The Minister of the Presidency of Chile responded to a CCS letter, on behalf of President Bachelet, stating that there is some movement in the country to address the human rights violations that occurred during the military dictatorship of Augusto Pinochet. Actions that will are taking place are:
- The National Congress is processing a Bill of Law to create an Undersecretary of Human Rights.
- Bill includes a National Human Rights Plan that will last for four years and will investigate crimes against humanity that occurred during the Pinochet years. Reparations will be included as part of this plan.
- The government is analyzing the establishment of a state entity that will take charge of this process under the Undersecretary.
Additionally, a judicial investigation of the Weisfeiler case is being pursued under the Program of Human Rights of the Interior Ministry and Public Security.
July 17th. 2015
MR. JOEL LEBOWITZ
Committee of Concemed Scientists. Inc.
400 East 85th Street, Apt. 10K
New York. NY 10028
Dear Mr. Lebowitz and Committee:
On behalf of the President of Chile, Ms. Michelle Bachelet, I inform you the following:
We have received your letter. dated on April 30th, in representation of the Committee of Concemed Scientists. in which you raise the case of Dr. Boris Weisfeiler. Professor of Mathematics at Penn State University in the United States, who disappeared in Chile in 1985. In your letter. you indicate that iwo human rights commissions (Rettig and Valech) have failed to establish that the disappearance of Mr. Weisfeiler is a human rights violation, committed during the civil-military dictatorship that ruled our country for over 20 years.
Mr. Weisfeiler’s sister, Olga, has visited Chile in order to seek for the truth in this case. Moreover. this year she had an interview with Mr. Francisco Ugas, Director of the Human Rights Program of the Ministry of Interior and Public Security, office established to contribute to the clarification of the truth about those acts that constitute serious violations of human rights, occurred in Chile on September 11. 1973 and March 10, 1990. Ms. Olga Weisfeiler asked Mr. Ugas for the recognition of her brother, Boris, as a human rights victim and that the Human Rights Program becomes part of the judicial process that is currently under the responsibility of the Judge, Minister Jorge Zepeda.
As you may be aware, the Rettig Report, officially The National Commission for Truth and Reconciliation Report, is a 1991 report made by a commission designated by the President Mr. Patricio Aylwin encompassing human rights abuses resulting in death or disappearance that occurred in Chile during the years of military dictatorship under Augusto Pinochet. The commission’s final report documented 2.298 cases of disappearance, killing, torture and kidnapping, including short accounts of nearly all victims whose stories it heard. In 634 cases, the commission could not conclusively determine that the person was killed for political reasons. It found 515 cases that were beyond its mandate, and that in 473 cases, no information beyond the name of a disappeared person could be determined. Between 1992 and 1996 the National Corporation for Reparation and Reconciliation reviewed 2.188 cases, and finally recognized 899 victims of human rights and political violence.
On the other hand, the Valech Report, officially The National Commission on Political Imprisonment and Torture Report, was a record of abuses committed in Chile between 1973 and 1990 by agents of the military regime. The report was published on November 29, 2004 and found that 27.255 people had been imprisoned for political reasons. A revised version was released on June 1, 2005, recognizing 1.204 new cases of political imprisonment. The commission was reopened in February 2010 for 18 months, and its mandate included reviewing new cases of human rights abuses resulting in death or disappearance. The commission found that 9,795 people had been imprisoned for political reasons and that most had been tortured. It also found that 30 people had been executed or “disappeared”, rising to over 40 000 cases recognized by this Commission and its predecessors, including missing prisoners, political executions, victims of political violence, torture and political prisoners during 17 years of the dictatorship.
Currently, there is no commission or entity established to recognize victims of crimes of the dictatorship. I must mention that the National Congress is currently processing a Bill of Law that creates an Undersecretary of Human Rights (No 8207-07). This Bill considers the development of a periodical National Human Rights Plan that will last four years and it addresses, as a priority, the promotion of the investigation and punishment of crimes against humanity that occurred during the dictatorship (September 11, 1973 and March 10, 1990); the preservation of the historical memory of human rights violations; and the promotion of the reparation of human rights violations that occulTed during the dictatorship. The government is analyzing establishing a state entity that takes charge of recognition, reception, legal and social assistance, and reparation for victims of dictatorship, once the new Undersecretary is operating.
As for the judicial case investigating Mr. Weistfeiler’s disappearance, the Program of Human Rights of the Interior Ministry and Public Security is currently part in this case, less than a month ago.
I really hope that these measures will, somehow, contribute to repair the damages suffered during those difficult years and to honor the memory of those who lost their lives, those who lost their love ones and friends under unfair, obscure and unknown circumstances.
- CCS Requests Chile President’s Support For Permanent Human Rights Commission (concernedscientists.org)
- Boris Weisfeiler Archive (concernedscientists.org)