NEW YORK (Dec. 20)
Representatives of the three major faiths jointly appealed to Argentine President Jorge Rafael Videla today for an immediate amnesty to “prisoners of conscience now being detained without charge in government facilities.” In a letter to Argentina’s Ambassador to the United States, Jorge A. Aja Espil, the three human rights leaders noted “your government’s pledge to President Carter that the human rights situation in Argentina would show marked improvement by Christmas.”
The statement, further observing that the spirit of Chanukah and Christmas was a time of freedom and good will to all, was issued by Thomas E. Quigley, advisor for Latin America, international justice and peace, U.S. Catholic Conference; Rev. William L. Wipfler, human rights director, National Council of Churches; and Rabbi Morton M. Rosenthal, director of the Latin American affairs department, Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith.
Human rights groups here have expressed growing concern over the unexplained disappearance of thousands of Argentine citizens. Reports tell of men dressed in civilian clothes, reputed to be security agents, taking people out of their homes in the middle of the night. some are never seen again, according to these reports, others are detained, frequently for long periods of time, without explanation.
The joint communication today asked the Argentine government “to make public the names of all prisoners held on political charges so that the anguish of uncertainty may be lifted from thousands of Argentine homes.” While the total number of such incarcerations is unclear at present, it is known that during the visit by Secretary of State Cyrus Vance to Argentina in November, a computerized list containing some 7500 names was delivered to the Foreign Ministry.