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Peruvian Political Prisoners Mistreated

In past issues of PLN we have reported on events in Peru affecting the political prisoners of the Communist Party of Peru (PCP). In May of 1992 the Peruvian government stormed the Canto Grande maximum security prison killing and wounding dozens of PCP prisoners; many were killed after surrendering to government forces (See Sep. 1992, PLN). After the prison massacre the government transferred the POWs to prisons and military bases across the country. Since the massacre (which was only the latest of several) the POWs living conditions have deteriorated dramatically.

Recent reports from Peru indicate that on November 26, 1992, several truckloads of troops entered the Santa Monica prison in Lima and attacked the prisoners. The number of dead or wounded is unknown because the government refuses to allow lawyers, human rights groups, the red cross or family members to enter the prison.

On November 22, 1992, two guards and two prisoners were reported killed in unknown circumstances at the prison in Puno. The prisoners at Puno are being subjected to especially barbaric treatment. Members of the delegation sent to Peru by the International Emergency Committee to Defend the Life of Chairman Gonzalo denounced how the military dictatorship has initiated a new extermination of prisoners of war:
"T he prisoners accused of belonging to or supporting the PCP have been transferred to the recently opened prison on an Air Force base in Puno, a city near Bolivia, where the temperature reaches 10 degrees below zero Celsius. The description of living conditions in this prison, provided by lawyers and prisoners family members, can only be called barbaric and violating all fundamental human rights: chained 23 hours a day, limited access to sunlight for only an hour a day, being subjected to torture and beatings, they are forced to remain naked for long periods of time. Their food consists of a piece of bread and a glass of water in the morning and a watery rice soup in the evenings. Tuberculosis and other illnesses are very common and the prisoners are forced to sleep on bare concrete floors. It is difficult for them to see their lawyers and the infrequent visits from their immediate family members, who must travel for days to reach the prison, can only last 10 minutes."


On their part the prisoners' relatives denounce the fact that the prisoners are denied the most fundamental human rights. They are not provided with either medical attention nor medicines. They are denied the right to nutrition, "giving them one meager meal a day, mixed with glass and kerosene, they have prevented their families or friends from giving them any type of nutritional assistance or any other type of assistance." This is in the context that in all Latin American countries it is customary for prisoners' families to provide food, clothing and other items to their imprisoned relatives.

Since the capture of PCP chairman Guzman in September of 1992 the war has only intensified. The PCP has continued and increased its attacks on the government. For its part the government is seeking to impose the death penalty, retroactively, on members of the PCP because of their membership, real or alleged, in a "terrorist" organization. After the Peruvian Bar Association denounced the torture of PCP Central Committee member Marta Huatay, who is a lawyer and was captured with Guzman, the government banned the Bar Association for being "apologists for terrorism!"

Alfredo Crespo, the lawyer who represented Guzman at his secret military kangaroo trial has been arrested as have several other lawyers who represent PCP prisoners. Dr. Crespo was charged with "treason" because he is Mr. Guzman's attorney. Within four days of his arrest Dr. Crespo had been "convicted" by a secret military tribunal of hooded judges and sentenced to life in prison. Other lawyers who represent PCP prisoners have been murdered by right wing death squads or wounded in assassination attempts. Several other lawyers with political prisoners as clients have also been arrested. The government has also passed a law which prohibits lawyers from representing more than one client accused of political offenses. This has the effect of denying counsel to most defendants accused of being revolutionaries. To put this into context, there aren't that many lawyers to begin with in most non-industrialized countries, and when the lawyers run the risk of being killed or arrested for representing clients at odds with the government the pool of available counsel shrinks even further. In any case, with secret military tribunals trying all political cases there is little lawyers can do for the accused beyond act as impotent witnesses to the judicial charade. But Peru isn't the only place this occurs in.

Chairman Guzman has been held in solitary confinement since his capture and has been denied all contact with his attorneys, doctors and human rights monitors. In fact,. no one aside from his captors has seen Mr. Guzman since his capture. Recent reports state he has lost some 50 pounds since he was captured. Guzman had been held captive on an island near Lima, he has since been transferred to an underground prison on a military base on the mainland. There are serious concerns that his life is in grave danger from the Peruvian government. We are unable to report on these events as frequently or in as great detail as we would like to due to space constraints in PLN, timeliness of the material and the sheer volume of information. Even if we restrict our coverage to events affecting only the prisoners in Peru there is a lot to cover because the government seems to commit a new outrage every day. I suggest that readers interested in events in Peru subscribe to: Bulletin of the International Emergency Committee to Defend the Life of Abimael Guzman, 27 Old Gloucester Street, London, WC1N 3XX, England. MIM Notes P.O. Box 3576, Ann Arbor, MI. 48106; El Diario Internacional, P.O. Box 1246, Berkeley, CA. 94701. All of these give regular detailed coverage of events in Peru.

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