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December 10, 1982 - Image 15

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1982-12-10

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The Michigan Daily-Friday, December 10, 1982-Page 15
Argentina man's struggle for freedom

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP)-
On the day in October 1975 that he
registered for the draft, Gustavo
Westerkamp, then a 22-year-old
economics student at the University of
Buenos Aires, was arrested by plain-
clothes police. He was jailed, never
charged with a crime, and still is in
Westerkamp, described by his paren-
ts as a socialist, is one of about 400
people still in prison in Argentina at the
disposition of the government under
emergency powers provided in a state
of siege imposed in 1974.
THE IMPRISONMENTS illustrate the
power the executive branch, now a
military government, has over the
Argentine judiciary.
Some of the 400 have been cleared by
the courts of any wrong-doing; others
convicted by the courts or military
tribunals have completed the terms of
their sentences.
But all still remain in prison.
WESTERKAMP'S case has turned
his parents into . human-rights
His father, Jose, a renowned
physicist and former fellow of the
National Research Council, lost his
university post and fellowship after
taking legal action on his son's behalf.
His mother, Angela, a retired
chemistry professor, says her activism
helps her bear the thought of Gustavo's
wasted prime.
PRESIDENT, Reynaldo Bignone, the
retired army general who took office
July 1 and promised a return to civilian
role by March 1984, has reiterated the
six-year-old military regime's position
that the prisoners are part of the toll
from the battle against leftist subver-
sion here in the mid 1970s.
The "casualties" include 6,000 to
15,000 people said by various sources to
have "disappeared"-most of them af-
ter being detained by security forces.
By 1977, nearly 9,000 others were im-
prisoned under the emergency powers.
Bignone told the English-language
newspaper Buenos Aires Herald, the
country's most outspoken newspaper
on human rights, that he agreed "in

principle" that those held without
charge should be formally accused or
freed. But he made no commitment to
do so and reiterated contentions by his
military predecessors that "the time is
not right" for lifting the state of siege,
which voids most constitutional
UNDER THE civilian regime of
President Isabel Peron in early 1976, a
federal judge ruled, in accordance with
Article 23 of the constitution providing
the emergency powers, that Bustavo
must be given the option of leaving the
country. But there was a delay in
signing the order and the armed forces
ousted Peron and took over the gover-
nment in March of that year.
Jose Westerkamp has submitted five
writs to the executive branch
petitioning for his son's release. All
have been rejected. He has also pur-
sued judicial channels to have the
original judge's release order carried
"Our appeals get endlessly post-
poned," Westerkamp said in an inter-
view with The Associated Press. "And
justice that is not rapid is not justice."
The Westerkamps, who sit on the
boards of two local rights groups spoke
about their struggle over tea in their
modest Buenos Aires apartment.
"FROM THE beginning, you always
think they're going to let him out next
week or next month,' Mrs.
Westerkamp said. "If I'd known in 1975
that my son was going to spend the next
seven years in jail, suffering tortures
and privations, I think I would have
killed myself."
Gustavo has told his parents that, tor-
ture, with electric shocks, beatings, and
exposure to the elements, was routinely
practiced on the detainees. Such repor-
ts were confirmed by a panel of the
Organization of American States that
visited Argentina in 1979, though con-
ditions reportedly have improved con-
siderably in recent years.
"I have had periods of deep
depression, insomnia," Mrs. Wester-
damp continued. "I've resorted to
sleeping pills and yoga to get through
months that seemed endless. But I've

developed a personal defense
technique, which is to pull down the
curtain, to try not to think about
Gustavo in jail and dedicate myself to
doing everything I can for him and the
Mrs. Westerkamp said she was
enraged earlier this year when she
received a letter from her son saying
the federal judge of Rawson, the
southern city where Gustavo and about
half the detainees are held, told him to
advise his father to quit his activism,
that it was prolonging Gustavo's cap-

SHE TRAVELED to Rawson and
went to see the judge, Omar Garzono.
"I asked him, 'Do you dare tell me
you believe my husband's work on
behalf of human rights is keeping my
son in jail?' And he answered 'Yes,
ma'am, frankly I do.'"
She said she was aghast and asked
Garzono by what right one person could
be imprisoned because of the actions of
"His only response was that it is a
military government and the rules do
not apply," said Mrs. Westerkamp.

-AP Photo
Gov. William Milliken asserts yesterday that he, not Gov.-elect James Blan-
chard, has the authority to fill the vacant seats on the state's highest court.
Gov. names Brickley
to Supreme Court

LANSING (UPI)- Gov. William
Milliken announced yesterday the ap-
ntments of Lt. Gov. James Brickley
nd state Court of Appeals Judge
Dorothy Comstock Riley to the
Michigan Supreme Court.
'Brickley was appointed to succeed
the retiring Justice Mary Coleman,
while Riley was named to replace the
late Justice Blair Moody, Jr. in a move
that appeared to put Milliken at odds
with Gov.-elect James Blanchard.
THE ACTION which comes less than
a month before Milliken's retirement as
overnor, rewards Brickley for eight
bars of loyal service in the No. 2 spot.
In announcing her retirement,
Coleman, a Republican, said she set the
Dec. 24 effective date to enable Milliken
to name her successor.
-Blanchard was insisting as recently
as yesterday morning that he had the

right to name a replacement for
Moody, a fellow Democrat who died
unexpectedly on Thanksgiving Day.
MOODY HAD just won re-election to
an eight-year term beginning Jan. 1.
Milliken, However, said his research
convinced him he has "not only the
authority but alsothealegal obligation"
to name a successor to serve until Jan.
1, 1985.
Milliken's appointments, not subject
to Senate confirmation, will put the
high court's partisan balance at three
Democrats, three Republicans and one
independent next year. The Democrats
would have had at least four members
on the seven-member court had Moody
The appointment of Riley-an unsuc-
cessful Republican candidate for the
high court this fall-keeps a woman on
the high court.

STUDENT ACCOUNTS: Your attention is called to
the following rules passed by the Regents at their meeting on February 28,
1936: "Students shall pay all accounts due the University not later than the last
day of classes of each semester or summer session. Student loans which are
not paid or renewed are subject to this regulation; however, student loans not
yet due are exempt. Any unpaid accounts at the close of business on the last
day of classes will be reported to the Cashier of the University and
"(a) All academic credits will be withheld, the grades for the semester or
summer session just completed will not be released, and no transcripts of
credits will be issues.
"(b) All students owing such accounts will not be allowed to register in
any subsequent semester or summer session until payment has been made."


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