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WE EX-NAVY SERVICEMEN SAY NO TO IMPUNITY FOR PINOCHET

Due to the excessive amount of information in the various news media concerning a group of ex-navy servicemen detained before the 1973 coup in Chile. We, the undersigned, wish to make the following declaration: Preparations for the military coup began to be planned well before the 11 of September 1973.

Already in 1971, we began to detect actions by officers in the navy* that were focussed on creating an anti-government atmosphere and on gauging the opinion of the troops towards Allende's government. In 1972 this became more obvious as military exercises started to transform themselves into preparations for military action within a city. The Air Force has its "Operation Thunder" and the Navy created its own operations.

Divisional meetings were no longer used for arranging navy business but for discussions on political matters such as the National Unified Schools project. It was clear that the principal objectives of the meetings were to influence the troops politically and on the other hand to detect the potential opponents to the planners of the coup.

At the beginning of 1973, the officers' actions became so blatant that we no longer had any doubts that a military coup was being planned. Faced with this situation we felt obliged to report these matters to president Salvador Allende so to that end we contacted the socialist senator Carlos Altamirano, the MAPU member of parliament Guillermo Garreton, the leader of the MIR Miguel Enriquez and other political leaders close to the government. Our contacts with these persons were detected by the navy intelligence service and approximately of 250 of us navy servicemen were detained between the fifth and the tenth of August 1973. The great majority of us detainees suffered long sessions of torture and solitary confinement. Lastly we were accused and condemned for the crimes of sedition and attempted mutiny.

The participants in the coup, establishing a norm that creating new laws legitimised their right to conspiracy - torturing precisely those that were revealing the coup that was already in progress. The political leaders that received our information were themselves the victims of persecution.

Events afterwards proved that our denunciations were true, the military coup was prepared much before the 11 of September of 1973 and that is also proved by declarations made by the principal figures involved in the coup. To give an example, Pinochet himself declared to the Las Ultimas Noticias newspaper on 8 August 1974: " The army planned at that moment (March of 1973) its plan of action. We were eight officers that planned or received orders to put it into action", and recently declared to the magazine Cosas (Septembre 1998): "The military coup was planned by me".

We wish to make this declaration as our contribution to the ongoing debate and discussion concerning human rights.

Torture has no dates, the victims live with the sequels for the rest of their lives.

Signatory details and explanatory footnotes to follow...

Last updated: 21.3.99

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