'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Peruvian Judge Orders Release of Lori Berenson 

To be released within 24 hours?

Her statement from 2005, on the 10th anniversary of her imprisonment:

My name is Lori Berenson. I am a New York born and raised political prisoner in Perú. I have spent many years in Central and South America, trying to contribute to the efforts of those who seek social justice for all. I continue this work from prison.

On November 30, 1995, I was pulled off of a public bus in Lima. Like thousands of Peruvians, I was detained by the anti-terrorist police, tried for treason by a hooded military tribunal under draconian anti-terrorism laws and condemned to life in prison.

This all occurred in the context of an internal conflict in Perú that began in the early 1980s with the armed insurgence of the Shining Path, and later the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement.

When I was arrested, Peruvian President Fujimori made me a symbol for his anti-terrorist campaign. His ability to use the media for his own publicity purposes led to my case being very high profile.

Because of the tireless efforts of my family, friends and many others, the Fujimori regime was forced to retry me in a civilian court. In 2001, I was sentenced to 20 years for collaboration. In 2004, in light of the international anti-terrorism campaign in our post-9/11 world and under extreme pressure from Perú’s political class, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ratified my sentence.

The details of what happened to me are irrelevant in the broader picture of the thousands of Peruvians who have been killed, disappeared, tortured and detained during this internal conflict. Since history has always been re-written by those who have the upper-hand, the issue of subversion became the scapegoat for all of Perú’s problems.

In all parts of the world, symbolic culprits are used to obscure the root causes of social discontent, to distract attention and distort realities when any group of people question the existing order. The world order, especially in this era of globalized capitalism, is designed to benefit a powerful few at the expense of the majority of our world’s peoples. This system is unjust, immoral, terrifying and just plain insane. We must change it.

People all over the world are imprisoned today and suffering tremendous injustices for challenging this order. I express my solidarity with all of those prisoners, and in particular my admiration for those whose courage we can hear in the voice of Mumia Abu-Jamal, in the writings about Leonard Peltier, in the struggle for the liberation of Puerto Rico, and many others.

For prisoners, the struggle for basic dignity is a daily plight. Prisons are just a smaller version of the general system that operates in this world, and that is what is wrong. The desire to change it is why many of us are here in the first place. It is a worthy cause to be behind bars for.

Let us hope that she is quickly released as ordered.

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