April 30, 2008
Wall Street Journal
Dear Mr. Lemmer:
In “Friends of Terror in Peru,” (April 28) Mary Anastasia O’Grady not only gets the facts wrong, she uncritically parrots the extremist views of those in Peru who have long sought to discredit that country’s human rights NGOs.
The European Parliament (EP) did not vote to take the Tupac Amaru Revolutionary Movement (MRTA) off its list of terrorist organizations. The MRTA was not on the European list – not because it did not commit acts of terror, but because it is no longer operating. Precisely this point was made by the Peruvian human rights group APRODEH in its letter replying to an inquiry from European parliamentarians. (For the same reason, the MRTA is no longer on the U.S. State Department’s list of foreign terrorist organizations.)
Ms. O’Grady accuses APRODEH and other Peruvian human rights groups of enabling the activities of terrorist organizations. On the contrary, Peruvian human rights organizations have long denounced both insurgent violence and human rights violations committed by the Peruvian state. In its letter, APRODEH clearly repudiates terrorist violence by both the MRTA and the Shining Path.
Ms. O’Grady’s piece abets the efforts of Peruvian politicians and officials intent on attacking the credibility of human rights organizations – precisely because they are playing a key role in bringing human rights violators to justice in Peru – and on creating a climate of fear to facilitate government intimidation and repression of legitimate popular protest and political activity.
Indeed, the torrent of harsh rhetoric attacking APRODEH, amplified by Ms. O’Grady, is but the latest chapter of an ongoing campaign by the Peruvian government and allies of former dictator Alberto Fujimori (now on trial in Peru) to undermine the courageous efforts by human rights groups to hold the powerful accountable for their actions.
Associate Professor of Political Science
Washington Office on Latin America
George Mason University