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PUBLIC DECLARATION

A night without sleep so that humanity may sleep in peace

Today, the Association of Relatives of the Disappeared, together with social, cultural and political organisations is starting a 24-hour vigil awaiting the historic verdict in London tomorrow.

The organisations that are supporting us today are the same ones that have supported us for more than 25 years in our long standing struggle for justice for our disappeared relatives and for all the victims of the military dictatorship. Our special acknowledgement goes to our compañeros of the "Picket of London" and to other countries all over the world that for five months have denounced in several ways the impunity that exists in Chile today.

We consider that the present moments are crucial for humanity and trust that this verdict will be favourable for the cause of human rights in Chile and around the world. We are sure that it will set an historic precedent for international justice. It will constitute an exemplary sanction for all those who have abused and still abuse their power by perpetrating crimes against humanity that because of their nature cannot be protected either by amnesty or by proclamations. The crimes perpetrated by Pinochet and its regime in Chile have violated the fundamental principles of the human being such as the right to live and the right to free thinking.

However, not knowing the outcome of the verdict, we consider it necessary to warn society of the danger of an adverse verdict for the victims. This will only facilitate Pinochet's impunity and will allow the dictators of the world to carry on making a mockery of justice and then protecting themselves with diplomatic immunity and amnesty laws.

Once more, we repudiate the conniving attitude of the right, the government and the judiciary system. They have opted for the defence of the dictator by appealing to principles like the territoriality of the law and sovereignty, thereby ignoring the demands for truth and justice of the people of Chile. They have also tried to ignore the safeguards in our legislation that the Tribunals could be declared competent and administer justice in our territory, as we have demanded during the dictatorship and transition to democracy.

We do not recognise any legal right of the Armed Forces to emit any kind of political opinions in a judicial matter. The extremely arrogant attitude showed yesterday by the often questioned General Fernando Rojas Vender, who made a parallel between the situation brought up by Pinochet's legal proceedings and the Popular Unity government, is an historic aberration. It shows the anxiety of those who are aware that they could have the same fate as that of the dictator: to face justice.

Our demands are no different from those of any Chilean who has been a victim of the arrogance of power and violence. We are not guided by the feeling of revenge but by that of justice. We will never stop appealing to our irrevocable right to know where are our beloved relatives and to know who murdered them and hid their bodies to conceal their crimes. We demand that justice should impute the maximum punishment for all those who have violated human rights.

We appeal to the national and international community to be aware of situations in which the kind of crimes condemned today could be repeated in complicity with the fear and silence they have imposed in the society. The new generations are demanding that we maintain alive our commitment to Truth and Justice for all those Chileans who are the victims of the military dictatorship as the only way to overcome the tragedy we still live.

Association of Relatives of the Disappeared,
Santiago, 23rd March 1999.

Translated by Remember-Chile

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