News from Lori's Parents
28 February 2000
This is day 1,552 of wrongful incarceration.In this update:
- State Department Human Rights Report blasts Perú again
- U.S. News & World Report
- Prayers and thoughts for Lori -- March 6 to 10
- New York Times editorial discusses death of democracy in Perú
- New e-mail address and redesigned web site
- Closing note
State Department Human Rights Report blasts Perú again
The US State Department's 1999 Country Report on Human Rights Practices in Perú is a 42-page scathing critique of a government whose record continues to a show disdain for democratic principles and human rights. The complete Report will appear on our www.freelori.org web site.
In particular, the Report states: "... in the case of American citizen Lori Berenson, who was tried by a military tribunal without due process rights that would have been afforded her in a civilian court, the Prime Minister [Alberto Bustamante who is also the Justice Minister] indicated in a December 14 television interview that the [Peruvian] Government had not foreclosed the possibility of a civilian trial if it were warranted by previously unconsidered evidence." But a civilian trial on charges related to terrorism is not a solution because the State Department's Report goes on to say, "Proceedings in these military courts - and those for terrorism in civilian courts - do not meet internationally accepted standards of openness, fairness, and due process."
President Clinton Must Use Act of Congress 22 USC Section 1732 International law prohibits lengthy incarceration without due process. Given that for more than four years the official position of the US government regarding Lori's case is that she was denied due process and given that the US State Department now has declared that Perú's civilian courts do not afford trials that meet international standards for persons charged with terrorism, it is clear that President Clinton is obligated, under Act of Congress 22 USC Section 1732, to secure Lori's release. Enough is enough! The US Congress must press President Clinton on this and we will be announcing a Congressional campaign in a future update.
U.S. News & World Report
In the March 6th issue of U.S. News & World Report, available today, Michael Satchell has a two-page story on Lori with four color photos, one of which was taken by Peruvian intelligence using hidden cameras of our first meeting with Lori after her transfer to Socabaya Prison in October 1998 when a special "contact" visit was permitted. It is conjectured that the photo was intended to be used by the Peruvian government for propaganda purposes. The article, without the photos, will be made available on the www.freelori.org web site or can be read on the magazine's web site www.usnews.com.
Prayers and thoughts for Lori -- March 6 to 10
Dr. Todd Meister, an anesthesiologist, is studying to be a rabbi in Baltimore. He has written that since two Jewish holidays of freedom - Purim and Passover - are rapidly approaching, this would be a good time to pray for Lori's freedom. He suggests reciting Psalm 20 and Psalm 142 on Lori's behalf. These are special prayers for helping prisoners. The entire text of Dr. Meister's note, along with Psalms 20 and 142, will appear on the www.freelori.org web site.
The graduate school of his rabbinical college has written the following certificate that is being translated into Spanish and sent to Lori:
"Torah study of the Kollel Graduate School of the Ner Israel Rabbinical College - Baltimore, Maryland - for the week of March 6 through March 10, 2000 has been dedicated with the hope and prayer that the Almighty deliver ARIELA BAS RHODA (Lori Berenson) from solitary imprisonment to freedom. The 180 scholars dedicate the merit of their Torah study on her behalf."
The Meister family asks everyone to make the week of March 6 through 10 a time of special reflection.
New York Times editorial discusses death of democracy in Perú
On Sunday, 27 February, editor Tina Rosenberg, in an Editorial Observer column titled "The Precarious Nature of Latin Democracies," compared current to past patterns of democratic practice in several countries. Particular focus was given to the erosion of democracy under President Alberto Fujimori. The article will appear on the www.freelori.org web site.
New e-mail address and redesigned web site
In addition to our trips to Perú and our meetings in Washington, we have been upgrading our computer system capability this past month to facilitate correspondence and access to the web site.
Please note that our new E-mail address is Berenson@FreeLori.org and this can be written either in all lower case or all capital letters. The redesigned web site at www.freelori.org will be installed soon.
Our update of 17 February was posted on the www.freelori.org web site but, "due to technical difficulties," we were unable to send it out directly to you. In particular, Lori wanted to express her thanks for all the prayers and notes you sent during her two-week hunger protest. Although Lori appeared a bit thinner when Rhoda visited her earlier in the month, she seemed to be okay. The update also mentioned "actions" at Richland Center High School in Wisconsin and at Bishop Eustace Prep School in southern New Jersey. We also announced that Stanley H. Kaplan, prominent education specialist, human rights activist, and humanitarian, has joined the Advisory Board of the Committee to Free Lori Berenson as its fifteenth member.
This week marks Lori's completion of 51 months of wrongful imprisonment - four and a quarter years! We are truly grateful for all your support and we will need your continued support in the weeks ahead, after we announce our Congressional campaign, so that our government is prodded to take the same, high level of interest in the case of one of its own citizens (Lori) as it has in the cases of two non-citizens (Elian Gonzalez from Cuba and Baruch Ivcher from Perú). We now know that both the US and Peruvian governments have at least been politically posturing, if not outright talking about Lori Berenson -- both countries do realize that Lori's case is an ever growing thorn-in-the-side in their bilateral relations. Lori's two-week hunger strike last month was done not for publicity, which neither she nor we sought; it was done on principle to impress upon both governments in a civilized society that she has been wronged and that it was more than ample time for justice to be served.