By J. Power (Auth.)
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Extra info for Amnesty International. The Human Rights Story
Prisoners of conscience in the German Democratic Republic have the opportunity of emigrating to West Germany once they have served their sentences. This is because of a special scheme operated by the two governments. T h e children of the prisoners are usually allowed to leave too, to follow their parents, but often only after months of anxious waiting. In a few cases—Amnesty has evidence o f t e n children—the authorities refused to allow their children to leave. T h e children were placed in state homes or with foster families.
Townspeople have told Amnesty that mass graves were dug two days before the killings. In January 1980 a g r o u p of Indians occupied the Spanish Embassy to protest against this and other abuses carried out by the army in El Quiche province. T h e g o v e r n m e n t , outraged by the protest, ordered the army to attack the embassy. O n e peasant, Gregorio Yuja Xona, and the Spanish ambassador were the only survivors. Yuja X o n a was held under police guard in a hospital, then without explanation, the police allowed him to be removed.
Man for several hundred thousand years existed without using torture; only in the last few thousand has it become a weapon of state. According to E g o n Larsen's special study, the great R o m a n and Greek civilizations have left detailed records of their use of torture. Both of them prohibited torture for a citizen, but allowed it to be practiced on others. In ancient Athens a slave's testimony was n o t considered reliable unless he had been tortured. The Christian Church, repelled by the torture of Christians in the hands of Rome, for a thousand years used its great strength in E u r o p e to abolish torture, which until the time of Pope Innocent IV in the thirteenth century was practically u n k n o w n in the Western world.