Letter: Pinochet parallels

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The Independent Culture
Sir: It may well be "gut-wrenching" and "stomach-churning" for Peter Mandelson to have to now regard General Pinochet as a diplomatically protected Chilean politician, part of his country's democratic system. Yet such a nauseating revision of attitude is just what the government - of which he is part - seems intent on forcing down the throats of the Unionist citizens of Northern Ireland.

Pinochet's crimes include large-scale murder, intimidation and torture; policies well known and used by the IRA's northern brigades these past 30 years. The disappearance of relatives and their disposal in unknown ways or graves is not solely a Chilean experience, as campaigning groups in Ulster could tell you. Whereas we are told that Adams, McGuinness et al have turned the corner to democracy, we know that in Chile Pinochet has handed over power to a democratically elected government. If Pinochet's amnesty sticks in the throat then how much more the early releases, amid triumphalism, of terrorist prisoners in Ulster?

If this incident tells this Seventies student one thing about his radical left-wing contemporaries it is that their capacity for double standards is undiminished with the passage of 25 years.


Sharnbrook, Bedfordshire