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tv   Democracy Now  PBS  January 4, 2016 12:00pm-1:01pm PST

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01/04/16 01/04/16 [captioning made possible by democracy now!] amy: from pacifica, this is democracy now! >> he is very important to us. and they knew they were taking a very strong stance by killing someone, as well as some one who is an absolutely nothing wrong, sending a care message of the people and we are here to say we won't take it. amy: protest in the middle east after saudi arabia executes nimr baqr al-nimr and 46 others in saudi arabia's largest mass execution in decades. now iran supreme leader threatens divine intervention.
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saudi politicians, rulers and policymakers, have no doubt that divine intervention for this blood. god almighty will not part those who spilled the blood of innocent. amy: we will speak with ali al-ahmed, who was detained at the age of 14. we will speak to toby jones and bill hartung about u.s.-saudi relationship. 20 or's ago this month, lori berenson was sentenced and convicted to 20 years in jail for helping revolutionary movement in peru. today she is back home in the united states and free. >> i cannot deny my life. my life is what it was or what it is -- yes, there are things when i reflect upon what happened and say, you know, that
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is part of the reason why i take responsibility for my actions and i apologize because it is like i do acknowledge whether or not i am directly responsible horrific bloodshed in peru and i'm very sorry it happened. amy: we speak with once imprisoned u.s. activist lori berenson in her first extensive interview since returning home. all that and more, coming up. welcome to democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. protests are erupting across the middle east after saudi arabia executed prominent shia religious leader nimr baqr al-nimr -- along with 4 others -- on saturday, in the country's largest mass execution in decades. the saudi government accused sheikh nimr of calling for the overthrow of the saudi royal family. after his execution saturday, protesters in the iranian capital tehran responded by torching part of the saudi embassy. on sunday, saudi foreign
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minister adel al-jubeir announced saudi arabia was severing ties with iran. ofthe kingdom, in light these realities, announces the cutting of diplomatic relations with iran and requests the departure of delegates of diplomatic missions of the embassy and consulate and others related to it within 48 hours. the ambassador has been summoned to notify them. bahrain has also said it will sever ties with iran. both bahrain and saudi arabia and close u.s. allies. we'll have more on the story after headlines. armed right-wing militiamen have taken over a federal wildlife refuge headquarters in oregon and about to remain in place. the occupation began after a protest saturday in support of two ranchers sentenced to prison for setting fires that burned federal land. after the protest, armed antigovernment militia members took over the headquarters of
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the malheur national wildlife refuge, which was unoccupied because of the holidays. the apparent leader is ammon bundy, the son of nevada rancher cliven bundy, who refused to pay decades worth of cattle grazing fees, prompting a standoff with federal rangers last year, during which an armed militia rallied to his support. cliven bundy declared victory last after the federal april government backed down and released cattle they had seized from him. speaking over the weekend in oregon ammon bundy said he wants , federal land turned over to rangers in harney county. >> it is the people's facility, .wned by the people and it has been provided for us to be able to come together and unite in making a hard stand this overreach, this taking of the people's land and resources. amy: in phone interviews with the oregonian newspaper, ammon bundy's brother, ryan bundy,
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said the militants are not seeking to hurt anyone, but would not rule out violence if authorities move in. law enforcement have so far not approached the occupied building. meanwhile, the oregon ranchers at the center of the dispute have distanced themselves from the bundys. an attorney for dwight hammond, jr., and his son steven said neither ammon bundy nor anyone within his group/organization speaks for the hammond family. media coverage described the armed militia members as peaceful protesters has sparked ire. the associated press ran the initial headline, "peaceful protest followed by oregon wildlife refuge action. they later removed the word "peaceful." meanwhile cnn law enforcement , analyst art broderick said the militants were being treated differently than black lives matter protesters because "they're not looting anything." roderick made the remarks in an interview with cnn host brian stelter. >> you know, it is going to become politicized and we're already heard from activists online, many of them have been saying if these were black lives
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matter protesters or if these were peaceful muslim americans, they would be treated very different by law enforcement. do you think there's truth to that argument? >> where not talking -- i think you mentioned in the opening, this is a very rural area out in the mill of nowhere. what are the actually doing? they're not destroying property. amy: on social media, media call for the authorities immediate to label the militants as terrorists. critics have used the satirical hashtags "yallqaeda" and "vanillaisis" to call attention to what they see as deferential treatment afforded to the militia members because they are white. the saudi-led coalition in yemen destroyed a gas station and house in a series of airstrikes on the capital sanaa. the u.s.-backed coalition has announced an end to the ceasefire declared earlier this month. nearly 6000 people have been killed since the saudi-led coalition began bombing yemen in march, about half of them civilians.
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a siege by gunman on an indian air base near the pakistani border has entered a third day. at least seven indian soldiers and five attackers have been killed in the standoff near the pakistani border. officials have blamed the attack on pakistani militants, shaking hopes for peace talks between india and pakistan. the obama administration has reportedly shut down its drone operation base in southern ethiopia. an embassy spokesperson told the associated press the base, used to conduct attacks in somlia, was no longer necessary. the united states has never publicly confirmed the base's existence. president obama is meeting with attorney general loretta lynch today to discuss possible executive action on gun control. obama announced the meeting in his weekly address citing , inaction by congress. >> a few months ago i directed my team at the white house to look in the any new actions i can take to help reduce gun violence. on monday, i will meet with our attorney general loretta lynch to discuss our options because i get too many letters from parents and teachers and kids to
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sit around and do nothing. amy: president obama's steps comes as a new open-carry gun law has gone into effect in texas. the law allows licensed handgun owners to wear a holstered gun in public. in israel authorities have filed , murder charges against two israeli citizens over an arson attack that killed a palestinian toddler and his parents in the occupied west bank in july. the suspects are 21-year-old, amiram ben-uliel, who was raised in an israeli settlement in the west bank, and an unnamed minor. israeli authorities have been criticized for taking months to charge anyone for the attacks. meanwhile israel has launched a , security crackdown in arab areas after an israeli arab allegedly opened fire outside a bar in tel aviv friday, killing two people. in mexico, the mayor of the city of temixco has been killed one day after taking office. gisela mota was a member of the leftist party of the democratic revolution, or prd, which has been targeted by political assassinations in the past.
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mota was beaten and shot to death at her home saturday. police said they killed two suspects and detained three others. the obama administration has begun conducting raids and detaining families across the united states as part of an effort to deport hundreds of central americans who have fled violence in their home countries. at least 11 families have reportedly been detained so far. at one home in georgia, a honduran woman and her 9-year-old son were taken into custody after an early-morning raid. the woman, ana lizet mejia, reportedly fled honduras after her brother was murdered by gangs. her aunt, joanna gutierrez, told the "los angeles times" mejia wore an ankle monitor and attended all of her court dates. gutierrez said the children were shaking with fear after agents woke them and searched the house. missouri governor jay nixon has requested a federal emergency declaration after massive flooding caused by heavy rains. the floodings killed at least 25 people in missouri and illinois. governor nixon said he had never seen flooding like it before.
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collects when you see the levels -- when you're coming over his store kinds, from the beginning of time we kept records by four and five feet, i'm in, when you're seeing 55, when you're seeing a house that floated -- a full house that is blowing up floating down the bridge come it is a must as if you are living on some other planet. amy: an al qaeda affiliate in somalia has released a recruitment video featuring republican presidential frontrunner donald trump. the video from the militant group al shabaab highlights discrimination against muslims in the united states, including trump's call for a "total and complete" ban on muslims entering the united states. speaking saturday in mississippi, trump blamed president obama and democratic presidential hillary clinton for creating the self-proclaimed islamic state. clicks they've created isis. hillary clinton created isis with obama. created with obama. amy: democratic presidential candidate and vermont senator bernie sanders faced down a trump supporter who interrupted his speech in amherst, massachusetts over the weekend.
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, the protester held reading, "obama is a christian like bruce jenner is a woman," a reference to transgender celebrity caitlyn jenner. sanders addressed the protester. >> here is a trump supporter worried about mr. trump's money. i say to mr. trump and his supporters that the billionaires of this country will not continue to own this nation. amy: the sanders campaign says it raised $33 million in the first quarter of 2015, much of it in small donations. that's just $4 million shy of democratic rival hillary clinton. sanders' donors made more than 2.5 million individual contributions, shattering the previous record up to .2 million seven president obama. the uptick in islamophobic incidents continues in the wake of the paris and san bernardino attacks. here in the united states, police in titusville, florida are searching for a vandal who smashed the cameras, lights and windows of a mosque using a machete, then left bacon by the
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front door. pork is considered forbidden or "haram" in islam. meanwhile in london, police are investigating after a man allegedly made islamophobic comments to a woman on a bus, then advanced toward her as if to hit her. later, a man matching the same description allegedly spat at a woman after making islamophobic remarks. new data shows hate crimes against muslims in london have doubled in the last two years. in chicago, a prosecutor has asked the fbi to investigate the fatal shooting of an african-american college student and a grandmother last weekend. the student, quintonio legrier, was fatally shot after his father called 911 to report his son was acting strangely and carrying a metal bat. police acknowledged they shot 55-year-old bettie jones by mistake. meanwhile chicago mayor rahm , emanuel's administration has released thousands of pages of emails revealing its year-long effort to contain the fallout from the shooting of laquan mcdonald last october. mcdonald was shot 16 times.
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police dashboard camera video released only last month after a court order contradicts police accounts of the killing. at a protest thursday, demonstrators, including 16-year-old lamon reccord, continued their call for mayor emanuel to resign. it takes a 16-year-old get up here and talk about the mayor chicago, we have a problem. we have a huge problem. we can't get money funding our public schools. our young people don't have resources. it doesn't make any sense that 16icers shoot a 17-year-old times. it makes no sense. what if that was your son that got shot 16 times? you would take that uniform off income on our side and face situations like we do. amy: a quick correction, the sanders campaign says it raised $33 million in the last quarter of 2015. and those are some of the headlines. this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and
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peace report. i'm amy goodman. protests have erupted across the middle east after saudi arabia executed prominent shia religious leader nimr baqr al-nimr -- along with 46 others -- on saturday, in the country's largest mass execution in decades. the saudi government accused sheikh nimr of calling for the overthrow of the saudi royal family. he had been arrested multiple times, including in 2012 after he was involved in protests after the arab spring uprising. al-nimr had also called for the secession of saudi arabia's oil-rich eastern province, where the majority of the sunni kingdom's shia population live. after his execution saturday, protesters in the iranian capital tehran responded by torching part of the saudi embassy. on sunday, saudi arabia responded by severing ties with iran. this is saudi foreign minister adel al-jubeir. >> the kingdom, and light of the israelis, announces the cutting of diplomatic relations with
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iran and requests the departure of delegates, diplomatic missions, the embassy and related toand others it within 48-hour's. the ambassador has been summoned to notify them. we are determined not to allow iran to undermine our security. we're determined not to let you mobilize or create or establish terrorist cells in our country or in the countries are allies. amy: saudi arabia has now recalled its diplomats from tehran, and given iranian diplomats 48 hours to leave the country. this is iranian supreme leader ayatollah ali khamenei. >> killing a knowledgeable man who promoted virtue prevented -- and had religious zeal is certainly a crime, a great crime. it is also a mistake because
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this build blood will undoubtedly bring divine retribution. amy: saudi arabia's execution also led to protests in iraq, bahrain, and several other countries. bahrain now says it too is severing diplomatic ties with iran. earlier today, two sunni mosques about miles south of iraqi 50 capital, baghdad, were rocked by bomb blasts thought to be retaliation against al-nimr's execution. meanwhile, the u.s. has called for dialogue. analysts are watching closely to see how this will impact regional tensions. saudi arabia and iran back opposing groups in syria and iraq, and are on opposite sides of the conflict in yemen. for more, we turn to ali al-ahmed, founder and director
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the of the institute for gulf affairs. one of saudi arabia's youngest political prisoners. welcome to democracy now! can you talk about the significance of first what took place on saturday, one of the largest mass executions in saudi history, and the significance of sheikh nimr? >> good morning. it is a pleasure. the execution of sheikh nimr is an important development given the fact this is the first time in saudi history where a shia religious leader has been executed. 50 years ago or so, another leader was sentenced to death but he was not executed because he was a broad. this really creates a division within the country. and the shia communities around the world, religious leaders are
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most revered because they are the leaders of the community. and there chosen by people -- people choose them as their leader. it is a must a democratic process. for the saudi government to recklessly executed and others, including protesters, really is a reckless act that will have repercussions for a long time. i think this will start another chapter in the saudi history, a chapter that i think we will see come to reality in 2016. and it will not indwell for the saudi monarchy. i think we have seen that a different areas where governments who targeted shia religious leaders end up with a mess on their hands from saddam hussein to qaddafi to others who will probably -- probably underestimated the determination bring shia community to
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repercussions to them. and i believe the saudi monarchy committed a huge mistake that is not going to work for them in the short and long-term. amy: you what to memorial service for the victims of the mass execution. can you tell us who nimr baqr al-nimr is, exactly what he represents, how he expressed his opposition to the saudi regime? >> you are absolutely right. , two month ago, nobody knew who he was. he was a religious leader from a small town in the eastern shore of arabia. since his execution, memorial services have been held for him across the united states, across europe, in different parts of the world. sheikh nimr was a friend of mine. i knew him probably 30 years
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ago. i met his family, his father, i visited their home. his brothers, younger brothers our friends. withh nimr's experience the saudi government date back to his grandfather, who was also a fiery cleric who stood in the face of the saudi oppression of the shia minority 50, 60 years ago. tohe inherited this zeal object to this oppression. if you look at his speeches, he expresses strong determination and will. his words are amazing. we will be translating a selection of his words to show you that when he speaks, really, as a free man, he said -- he said, live free on this land or we die. inside of the earth. he says, or we choose not to be rolled, we choose to be free. freedom andof
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dignity -- you much in the secession. he did not call for that. he said our dignity is more important than the geographical borders of saudi arabia. our dignity comes supreme. i think that is correct. the dignity of man, of the human being, is much more important than political unions. and his words really shows you he is a real individual. when mr. obama spoke about the need for muslims to combat violence and extremism, sheikh nimr is a rare example of a person who calls for the people's role in a monarchy that does not allow the individuals. shia or sunni, to have a say. he called for people's power. and that really shows you an example, a shining example of a muslim religious leader who is empowering people and their choices, who defended everyone,
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not only his community, but also he spoke of the sunni oppression. he really creates a new model. he said, we should not support sunnis versus shia, but the oppressed against oppressor, no matter their religion, their sex, and ethnicity. so i really think his words are going to live, and it will create this new way. he was in the country of saudi arabia, which is divided along sectarian lines. he was admired by many sunni admit for his courage in a kingdom of silence, his words really rang strong. and i think you can compare him to many people we admire around the world, including in the u.s., you'll see him standing in the middle -- in the lion's den and speaking. he was create just. he will be remembered for a long time. amy: ali al-ahmed, his nephew
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remains on death row were threatened with execution, who out- what, 17 when he went to protest. and also the palestinian poet. what will happen with them? they were not part of the 47 who were executed, is that right? >> yes, the saudi government is now trying to make these executions -- although the majority of the executed people are sunnis, they're trying to make -- frame this into sunni-shia. it is not. it is an attempt by the saudi monarchy to silence the opposition and label anyone who spoke against them as terrorists. and there is a plan to execute more people. the saudi's spread executions across the country really to spread terrorism -- terror in the heart of the population. the saudi monarchy's fear is the
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population will rise against them. and the best way they think that they can silence his opposition and the aspiration of the of people in this country, for people's power, is to execute people and to dust publicly, by the way, and behead them so the people will not rise. amy: ali al-ahmed we're going to take a break and then will we come back we will be joined by professor toby jones and bill hartung to talk about the was relationship with their very close ally, saudi arabia. stay with us. ♪ [music break]
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amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. as we continue to look at saudi arabia's execution of sheikh couldlong with 46 others, have major repercussions in the region. we're joined in washington, d.c., by ali al-ahmed, the founder and director for big love affairs, one of saudi arabia's youngest political prisoners to attain when he was 14. also joining us from rutgers college for rutgers university new jersey, toby jones, and
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associate professor of history and middle east studies. he is author of "desert kingdom: , how oil and water forged modern saudi arabia." and also with this, bill hartung is the senior adviser to the security assistance monitor. he is also the director of the arms and security project at the center for international policy. hartung's latest book is called, "prophets of war: lockheed martin and the making of the military-industrial complex." i want to bring toby jones into this discussion. talk about the significance of this mass execution, this leading opposition figure in iran as well as 46 others, and what it means for the united states, a close ally of the saudi regime. amy.od morning, thanks. i want to say two things about this very broadly. one is that reading this through the lens of geopolitics and a regional relationship of saudi arabia and iran is critical and it is important, especially as relations sour and things tend to fall out. at this is also about domestic
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politicians in saudi arabia. lastly, saudi arabia announced a new budget in which it forecast a significant budget shortfall as a result of declining oil revenues. when revenues are to follow that at saudi arabia, there is pressure on the social welfare state and saudi arabia anticipates there might be pushed back in opposition within society as ali al-ahmed's adjusted earlier. killing a shiite cleric goes a long way in deflecting attention away from political and economic pressures stop sectarianism as an all-time high and has been over the last decade or so. the saudis are sticking to capitalize symbolically on the killing of nimr baqr al-nimr as a way to buy time to figure out how to negotiate its way through and economic crisis. of course there's also the war in yemen and justifying continued failing project, using sick terrorism as a way to achieve goals. with respect to the latiip and hs figures in, i think the us is
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probably caught a little off guard. nimr baqr al-nimr has been on death row for quite a long time. this raises all caps of questions about timing, why now, why kill nimr baqr al-nimr alongside a bunch of al qaeda terrorists as well as other shiite men who were executed on saturday as well. the u.s. is caught off guard. it has called for calm and dialogue. these are all expressions in domains from the united states. in the u.s. knows the saudis are not interested in dialogue with iran. saudi arabia sees itself as an intense and for our relationship with its neighbors across the gulf. the u.s. also understands it is precisely crisis and escalation of tension between tehran and rihyad the place and a saudi arabia's ways they talk about insecurity, the regional phobias and fears. they frame everything around escalating series of crises. the u.s. understands this very well. the saudi's are masters at
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minute letting that currently which order to keep the americans in a certain gesture teacher physician. -- geostrategic position. amy: bill hartung, if you could talk about the u.s.-saudi arms relationship. in the last year, hasn't the u.s. been involved in the largest arms sales in their history, this to the saudi regime? >> yes, we're seen $50 billion in new arms sales agreements with the saudis, which is a record for any kind of period like that. they're all in behind the saudi military, providing bombs, revealing for war in yemen, u.s. companies training the saudi national guard, which is their security force, we have trained 10,000 saudi military personnel in the last 10 years -- or five years, rather. my believe is if the obama administration wants to show displeasure with this execution, trying to bring an end to the war in yemen and so forth, there
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has to be a distancing from saudi arabia beginning with coming off some of these arms supplies. amy: u.s. weapons manufacturers in their heyday right now, making record profits. >> yes, and this is a huge been to the saudi market. they just announced a major combat ships sail, which will benefit lockheed martin, boeing fighter planes are in the mix, boeing helicopters. general dynamics is keeping a whole tank line open through sales to saudi arabia. there is both the dependency on the u.s. arms sales and also huge financial benefits keeping this gravy train running for them. amy: how saudi arabia is using these weapons in yemen? >> well, there's been a humanitarian catastrophe of the highest order. markets, bombing refugee camps, hospitals. more than 2000 civilian casualties, most from the saudi bombing. basically, the saudis, many
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believe, are engaging in war crimes in yemen. and the us-led just a goal and arms of is facilitating that. amy: ali al-ahmed, what could the u.s. do and how do you assess the u.s. relationship with saudi arabia? >> this is a complex relationship. it is dominated by the saudi ability to buy silence and support. if you look at the reaction a presidential candidates, for example, you don't see any of them speaking out against these executions. it is odd, for example, mr. ben carson would say the saudi government is an ally of us and we should support it, and at the same time the saudi monarchy prevents like people from becoming diplomats or judges because they view blacks as slaves. really, you see a contradiction of what we know as american values, that the saudis have
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been able to buy their way by giving money to a lot of politicians, foundations like the clinton foundation, the carter foundation, and shaping their opinion. unfortunately because in america , theics works on money saudi monarchy has really broken that code and understood how to use it. the united states can do a few things right now. u.s.can, for example, stop taxpayer spending money on protecting the saudi monarchy. princeton as a study that says the united states has been spending over $200 billion the year in military expenditure in the gulf. that is the largest military expenditure abroad. , they're protecting these monarchies. u.s. should not be spending that money. the monarchies can spin their own money defending themselves. secondly, for example, i would urge u.s. government to
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intervene to ensure the saudi monarchy would return the body of sheikh nimr to his family because they refuse to do so after the execution. i think that would be a great example of how the u.s. can use its power to bring some healing to this process. because the middle east might implode, saudi arabia itself might implode because of this. so i think they should take some serious steps. and i met with the state department over the past few weeks, and i told him -- i wrote an article that said, you must take steps now, don't wait until the executions take place because we knew these executions were happening. it is important to prevent any ignition and the region before it happens. amy: d.phil. the state department took your device? >> no, they didn't. amy: toby jones, 30 seconds, why is the u.s. not being more vocal
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in his criticism of saudi arabia? >> the u.s. is stuck. aside from questions of profit, the was is beholden, partly the product of its own making, this is generational commitment to saudi arabia in which for over three decades we have committed ourselves -- committed ourselves to protecting the flow of energy out of the persian gulf will stop the planet in this one area. the united states has tied its military fortunes of many ways to pocketbooks of its gunmakers as well as the pentagon to what comes in a goes out of the persian gulf. if you think about it critically, that is what needs to change. it is also the hardest thing to reengineer, this breaking away not only from oil dependency, but from the massive financial and military investment the u.s. has made in the region. the bottom line is, it is not stabilizing, but destabilizing. amy: we have to leave it there, professor toby jones, arms expert bill hartung, and ali al-ahmed, thank you for joining us. when we come back, and exclusive
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extended interview with the jailed american activist just recently back from peru after 20 years, lori berenson. ♪ [music break] amy: this is democracy now!, democracynow.org, the war and peace report. i'm amy goodman. we end today's show with lori berenson who has returned home from peru after nearly two decades. to become anol activist in the 1980's in el salvador after the -- they moved on to peru. in 1996, convicted of helping the túpac amaru revolutionary movement.
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berenson was tried by a hooded military judge, and prosecutors used secret evidence against her. for three years, she was held in the frigid yanamayo prison in the andes mountains in an unheated, open-air cell without running water. after a major outcry, she was transferred to the warmer socabaya prison, but she was held in complete isolation there . interviewfirst to lori in prison when she was there in 1999 and now the first to have an extended interview with her when she came home. i spoke to her last week and asked how it feels to be free. >> it feels wonderful to be here. i've been on parole for many years which is similar to being free, but it is nice to be completely free. amy: and to be back home in the united states for good. >> it is nice to see family and friends and have the possibility -- amy: what brought a young woman who was a freshman at m.i.t. first two salvador and into peru? >> i decided i was not in agreement with the type of
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academia work -- you can get a degree and then become part of the system, and then i thought becoming part of the system somehow -- people are able to use that and do well to the benefit of social justice, but others tend to be absorbed by the system and i did not want to be absorbed by the system. i also had a very different -- at the time, i started seeing the world had a lot less to do with what you learn in school than what you learn in life, and the meaning of degrees shouldn't be that. in part, it was my way of saying, i don't believe in this type of system. i wanted to support processes that sought to change -- this is when the u.s. was supporting death squads and supporting, you know, sending millions of dollars in military aid to bomb silly populations in el salvador. that was the context in which i decided to get involved. a very different context when --
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the when i went to peru but it made the case of the fundamental reason that brought me to that region, how my government that talks about democracy, could be doing this. amy: so you went to peru. how soon after you were in peru you were arrested? >> a year later. amy: explain what themrta was. >> an organization that basically followed the example in the 1960's, peru and the rest of the continent, national liberation struggles, different leftist organizations that were return to democracy in the late 1970's and early 1980's and they formed an alternative guerrilla movement to what is better known as a shining cap, which emerged publicly in 1980. it was a smaller organization, similar to the organizations i am more familiar with in central america and when i got to peru,
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i understood in the case of the -- nois an organization armed activities going on. it was also an organization is in to be looking for a way out. amy: it was deemed a terrorist organization by? peru >> everything was called terrorism. yes, it was. amy: and by the united states? >> at the time, i presume so. the terrorist list came out i believe in 1998, if i'm not mistaken, but at the time of my arrival, it was not on any formal list. amy: what was it about the mr ta you're drawn to that got you involved? >> similar to the organizations i've been familiar with in central america, but more than that, it was my sense that they were in a very difficult situation, a lot of people in prison, and there were looking for a way out. amy: what do you mean, a way out? >> in el salvador, it was a peace process. in other countries, and
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guatemala it was a peace process, that there are moments in which you say, ok, so how do we resolve the situation? dictatorship. what you do, and autocratic government that was not at all democratic. so it wasn't as if you could say, hey, we want to lay down our weapons and gives our selves in. i think there were looking for that in some extent, but i did not realize central after the embassy takeover that that is how they were planning to find a way out. it was when they took over the embassy. one of the things i talked about was national dialogue. i see it in retrospect, i think that was the way out they were looking at. amy: explain the government at the time. >> in 1990 -- well, winning the applies in 1990, and shock program -- applies a lot of dirty war tactics.
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a lot of intelligence use to carry out appearances in a very selected appearance, but talking about thousands of people were killed. coupn 1992, he has a self where he closes congress, closes restrictions -- a series of -- you know, lack of rights to protest. i knew. is the peru by the time i had gotten there, they had open what they called -- some form of congress. whatever he invented, and there were elections, however, it was still within the framework within the constitution -- it was neoliberalism. it was not exactly democracy. amy: let's go back to november 30, 1995. there are many people were watching right now who were not
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even born then. so talk about what happened, why you were arrested and what happened to you. >> well, on that day, and at that time, i was doing some work as a journalist and i had gone to congress. i was following a series of debates, a very important debate on narco houses or something. i was walking down the street, took a bus, and i was pulled off the bus and shoved into a car. amy: by? uniformed policeman. i was taken to a large office, which i later learned was intelligence police officer. from there i was taken to the house which i helped rent a time earlier, then a shootout started. i was there all night during the shootout. i was in a police car. amy: the police held you in the car as a shootout took place between the police and the mrta
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at the house you helped rent? >> yes. after that, i was detained, tried by a footed military tribunal, very limited access to legal protection. lawyers were allowed in, they did not have access to the files . statements were made under declareome of forced to difficult state. it was a difficult situation for all those who were detained at the time, about 20 some odd people at that time, and then i was sentenced to life in prison as a leader of the mrta, which basically, the figure to be tried by military tribunal was if you weren't detained in combat, then you had -- she had to be a leader, so they decided to comment a leader. and he thought we were brought out to the press. >> yes. amy: is this the image peruvians have of you and the rest of the
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world for the next decades. explain what you're told is your brought out to the press. if i wanted to be heard, i had to raise my voice, there is no microphone. i guess of the time i didn't think of the consequences. i think of either the same thing without looking angry saying it, they would not of been able to use it. but the use of images tashfeen you take -- you can always catch an image with someone who has the mouth open. having the mouth open is enough regardless of even if i spoke silently or quietly, if i had my mouth open, that would've been enough. and they were able to use that image until now. amy: and you're told you had a very small amount of time, like a minute to say whatever you needed to say. >> i believe so, i don't remember exactly. amy: what did you say? and you were speaking spanish, of course. amy: terroristif a
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organization existed it was because there was a lot of injustice in the country. and saying, basically, if i was going to have to pay for that, i would, and that is what i did. amy: you were tried. explain what this courtroom was like. what does it mean to be tried before a hooded judge? >> i don't know if ours was similar -- i know of other cases that were rather different, but it was basically a three-phase trial. the first phase was you were interrogated by the police. at some point, the military started intervening -- it was difficult to tell which was the difference at the time. these are things that might have seemed different levi had known more. after the first phase, we were sentenced, put in a room with included judges and surrounded by soldiers. we were given sentences. we were given i believe two appeal trials in these rooms
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with distorted -- i think one was in front of a judge, but they tended to use these rooms with distorted sound. you would be looking in a mirror , sort of unusual to have distorted sound and images. i think they filmed. by the third sentence, they confirmed the life sentence. they changed some of the charges along the way, if i'm not mistaken. but it was all preposterous. it was based on -- i'm not sure what, a lot of imagination. amy: and what did they charge you with and what re-convicted of? >> treason. i don't really remember -- was first convicted of being a litter -- leader of the mrta, so remember thely charges but it was a laundry list. they make a i want to go back to a time interviewed you in prison. this was back in 1999. did they present any evidence at the trial? >> no.
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in the actual trial? no. amy: are you innocent of the charges? >> yes. amy: which brings us to the u.s. and what the u.s. is doing for your case. what is the u.s. doing? >> there's been some pressure at certain times, but not heavy pressure. not heavy enough pressure, at least. do you think if they put pressure you wouldn't be here? >> i think in the sense of [indiscernible] military and that kind of support. i think he feels like he is fine. amy: that was 1999. can you explain that time in prison? you have been in prison at that time for like three years. was, if i'm not mistaken the interview was when i was still in isolation, so it was difficult.
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i wasn't allowed to talk to anyone. in that sense, we weren't allowed to access the media or to information. it was very isolating experience. rememberhat i most about socabaya. in prisonhave been and the united states, but you are now in prison for about 15 years. can you talk to an american audience about what that experience meant? >> i think it is important, particularly in the united states but also important in peru, the issue of prisons as a space of justice or as a space of punishment. i think we would have a much healthier society if we used , just soent sparingly that people can learn from imprisonment and become -- have an opportunity to do something else, to learn to become -- have the opportunity to be productive
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citizens. unfortunately in the u.s. in a store, prisons are just disproportionately with people of law -- lower socioeconomic status, race is involved. it is like -- it is social struggle. a lot of kids get into gangs because that is the only option they see, those kids could do other things if they had other options. so prisons could be a space in which that could happen or what usually happens is they just get thrown in and get tortured, get beat up on, and they basically if they're not killed there, they don't really have a chance. when they get out, they don't have a chance. what kind of world we live in and which we exclude people instead of trying to find ways to include them? so that happens. it happens here, happened in peru. amy: the ambassador to peru at the time was quoted, what
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leveraged we have over peru? i think this is a colonial, somewhat racist mentality that these countries are always wrong and all we have to do is apply pressure on any underdeveloped country. he said, there is no way anyone can look at her story, referring to you, and conclude anything other than she knowingly, willingly, and enthusiastically worked for a terrorist organization. that from just last week. the ambassador at the time of your arrest peru in. your response? know, he as been very consistent in his responses on this. i do not agree with them. i do not think there was overwhelming proof of anything that he says but, look, that is his political position. it was not the position -- not everyone was patting him on the back. he was. not all of the ambassadors in peru were doing that. be firedlso demanded i for having interviewed you in the prison. your evaluation of amnesty
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international saying something like 53% of the violence in the 1980's could be attributed to the peruvian government. 46% of the killing to shining path, 1% to the mrta. >> the truth commission came up . i thinklar statistics it is really hard because first of all, i think the trade commission was developed as to start a process of memory and not to be the only thing that would come out and it is like, we close the book. their conclusion was the shining path had committed 54%, something like 35% of the state but ita bit higher, could be, i don't know. i do think that if -- the problems with understanding what happens come also depends on how and when you ask it. if you go to the community in which the military is still there, it is highly probable they will not say the military did it. so those types of things i think will always be a problem when --king for truth will stop
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truth. horrific things have happened in peru and i take responsibility for having collaborated with an organization that has committed crimes. i think that is -- that is why i was in prison, so, yes, it was secondary collaboration, i wasn't involved in any specific act, but i do take my responsibility and i think -- at least in the case of the mrta -- the leadership has taken responsibility for their act. it is necessary. that is -- like i said, it is unfortunate that it is not happening on all sides. amy: i want to play a clip of your mother and your father. we are asking everyone to remind president bush what he said in march and reminded me is under an obligation is a u.s. citizen is wrongfully held in another country, as the u.s. statute that says he must do everything in his power to release her and the commission as a stencil he said lori berenson is wrongfully
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held. >> and this consists of seven respected international legal scholars and human rights scholars to seven different countries. president bush, lori is wrongfully held. it is time to show backbone and strength and have the moral courage to do the right thing. if the ambassador said a week ago that america takes care of its own, lori berenson is one of your own. she has suffered. she has been wronged. you know it, secretary how does it. every person in this country of goodwill and understanding knows lori berenson has been wrong and it is time -- wrong and it is time to bring her home. amy: what did that mean to you, the way your parents rallied around not only you, but rallied support in the united states, -- around yourur imprisonment, but for the condition of people in peru? -- iwas very surprised
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don't come from a very political family. i did not expect their dedication, to some extent, i felt very badly for it. i still do too good extent. i am very grateful for it. they have been an amazing -- an amazing effort, despite the fact we didn't have great communication. i think was very difficult the first years that they didn't have access to a lot of information and did know what was happening. some of the confusion of perhaps the way they interpreted things has to do with a lack of communication. despite that, they did an amazing thing. amy: it is 20 years later. ,ou have been in peru basically, i don't know if you call it under house arrest, but you were not allowed to leave peru from 2010 until now. and now you're just allowed to leave. would you do things the same way if we went back 20 years, if you knew what you know now? >> yes and no.
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and i go back to thinking about education, if i had learned other skills, and might've been able to do some of the work -- maybe different types of work directly with populations that would've made my light very different. in that sense, i would have chosen to learn a little more before going to do things. learn a skill that would've been more useful to that in terms of doing it, i can't deny my life. my life is what it was or what it is, and i mean, yes, there are things what i reflect upon what happened and that is part of the reason why take responsibility for my actions and i apologize. i do acknowledge that whether or not i am directly responsible for certain actions, there was horrific bloodshed in peru and i'm very sorry that it happened. in that sense, understanding how if i'd known it was going to come and symbolize that, i might have thought twice before speaking because it is hard to
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symbolize horror, but on the other hand, it is like the objectives -- surly my own objectives and others was not to create bloodshed, either. they were to achieve a more just society. said, it is important that those who have been involved on any side take responsibility for what they have done. oftainly come on the side the left, people paid, have been imprisoned for a long time and some are still there whereas in the case of the government forces, they continue to live in total impunity. amy: interestingly, the president of peru is in jail. he used to wave your passport and say -- he would carry it with him. but he ends up in jail. >> that is ironic, yes. amy: let's end with the issue of
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memory, something you're very interested in as you move forward in this country. what does it mean to you and what does acknowledgment and understanding the past -- what do you think has to happen? country, and any this includes the u.s., if we deny that things happened or try to paint it over as if it wasn't that way, then the problems are more likely to recur, or at least continue to be problems. if you start acknowledging them and say, let's get a handle on this, we have to see what the cause -- the root cause of violence in peru, it has to do with structural violence. i mean, regardless of whoever started it, it's not who started first, it is like, why on earth with something with a violence have been so extreme had there not been the type of structural violence that existed in peru? semi-futile many ways and production, but not just production, it has to do the social system of racism, of
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exclusion that existed into the 20th century. that is not unique to peru, but i think what is told, should be told in general in the world, is that it is better -- if you look at things -- sit back and look at them, i think you could do much more than putting labels. we put labels on people you're saying, it is the us/them. and that is dangerous because it makes you think that you're somehow superior to a "them." one of the things that i think that came out in peru, particularly in my case and others, you want the "them" label because in your guilt can transfer to other people and that is not useful. .ou wind up having violence it is not productive. it doesn't lead to anything. , what's in prison u.s. activist after spending nearly two decades in prison and on parole in peru. to see our coverage of loyal ears, go to democracynow.org. democracy now! is looking for feedback from people who appreciate the closed
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