Noam Chomsky's statement in support of Lori Berenson

10 June, 1999

Lori Berenson has been subjected to a travesty of justice and a grim exercise of state terror. The victim in this case is a young Northamerican woman of remarkable courage and integrity, who has chosen to accept the fate of all too many others in Peru. She is also -- and not so indirectly -- a victim of Washington's policies, in two respects: because of its support for the Peruvian terror state and the conditions it imposes on its population, and because of its evasiveness in coming to her defense, as it can readily do, with considerable if not decisive influence. Also not so indirectly, she is a victim of all of those -- in all honesty, I cannot fail to include myself -- who have done far too little to rescue her from the suffering she has endured for her refusal to bend to the will of state terrorist authorities.

Lori Berenson eminently qualifies as a prisoner of conscience. She has rightly received the support of the UN High Commission on Human Rights and Amnesty International. With immense courage and self-sacrifice, she is not only standing up with honor and dignity for her own rights, but for the great number of people of Peru who are suffering severe repression and extreme economic hardship as a consequence of policies that sacrifice much of the population to the greed and power of small sectors of privilege -- in Peru itself, and in the deeply unjust and coercive global system that has been constructed to yield such outcomes.

Lori Berenson is not only a wonderful person whose rights are under savage attack, but also an inspiring symbol of the aspirations of countless people throughout the world who seek a measure of the freedom and rights that they deserve, in a world that is more humane and more just, and that we can help create if we are willing to devote to this cause a fraction of the heroism that Lori Berenson has so impressively demonstrated in her honorable and far too lonely struggle.

Noam Chomsky