[News] Lori Berenson, today marks 10 years in prison

Anti-Imperialist News News at freedomarchives.org
Wed Nov 30 08:54:05 EST 2005

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

To Friends and Supporters of Lori Berenson:


It is hard to believe that Lori has completed 10 years of unjust
imprisonment - 3, 653 days of her life.  In the worst-case scenario she
has served half her 20 year sentence.


To commemorate this tenth anniversary Lori wrote a statement that has
been broadcast in both English and Spanish and is expected to be aired
today on Democracy Now (www.democracynow.org) and on Free Speech Radio
News (www.fsrn.org) on independent radio stations across the country.

Special thanks to Noelle Hanrahan of www.prisonradio.org and to the
Northern California coordinators of the Committee to Free Lori Berenson
for making this possible.

A copy of the press release along with Lori's written statement as well
as the links to the broadcasts in English and Spanish appear on the
homepage of the www.freelori.org Website.

My name is Lori Berenson. I am a New York born 
and raised political prisoner in Perú. I have 
spent many years in Central and South America, 
trying to contribute to the efforts of those who 
seek social justice for all. I continue this work from prison.

On November 30, 1995, I was pulled off of a 
public bus in Lima, Perú. Like thousands of 
Peruvians, I was detained by the anti-terrorist 
police, tried for treason by a hooded military 
tribunal under draconian anti-terrorism laws and condemned to life in prison.

This all occurred in the context of an internal 
conflict in Perú that began in the early 1980's 
with the armed insurgence of the Peruvian 
Communist Party, also known as the Shining Path, 
and later with the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary 
Movement - the MRTA. This conflict had parallels 
with other conflicts that occurred in much of Latin America.

When I was arrested, Peruvian President Fujimori 
made me a symbol for his anti-terrorist campaign. 
His ability to use the media for his own 
publicity purposes led to my case being very high profile.

Because of the tireless efforts of my family, 
friends and many others in the US and elsewhere 
in the world, the Fujimori regime was forced to 
bring my case to a civilian anti-terrorist court 
in 2000. During the period of the falling of the 
Fujimori regime and the formation of a 
transitional government in 2001, I received a new 
trial and was sentenced to 20 years for 
collaboration with terrorism. A year and a half 
later, the anti-terrorism legislation was 
modified slightly and those incarcerated under it 
began to receive new trials. In 2004, in light of 
the international anti-terrorism campaign in our 
post 9/11 world and under extreme pressure from 
Perú's political class, the Inter-American Court 
of Human Rights ratified my sentence.

The details of what happened to me are irrelevant 
in the broader picture of the thousands of 
Peruvians who have been killed, disappeared, 
tortured and detained during the internal 
conflict. Since history has always been 
re-written by those who have the upper-hand, the 
issue of subversion became the scapegoat for all of Perú's problems.

In all parts of the world, symbolic culprits are 
used to obscure the root causes of social 
discontent, to distract attention and distort 
realities when any group of people questions the existing order.

The world order, especially in this era of 
globalized capitalism is designed to benefit a 
powerful few at the expense of the majority of 
our world's peoples. This system is unjust, 
immoral, terrifying, and just plain insane. We must change it.

People all over the world are imprisoned today 
and suffering tremendous injustices for 
challenging this order. I express my solidarity 
with all of those prisoners, and in particular my 
admiration for those whose courage we can hear in 
the voice of Mumia Abu Jamal, in the writings 
about Leonard Peltier, in the struggle for the 
liberation of Puerto Rico, and many others. The 
dignity demonstrated throughout long years of 
struggle and resistance under one of the harshest 
jail regimes on earth is an example for all 
prisoners and for human beings in general.

For prisoners, the struggle for basic dignity is 
a daily plight. Prisons are just a smaller 
version of the general system that operates in 
this world, and that is what is wrong. The desire 
to change it is why many of us are here in the 
first place. It is a worthy cause to be behind bars for.

The Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
(415) 863-9977
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