Thursday, 22 July 2010

Chile: Church Calls for Amnesty

Chile's bishops' conference is calling for an amnesty which could affect some members of the military imprisoned for Pinochet-era crimes. They describe this as a "humanitarian act which will contribute to reconciliation".

According to the BBC, the Catholic Church in Chile is suggesting that "any members of the country's military who show repentance for the crimes they committed under military rule" should be pardoned, but AP specifies that "the church's proposed amnesty would apply to prisoners who are sick or older than 70 or those who have served half their sentence". The prospective amnesty is in fact not exclusively for or limited to military criminals, but includes them, and this is the group which will receive attention from the media and rights groups.

The president of the bishops' conference, Alejandro Goic, has defended the appeal in the face of outrage from relatives and human rights group, demanding, "Do they want us to call for hate?" (La Tercera).

Sigh... I don't know. I accept that my position on organised religion in general and the Roman Catholic leadership in particular is not unbiased, to put it mildly, but it still gets to me: how do they manage to be on the wrong side every single time?! Where are they with their demands for justice for the victims? Why do they insist on confusing justice with "hate" or revenge? It just seems like a wilful attempt to misrepresent the struggle of the victims' families, to be honest. Please, go ahead and forgive the torturers, if you want - give them all the Christian love you like. I just don't see why you have to fight for their freedom when there are innocent people out there waiting for a fair deal from the Chilean judicial system. But honestly - if anyone wants to explain to me how this will assist reconciliation, fire away.

Chilean Church seeks clemency for aging prisoners (AP)
Church call for pardon angers Chile rights groups (Reuters)
Chile bishops seek pardons for military-rule crimes (BBC)
Indulto: Iglesia pide que se estudie caso a caso situacion de condenados por delitos de Derechos Humanos (La Tercera)
Obispo Goic defiende propuesta de indulto: 'Querian que llamaramos al odio?' (La Tercera)

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