Human Rights First Praises Administration’s Release of Files from Argentina’s Dirty War
Washington, D.C. – Human Rights First today praised the announcement by National Security Advisor Susan Rice that the president will begin the declassification of records from Argentina’s “Dirty War” as he travels to Argentina next week. The announcement came following the urging of Human Rights First in a letter to President Obama calling on him to use his March 23rd visit to Argentina as an opportunity to release the documents pertaining to this bleak time in Argentina’s history. Following Argentina’s 1976 coup, an estimated 30,000 people were killed or “disappeared” by the Argentinian regime.
“Today, the people of Argentina continue to struggle with the legacy of the dictatorship’s widespread and horrific abuses. Many children of murdered victims of the regime who were abducted and raised by military leaders have still not been identified; many perpetrators of atrocities continue to enjoy impunity,” wrote Human Rights First’s President and CEO Elisa Massimino. “The United States is in a unique position to assist the survivors of this brutal period in Argentina’s history by releasing government documents that pertain to it.”
President Obama’s visit to Argentina coincides with the 40th anniversary of the onset of these atrocities. It will also be the first by a U.S. president since 2005, when President Bush’s visit to attend the Summit of the Americas was marked by anti-U.S. protests, and the first U.S. state visit to the country since 1990. In the years since then, Argentina has a new, democratically-elected government that appears eager to work with and develop strong ties to the United States.
Human Rights First notes that declassifying and releasing these documents from the CIA, FBI, and Department of Defense is a strong gesture of support for Argentina’s new government, for its people, and for the cause of human rights around the world. It also sends a clear message that the United States repudiates any past participation in or support or regimes that torture, building on President Obama’s legacy of supporting the release of information about the United States’ past mistakes in using torture and other cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of detainees in the aftermath of the attacks of 9/11.
“To ensure that there is no question about where our country stands on these issues, however, it is important not only to acknowledge violations committed by our government; we must also confront our past complicity in human rights abuses abroad,” added Massimino. “Declassifying U.S. documents will help the people of Argentina understand the scope and consequences of the regime’s abuses, while also helping them acknowledge, mourn, and recover from that troubling and traumatic period.”
Human Rights First has issued a new backgrounder, detailing how declassification of documents related to the “Dirty War” will support key national security interests of the United States and bolster future bilateral relationship with Argentina.