To the Editors:
The New York Review has been eminently faithful in alorting its readers to the epidemic spread of torture in the world, to the brutal treatment accorded non-violent political dissidents in the jails, camps, and psychiatric clinics of the Soviet Union, Greece, South Vietnam, Brazil.
In Paris, on December 10, Amnesty International will open the first World Conference for the Abolition of Torture. Representatives of different governments and delegates from UNESCO, the Council of Europe, the UN, and sixty or seventy national and international organizations on five continents have accepted invitations to participate.
Meanwhile, in Australasia, Benelux, the British Isles, Germany, Scandinavia, and most recently Canada, preliminary seminars have been conducted. The legal and moral aspects of torture, the socio-economic and political factors, the medical and theological implications are being discussed in depth by leading doctors and lawyers and psychologists and professors. Papers resulting from these symposia will be presented in Paris. Ramsey Clark will speak on the identifications of individuals and institutions responsible. Among the friends of Amnesty International expected to attend are director Costa Gavras, former minister Lord Caradon, exiled journalist Marcio Alves, law professor (Greek ex-prisoner) Georg Mangakis, Joan Baez, Dr. Martin Neimoller, Pierre Emmanuel, and, addressing the final session, Nobel Prize winner René Cassin. Dialogues between such participants as human rights commissioners and police academy officers are projected.
A resolution on torture has just passed in the UN. Sean McBride, AI’s chairman, has just returned from Moscow, the first Westerner permitted to come there for official talks on prisoners-of-conscience. But this week AI’s four-man mission in Korea has been kidnapped and jailed. The mission to Chile has not yet filed a report, but word is that the sanctuaries are not working. It is urgent that the Paris conference, that all of us, explore every avenue toward halting savagery to the politically powerless.
December 13, 1973