21 October, 2020

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Chilean Judges Apologise For ‘State Abuse’ Under Pinochet

Chile’s judges made an unprecedented apology Wednesday to “victims of state abuse” during the regime of dictator Augusto Pinochet – relatives who sought missing loved ones but were rejected by courts saying they had no information.

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    One day when a true Justice system is re-established in Sri Lanka, this would happen in Sri Lanka as well. We cannot however expect this honesty from our present Cheap Justice.

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    Marvellous! The courage to say, publicly, we were wrong!

    Anyone interested in this volte face might also care to watch a fascinating documentary THE JUDGE & THE GENERAL made by Elizabeth Farnsworth & Patricio Lanfranco about Appeals Court Judge Juan Guzman. He had been opposed to Salvador Allende & supported Pinochet’s coup, & was a judge during the latter’s dictatorship.

    In 1998 when he was assigned “the first criminal cases against the… ex-dictator…no one expected much [but] the filmmakers…trace Guzmán’s descent into what he calls ‘the abyss,’ where he uncovers the past – including his own role in the tragedy.” Thousands of habeas corpus appeals had been denied during Pinochet’s rule, including by Guzman. Had he & other judges not written such denials,many lives may have been saved. Guzman’s investigation into several deaths made him realise how blind he had been: “I would say it opened the eyes of my soul,” he said.

    I believe he went on to set up a Human Rights Centre, maybe in a university in Chile.

    I think many of those who sit in judgement or governance over us today would do wll to watch this documentary. History will NOt absolve them unless they absolve themselves first!

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    Dear Manel,

    I was touched when I heard this piece of news in the global networks.
    As I recall the news item said the judges “regretted they did not do what they could have and should have done” My mind went back to the days when we had honourable men as Supreme Court judges to whom compromising their roles with the executive was unthinkable. Some of the names that come to mind are SJs Basnayake, HNG Fernando, George Samarawickrema, Sri Skandarajah, V. Manickavasagar, Parinda Ranasinghe
    and certainly many more. It is compromising mice now – whose names and judgements are linked with all sorts of rackets it is generally said “to know what the judgement is going to be you will have to see who the judge/s is/are going to be” There is a senior SJ who can be seen today in most of the drinking clubs in Colombo in the company of suspect businessman. One such is also entrusted with an important role as a Commissioner. I am reminded of what a leading Indian SJ commented recently on a controversial judicial appointment “It is good for judges to know a little of the law. But more important to know the Justice Minister at some personal level”

    I never thought I will see the day when our once splendid judicial system will be brought this low. I shudder to think it will only get worse.

    Senguttuvan

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      Dear Senguttuvan

      Can you include Parinder Ranasinghe in your list so confidently?
      My own experience would make me hesitate to do so. I think he devilled in HWJ’s chambers, & years later, when JR was in command,went along with some unfortunate judgements. I must look back thru files to check that out, tho.– Manel

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    I will never forgive these Chilean judges; apology or no apology.
    They were bastards and complicit in mass murder.
    Manel, I think your all too ready tears are naive.

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      WHAT tears, Rohini? What “all too ready tears”?

      I didnt shed any–certainly not for the lately repentant judges.

      However, I still think their apology is a small (yes, small, because it cannot bring back the loved dead) kind of balm, help towards closure for the hundreds of thousands left behind nursing their stricken hearts all these years.

      Of course there is more to be done and that is investigation of each and every death and “disappearance” where there is the slightest possibility still of doing this. Many of us in Sri Lanka have lost loved ones whose final fate has never been unearthed. We all need to know what happened, for ourselves and for the unearthing, the “restoration” of those who have been effaced, wiped out. The apology of those who were instrumental in the deaths of so many “disappeared” is just a step in this process, yes, nothing for you and me to shed tears about, Rohini, but you can bet that some of the grieving Chileans shed tears even while they may have cursed the apologists.

      Rohini, have you called for a thorough investigation into the mass grave at Matale? How do you feel about those who caused (probably ordered) THOSE deaths@ Will you speak out, in your own name, for the dead there to be “restored” to their loved ones?

      I once wrote a piece about such a “disappearance” in Jaffna of a much admired and loved lawyer & human rights worker. To this day we don’t know exactly what happened to him, but I believe some of his executioners may still be around. It will be something, tho we will always mourn his death, if any of them comes forward and shows real repentance for the death of this great human being.

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      WHAT tears, Rohini? What “all too ready tears”?

      I didnt shed any–certainly not for the lately repentant judges.

      However, I still think their apology is a small (yes, small, because it cannot bring back the loved dead) kind of balm, help towards closure for the hundreds of thousands left behind nursing their stricken hearts all these years.

      Of course there is more to be done and that is investigation of each and every death and “disappearance” where there is the slightest possibility still of doing this. Many of us in Sri Lanka have lost loved ones whose final fate has never been unearthed. We all need to know what happened, for ourselves and for the unearthing, the “restoration” of those who have been effaced, wiped out. The apology of those who were instrumental in the deaths of so many “disappeared” is just a step in this process, yes, nothing for you and me to shed tears about, Rohini, but you can bet that some of the grieving Chileans shed tears even while they may have cursed the apologists.

      Rohini, have you called for a thorough investigation into the mass grave at Matale? How do you feel about those who caused (probably ordered) THOSE deaths? Will you speak out, in your own name, for the dead there to be “restored” to their loved ones?

      I once wrote a piece about such a “disappearance” in Jaffna of a much admired and loved lawyer & human rights worker. To this day we don’t know exactly what happened to him, but I believe some of his executioners may still be around. It will be something, tho we will always mourn his death, if any of them comes forward and shows real repentance for the death of this great human being.

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        Manel,

        Clearly you are a more compassionate person than I am. I cannot overcome my wanting harsh punishment for these Chilen judges and also the Sri Lankan ogres you draw mention to. In my mind these apologies, NOW, are selfserving and faked,

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          Rohini, why do you insist on reading more into my words than they carry — of course, perhaps I am just a poor communicator & should just hold my peace.

          I dont feel the SLIGHTEST compassion for these judges & I hope that some kind of process is underway whereby they can make recompense for the terrible tragedies they assisted.

          If there is anything in Chilean law (already) that applies to their acts of ommission & commission, I imagine it will be applied to them, & I hope it would include some kind of “compensation” to victims and/or their families, in addition to upholding the latters’ right to information about their loved ones. I have not yet seen a more detailed report of this affair. Perhaps such processes are already underway.

          Each country must adopt its own ways of dealing with such vast crimes. Processes which emerge in one country may not be practicable, etc., in another (though we must learn from them, of course). For instance, South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation approach may not work in a country where many HR violators are still inextricably involved with the ruling power.

          But whatever it is, we NEED some kind of reconciliation process, and yet another round of farcical elections is not going to contribute to one.

          I am utterly pessimistic about our own situation, I’m afraid.

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    Don’t you all think, that the executioners or the propagators of those crimes will one day pay for their Sins.

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      No, I’m afraid I dont!

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    Who unleashed this monster called ‘Pinochet’on the people of Chile.

    The CIA.

    If the CIA did not finance, train, provide logistics and assurances of recognition after the coup, the coup in Chile would never have happened. Pinochet was a dictator who was feted by the White House and British rulers till very recent times.

    Dictatorship means – A form of government in which all the fullness of state power belongs to only one political position – the ruler (dictator), the ruling party, the ruling group of people, the ruling alliance and the ruling social class. Operation of a dictatorial regime is accompanied by radical or repressive measures against political opponents and the cruel suppression or elimination of those rights and freedoms of citizens, who are in a way contrary to the position of the regime.

    Now compare and contrast this discription with what is going on in Sri Lanka at the moment.

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      Gonbella, Pinochet’s carbon copy MR has been foisted by the very forces that were responsible for crimes in Chile, on us as well. This is what they have done the world over as War is good Business for their Economies to grow and to keep their hegemony going.

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