News from Lori's Parents

25 June 1999

In this update:

Congressional briefing about Lori: June 30th

The Congressional Human Rights Caucus, co-chaired by Representatives Tom Lantos (D-CA) and John Edward Porter (R-IL), is sponsoring a Briefing in the Rayburn House Office Building (Room 2200) of the U.S. Congress on Wednesday, June 30th from 4 to 5:30 p.m. The Briefing is entitled "Human Rights in Peru: The Lori Berenson Case" and is open to the public. The event will be hosted by Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY). In addition to several members of Congress who have actively supported Lori, invitations to speak have been sent to Ramsey Clark, former Attorney General of the United States; Carlos Salinas, Amnesty International; Blase Bonpane, Director, Office of Americas (Los Angeles); Rabbi Marcelo Bronstein, Temple B'Nai Jeshurun (New York City); Reverend Bill Nottingham, Christian Theological Seminary (Indianapolis); Sister Eileen Storey, Sisters of Charity (New York City); and Reverend Lucius Walker, Pastors for Peace (New York City). Professor Noam Chomsky of MIT has prepared a statement to be distributed. Officials from the U.S. State Department and the Peruvian Embassy have also been invited.

CBS Radio plans to broadcast segments of an interview with the Berensons throughout the day on June 30th, leading up to the Congressional Briefing.

Peruvian Government ignores O.A.S. court decision

Two weeks ago, President Fujimori immediately rejected the decision of the Inter-American Human Rights Court of the Organization of American States concerning due process. This unanimous decision stated that four Chileans sentenced to life for treason by Peru's illegal secret military tribunals must be retried in civilian courts. Key members of the Peruvian government immediately parroted President Fujimori's tough stand and Peru has threatened to withdraw from the Human Rights Court -- the most important international legal body in the Western Hemisphere. President Fujimori was quoted as saying he will never permit the Chileans or Lori Berenson to have a civilian trial.

His statement preempts Lori's efforts for vindication because her case is due for full hearing at the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in its September-October session. Opposition leaders in Peru believe that the real motive for rejecting this decision and threatening to leave the Court has nothing to do with the Chileans or Lori, but is an effort to avoid other Court decisions expected to go against Peru in the near future. In particular, it is expected that the Court will demand the reinstatement of three Constitutional judges who had ruled that President Fujimori is ineligible to run again for President.

Father's Day visit to Lori

We visited Lori last weekend, Rhoda saw her for one hour on Saturday and Mark one hour on Sunday. In addition, Mark was permitted a 30-second hug for Father's Day.

Winter is setting in and unfortunately Lori's hands and face are once more exhibiting the problems associated with the effect of the cold dry air. Her hands are once again purple, swollen, and cut and her face is bright red. She is still essentially isolated in Socabaya Prison. Although she spends her yard time with three other women, they have chosen to ignore or harass her in the hope of gaining favors from the prison officials. Lori has expressed that as horrible as the physical conditions were at Yanamayo, her eight months of isolation at Socabaya are, for her, even worse. Each day goes by very slowly when there is no opportunity for meaningful conversation.

Lori was very disappointed to learn of the Peruvian government's position on the recent decision of the Inter-American Court but she knows we will be pushing her case forward as strongly as ever -- we will not give up!

- Rhoda and Mark Berenson