DEATH THREATS ON A CHRISTMAS CARD

Imagine opening a greetings card during the holiday season and finding not a message from a friend, a member of your family or some half-forgotten acquaintance, but a death threat.

Viviana Diaz Caro and Mireya Garcia of the Chilean human rights group the Association of Relatives of the Detained/Disappeared received the above threat in a Christmas card at their offices in Santiago on 15 December 1999.

The card was sent in the name of the Country and Freedom National Front, a right-wing extremist group active during General Augusto Pinochet's military government, and the publisher was given as 'Villa Grimaldi', a notorious torture centre during the same period.

The threats are the latest in a series received by human rights workers since the arrest of General Pinochet in London in October 1998, none of which have been fully investigated by the authorities.

Amnesty International UK Director Mary Robinson said:

'At a time of year when most of our thoughts turn to family, there are still thousands of people in Chile who cannot be sure whether some of their loved ones are alive or dead.'

'It is astonishing that some of the relatives of the disappeared have had added to their anguish not only death threats, but a failure by the proper authorities to fully investigate these threats against their lives.'

The Relatives of the Detained/Disappeared was set up during military rule in Chile to try and establish the fate of the members' missing loved ones. Viviana Diaz Caro and Mireya Garcia are respectively the organisation's President and Secretary General.

Despite there being over 1000 cases of ' disappearance ' that have been officially recognised in Chile, legal efforts to uncover the truth have been hampered by the 'self-amnesty' law passed by General Pinochet's government in 1978.

View latest press releases