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Less than two months ago, the Division of Justice and Peace issued a statement of solidarity with those suffering persecution for political views in Bolivia from an oppressive military regime. In this statement we indicated that about 5,000 persons were forced to flee for fear of their lives.
Many Bolivian political refugees are in Chile. There are also many political refugees from other Latin American countries who sought asylum in Chile. These people are being taken into custody in Chile and their basic human rights, as well as their very lives, are now in danger.
It is our concern that the human rights of these refugees be safeguarded and that the Junta fully observe international legal standards for the granting of asylum, safe conduct, and humane treatment of all prisoners. In this regard we hope these political exiles will be permitted to go to some neutral third party country.
We commend those nations which have offered asylum. We also call upon the United States State Department to give its support to this effort. We, furthermore, applaud the initiative taken by the high commissioner on refugees of the United Nations to send his representative, Mr. Hasselman, to Chile. We are pleased to learn of the report that he has been granted entrance into Chile.
It is a matter of record that the bishops of Chile worked diligently to avoid the outbreak of violence in their country, and they are trying to avoid any further unnecessary bloodshed.
We, therefore, associate ourselves in the spirit of solidarity with them in their recent appeal which, unfortunately, was not publicly broadcast in Chile:
“We hope that those who have fallen in battle, and, especially ex-president Allende, will be duly respected. We ask moderation in regards to the defeated, and that there be no unnecessary reprisals; that consideration be given to the sincere idealism which motivated them; and that there be an end to hatred -- the hour of reconciliation has arrived. People know well our efforts to keep Chile within the law and constitutional order, while exhausting all means to avoid the violent outcome of our institutional crisis. The blood that has reddened our streets, our neighborhoods, our factories -- the blood of civilians, and soldiers -- the tears of so many women and children grieves and weighs enormously on us. We hope that the social gains of the workers will not be ignored, but rather increased. The good sense and patriotism of the Chileans, united to the democratic and humanistic heritage of our Armed Forces, will return Chile to the institutional order, as the members of the military Junta have promised.”
Rev. J. Bryan Hehir
Director, Division of Justice and Peace
September 24, 1973
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