News from Lori's Parents
This is day 1,561 of wrongful incarceration.
"To be silent in the face of injustice is to be an accomplice to evil. I will not be silent." Lori Berenson, January 2000In this update:
- Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) human rights document expresses concern for abuses against Lori
- Harrassment: Mail is withheld and books banned
- The Progressive publishes two articles about Lori
- Convicted by an 'image' - media expert exposes Peruvian propaganda on Lori
The web site is being revamped and will include a new home page with a section on EVENTS. If you are planning any activity on behalf of Lori please notify Gail Taylor, National Organizer of the Committee to Free Lori Berenson (firstname.lastname@example.org) so that it may be included on the web site.
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) human rights document expresses concern for abuses against Lori
In October 1999 the 211th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) approved the document 1998-99 Human Rights Update developed by the Advisory Committee on Social Witness Policy of the General Assembly Council in order to encourage engagement with and focus on human rights. The recently published document, which details human rights issues throughout the world, is being distributed widely.
On behalf of Lori, we want to thank the Committee and the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) for expressing its concern. The portion of the document that deals with Perú and Lori will be available on our web site.
Harrassment: Mail is withheld and books banned
Lori has mentioned that mail has been withheld, detained, and lost and that books are being banned. She urges that all mail, books, and other written materials be in Spanish because letters, cards, and/or books in English are first sent back to Lima for review. Some of Lori's mail has arrived after 6 to 8 months. In addition, letters are being "stopped" on the way out and there are constant complaints that she receives and sends out too much mail. She apologizes that it is becoming more difficult for her to respond to those of you who write.
At this past weekend's visit, officials at Socabaya Prison refused to allow Lori to receive a recent issue of the Catholic Worker, a New York-based publication. In addition, officials at Socabaya Prison refused to allow Lori to read a "cc" copy of a letter sent to President Fujimori by a citizen of Spain, urging her release.
However, what Lori described as most outrageously offensive, officials at Socabaya Prison refused to allow Lori to receive the latest book (in Spanish) by Nobel Peace Prize recipient Rogoberta Menchu. This is the second book by an indigenous person that has not been permitted entry in the 17 months Lori has been incarcerated there. Lori attributes this wrongful act in part due to ignorance and in part due to overt racism that permeates Peruvian society.
The Progressive publishes two articles about Lori
The March 1st issue of The Progressive had two excellent articles regarding Lori, "Gringa in an Andean Prison" by Robin Flinchum and "An Interview with Ramsey Clark" by Dennis Bernstein. These articles will appear on our www.freelori.org web site.
Convicted by an 'image' - media expert exposes Peruvian propaganda on Lori
Danny Schechter, award-winning media specialist and recipient of Amnesty International USA's 1997 Media Spotlight Award for his PBS human rights program "Rights and Wrongs," has an article titled "Propaganda" in the December 1999 issue of the Index of Censorship (published in the United Kingdom).
Schechter states that "photojournalism has always had an edge in shaping how we understand world events: impactful images become the private movie we screen in our minds to help us extract meaning from what we see. Clearly, images can be, and often are, not what they seem to be. ... Soundbites substitute for substance and 'bang bang' footage is all we're given of complicated conflicts that are presented with little context or background."
Schechter then goes on to say: "Lori Berenson, a young American woman, was jailed by a military tribunal in Perú, convicted, falsely in my view ... her fabricated negative image was broadcast worldwide, and carried in all major newspapers, effectively condemning her. In the end, she was convicted by a constructed image in a world where perception often trumps reality."