Page 2, 21st November 1980

21st November 1980
Page 2
Page 2, 21st November 1980 — Amnesty spotlight swings on Chilean torture

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Amnesty spotlight swings on Chilean torture

By a Special Correspondent

A NEW campaign against torture in Chile is to be launched in ten days time by Amnesty International.

It will attempt to focus public attention again on the repressive policies of the government headed by President Pinochct. A special leaflet has been prepared for use by Church groups.

Throughout the last year Amnesty has been receiving reports of a resurgence in torture. From these reports a consistent picture emerges: of groups of people seized by agents of the CNI (the successor to DINA, the Chilean secret police. and virtually identical in its mode of operation).

The victims are taken blindfolded on the floor of vans or cars to torture centres in barracks or secret locations. There interrogation is accompanied by torture for days at a time; the parrilla, a metal grid to which the victim is tied while electric shocks are administered, recurs again and again in the reports. Severe beatings, threats and humiliation are also reported. Some victims have told of being hung upside down by their feet for hours; others of being stripped naked and subjected to high pressure jets of icy water in winter weather.

Several victims have told of doctors standing by to suspend the punishment just short of death, and to say whether it can be resumed, The Vicariate of Solidarity, the human rights organisation of the Chilean Church, has been active in supporting those who have been tortured and their families.

Recently it intervened in the case of Miss Claire Wilson. the British girl arrested and tortured by the security police in July.

Miss Wilson is now said to be facing re-arrest and last month the Vicariate formally applied to the Chilean Appeal Court for a writ of preventive habeas corpus for her.

her British lawyer has also-formally appealed to the Foreign Secretary, Lord Carrington, "to secure the safety of Miss Claire Wilson."

Her case is one of several in which friends or relatives of political prisoners have been arrested and accused of 'subversion". Her fiance, Mr Jose Benado, was recently reported to be in a Santiago prison hospital recovering from his last interrogation.

There was a storm of protest earlier this year when the Foreign Office publicly queried Dr Sheila Cassidy's account of her torture in Chile. The government then restored the ambassador who had been withdrawn in 1975 in protest against the treatment of Dr Cassidy.

In August the Government's decision to resume arms sales to Chile was sharply criticised by Cardinal Hume in a letter to Mr Nicholas Ridley the Minister of State at the Foreign office.

The letter and a comment by Dr Cassidy about the resumption of arms sales are included in the leaflet prepared by Amnesty for church groups.

The campaign is to be officially launched on December 1. Further information from Amnesty International.

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