.

----

----------------------------------------------------------------- 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:

Arm The Spirit P.O. Box 6326, Stn. A Toronto, Ontario M5W 1P7 Canada

E-mail: ats@etext.org WWW: http://burn.ucsd.edu/~ats MRTA Solidarity Page: http://burn.ucsd.edu/~ats/mrta.htm FTP: ftp.etext.org --> /pub/Politics/Arm.The.Spirit ATS-L Archives: http://burn.ucsd.edu/~archive/ats-l -----------------------------------------------------------------

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