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We are now seeing terrorist actions by Tamil separatists in Sri Lanka, which, I think, have the purpose of getting the Government to engage in brutality against Tamils so as to aid the separatists.
I think you have to distinguish between two groups of people in these countries. Democratic opposition figures who do not engage in this kind of behavior and whose only goal is to increase the amount of democracy
Mr. KOSTMAYER. Right.
Mr. ABRAMS [continuing]. But, in many of the countries, there are also extremists who wish to create a violent and anarchic situation so that they can seize power.
Mr. KOSTMAYER. So, in other words, it's one side that the democratic opponents versus the extremists, the extremists who are trying to provoke the governments.
Mr. ABRAMS. Yes.
Mr. KOSTMAYER. And, is it fairly equal between the two groups in the countries in which they are?
Mr. ABRAMS. Certainly. In terms of size, most of the time, the terrorist groups are tiny, but you don't need many to really disrupt a society.
This is an old tactic. I just point out that the characteristic slogan of the Communists in Germany in the late twenties and early thirties was "Nach Hitler Uns." That is to say, "after Hitler,
They wanted to create disorder and violence in Germany, and they were not afraid of Hitler taking power because they thought they would follow.
The same phenomenon, that is the terrorists encourage, in a sense, a military takeover because they believe, in many cases, they are right, that will make more and more of the population feel that only the extremists offer an alternative to the government.
Mr. KOSTMAYER. I appreciate the gentleman yielding so much of his time.
Let me try to quantify this one more way. And, I'm sure as the gentleman from New York said earlier, and I'm sure he's right, that it just takes one extremist, one terrorist to kill many, many people.
So, if we don't look at it in terms of the number of democratic opponents of government versus the number of extremists versus the government, if we look at it in terms of the total amount of repression in the world, of the total amount of repression in the world, what percentage, if you can, is provoked deliberately by extremists who want to provoke it as opposed to the amount which is provoked by legitimate democratic, and I would even say legitimate revoluntaries opposition, if I could say that?
Can you give me a
Mr. ABRAMS. I really can't. I just never thought of that question before. I think I can give a number of cases.
Mr. KOSTMAYER. Well, I guess I'm just wrong. It just seems extraordinary to me that a significant-I think what you're saying, and correct me if I'm wrong, is that a significant amount of repression in the world today is deliberately provoked by terrorist groups who want to create an atmosphere in which things will become so
bad that their efforts to topple the existing government will achieve much broader support than ordinarily.
Mr. ABRAMS. Yes, I'd say a significant amount. We're talking about small numbers in the sense of-no, no, but even the vast-I think it's fair to say, without looking at the map, that the vast majority of the repressive regimes were not put in power in a series of events involving this kind of deliberate activity.
But, it is still significant. We see it right now in Peru as another example of an effort to force the government into that kind of behavior.
Mr. KOSTMAYER. The Shining Path.
Mr. ABRAMS. But, while it may not explain a very large amount, I mean, it is certainly a minority of situations.
It is significant as-it is a significant phenomena.
Mr. KOSTMAYER. Thank you. I thank my very dear friend from New York.
Mr. LEACH. Will the gentleman yield to the ranking Republican? Mr. SOLOMON. I'll be glad to yield.
Mr. LEACH. I think part of this discussion is sparked by the design of the sentence. In the sentence, you said, "no discussion of torture in the modern world can be complete, Mr. Chairman without pointing out that there are extremist groups which deliberately seek to provoke government repression and torture in an effort to polarize society."
When you get right down to it, I don't think there are many instances where people personally want to be tortured, although the issue you raise is real in that there are certainly groups that want to destabilize society. The principle of the anarchists or anarchosyndicalists, as we have known in history, really had such a philosophy in the 1830's, 1840's, through the 1870's, more or less, maybe 1880's, and to some extent the 1920's and 1930's. But, it's not a terribly live philosophy today. My own view is that there is some of that and you can never dismiss it when there is a little.
In addition, as the gentleman from New York has pointed out, in the area of anarchy, very few can do a very lot.
My personal suspicion is that those who think that it's people who want to be tortured who are causing most of the trouble in the world are the same type of people who believe that there is one whale of a lot of unwed welfare mothers in America who want to have more children in order to get Government checks.
I think there is a little bit of that which occurs, but not very much.
Mr. ABRAMS. I think that we're a little bit talking past each other.
The guerrillas that engage in this type of behavior don't want to be tortured, they want democrats to be tortured. They want the head of the independent free trade union associated with the ICFTU [International Confederation of Free Trade Unions] to be tortured.
They want the director of the university to be tortured. They want priests to be tortured, because that's the kind of activity on the part of the government that will alienate the masses, and will give them their opportunity to take power.
But, that phenomenon in which guerrilla groups, for the most part, communist guerrilla groups, seek to create chaos and, in a sense, to elicit repression on the part of the government. That, I think, is a phenomenon.
They want other people tortured.
Mr. LEACH. I agree with that completely.
Mr. ABRAMS. Oh, yes.
Mr. LEACH. I wouldn't differ with that analysis.
Mr. SOLOMON. Could I reclaim what little of my time I have left? Just to answer my colleague from Pennsylvania, I too, was in El Salvador.
Not too long ago, I spent a number of days there in which we traveled extensively out into the boondocks, so to speak, and met with campesino farmers.
I recall vividly Berlin, the city of Berlin, which had been overrun about a week before by the Communist guerrillas. They had blown up the only medical store, the only hospital in Berlin at that time. They had destroyed the waterworks. They had just demolished the power station serving that city.
The guerrillas left the city in a deplorable state. And time after time, just plain people would talk about having been taken prisoner and tortured by the guerrillas. And, then let go.
It was almost as if they were let go so that they would go back and then create some kind of activity in which right wing death squads would go out and retaliate in some way.
I found this time and time again. And one thing that just irks me, Mr. Secretary, I know it's not your fault, but we never read very much about these kind of guerrilla atrocities coming from the left. I know it's difficult for organizations like Amnesty International and others to even develop information on this because they don't have an entity to go to. These activities are hidden and really don't exist except when guerrillas are doing these things.
Mr. KOSTMAYER. Will the gentleman yield for a question?
Mr. KOSTMAYER. Does the gentleman from New York see a distinction between atrocities committed by groups such as the guerrillas in El Salvador and-I agree with the gentleman that they do commit atrocities and I share his condemnation of them-and between groups that the United States receives aid from, such as other governments in Guatemala, to say, which would engage in systematic torture?
Mr. SOLOMON. No, I don't think that any of us can condone torture or human rights violations of any kind. And, certainly I don't. But my point is that I gave to this subcommittee about 6 months ago, documented evidence which was produced from a compilation of radio broadcasts from Radio Havana and from Radio Sandino in Nicaragua. These broadcasts revealed that Communist guerrillas had taken credit for over 10,000 rapes and murders and tortures, in El Salvador.
The point I'm trying to make is that in El Salvador, it is not the Government that condones the rightwing death squads. It is not the army that condones it. When you have these things happening, you have local militia who are involved. This is what I ran into in
El Salvador, a local militiaman whose daughter or wife may have been accosted by the Communist guerrillas.
Well, he's not going to forget that. That local militia man becomes a right wing death squad member. He goes out and he's going to kill somebody, he's going to take somebody's life.
I really think that we ought to take these provocations into consideration because they do affect our quiet diplomacy policy.
Mr. ABRAMS. If I could just add one point, Mr. Kostmayer, in the Kissinger Report, there is a quote on exactly this point from Carlos Montigella, who is a Brazilian revolutionary, who wrote the manual of the Urban Guerrilla, about this question of trying to bring chaos and elicit repression from the government as a way of gaining support for the guerrilla groups.
I don't have a page number, I'm afraid.
Mr. SOLOMON. I have no further questions, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. YATRON. Thank you, Mr. Solomon.
I want to say thank you very much for being here today. Although we may disagree from time to time on policy, I want to say that you have been very cooperative and very helpful to the subcommittee, and we appreciate your cooperation.
Mr. ABRAMS. Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman.
Mr. YATRON. Our next witness is Aryeh Neier, vice chairman of Helsinki Watch.
Mr. Neier, will you please proceed?
STATEMENT OF ARYEH NEIER, VICE CHAIRMAN, HELSINKI WATCH
Mr. NEIER. Mr. Chairman, if I may, I'd like to submit my prepared statement for the record, and comment briefly.
Mr. YATRON. Without objection.
Mr. NEIER. Thank you.
Mr. Chairman, I was asked to talk today about U.S. policy to combat torture. It seems to me this is a very important issue.
In a sense, the United States has very firm and very clear policies.
Those policies are embodied in the laws of the United States. We have created the post of Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights to put someone in charge of the effort to promote human rights and to deal with such practices as torture.
Our laws require preparation of reports on each country in the world, documenting the extent to which they engage in such practices as torture. Our laws also require that a number of the programs of the United States in dealing with foreign countries be designed so as to limit the support the United States gives to countries that engage in practices such as torture.
The laws of the United States require that we cut off military aid and military sales to countries that consistently engage in torture. The laws of the United States require that we cut off most forms of economic aid to countries that consistently engage in torture.
The laws of the United States require that we not support multilateral development loans to countries that consistently engage in torture.
Unfortunately, Mr. Chairman, in the tenure of the present administration, these laws have primarily been honored in the breach.
When the administration took office, it reversed U.S. policy with respect to a number of the countries which have consistently engaged in torture. For example, the United States has provided various forms of economic aid, military aid, or support for multilateral development loans to countries such as Chile, El Salvador, Guatemala, Uruguay, Paraguay, which have systematically engaged in torture over a number of years.
This is extremely unfortunate in our view. It's unfortunate, first, because it puts the United States in the position of disregarding its own laws. As a society which believes in law, and believes that the rule of law should be advanced worldwide, for the United States to disregard its own laws in this respect is obviously unfortunate.
Second, it puts the administration in a very peculiar position. The most effective ways to try to reduce such abhorrent practices as torture in our view are to expose and condemn the practice, and to organize international condemnation of the practice.
But, in the process of disregarding the laws, the administration has forced itself into a bind. Various human rights organizations, such as Amnesty International or my own organization, the Americas Watch, produce reports documenting torture.
The administration, nevertheless, continues with a policy which involves military aid and military sales and economic support and support for multilateral development loans to such countries despite the U.S. laws requiring that these be ended if the reports that we publish are true.
That puts the administration in the position where it finds itself disputing the reports that we publish, challenging the accuracy of what we have to say about torture.
Accordingly, the administration is in the position where it very frequently says that the evidence we present for practices such as torture is mistaken. It becomes the defender of governments which various reports say have engaged in torture.
There has been discussion of Guatemala this morning. In December 1982, President Reagan met with former President Rios Montt in Honduras and characterized the allegations of human rights abuses in Guatemala, such as torture, is a "bum rap." Mr. Abrams, who just testified, responded to one report which my organization issued, which included a lot of information that had been supplied by Guatemalan refugees in Mexico, and said that the refugees were guerrilla sympathizers.
Somehow, he disposed of a 100,000 people who had fled their homes, implying that they would leave their homes despite the hardship of refugee existence, in order to spread tales about the Guatemalan Government. In order to tell these tales, he also implied that if their views were views that were opposed to the Government, then those views had to be disregarded when they described horrors that they had endured.
More recently, and Mr. Abrams repeated this today, he has responded to reports of human rights abuses in Guatemala by saying that there are great improvements there.