Algeria's Struggles Toward Peace

In his Oct. 10 letter, Algerian Ambassador Ramtane Lamamra suggests that President Liamine Zeroual is trying "to root out terrorism within the rule of law."

While Amnesty International shares this hope, we feel that the fight against "terrorism" by security forces in Algeria amounts to nothing more than matching terror with terror. And while the government continues to blame brutal killings on armed opposition groups, there is strong evidence that government security forces also are engaging in massacres, or allowing murders and burning of homes with people inside to occur just steps away from their posts.

It is true that most of the crimes are the work of armed opposition groups who define themselves as "Islamic." Victims - men, women, and children - have been killed in gruesome ways in order to spread fear in the population.

These actions, however, cannot justify extrajudicial killings and arbitrary arrests by a government obligated to protect its civilian population.

Algeria has ratified most international human rights treaties and cannot afford to continue disregarding both national and international law. The government has failed to make public investigations it claims to have carried out concerning violations committed by the security forces. Even the Observatoire National des Droits de l'Homme (ONDH), the official Algerian human rights body, has not been able to obtain responses for cases of "disappearances" and abuses of power.

The documented pattern of violations committed by the authorities remains unchanged. The government allows prolonged incommunicado detentions, torture and ill-treatment, unfair trials, prolonged pre-trial detention, "disappearances," and excessive use of lethal force.

We cannot accept the behavior of a government that tortures, kills, censors, and turns a deaf ear to the anguished cries of those under attack. The cornerstone of any democracy is respect for human rights.

Abderrahim Sabir


Amnesty International

Ideology, economics of Cuba and US

Hats off to the Monitor for continued coverage of Cuba that does not simply present the State Department's jaundiced view ("If 'El Che' Came to Cuba Today...," Oct. 10).

As one who does not believe that the ultimate goal of mankind is necessarily global free-market capitalism, I have watched with interest alternative economic models such as the ever-evolving socialist system in Cuba. The solution to Cuba's economic and social problems ultimately will be a Cuban solution.

Decades of US hostility, including a trade embargo, have made life more difficult for the average Cuban. Recently, the House of Representatives introduced the Cuban Humanitarian Trade Act (H.R. 1951), which makes an exception for food and medicines. Perhaps if our country was more open to neighborly relations with this small nation, struggling against all odds to maintain the lofty goals of its revolution, we would all benefit. H.R. 1951 could be a first step.

Judy Robbins

Sedgwick, Maine

Inspired by a Home Forum classic

Thank you for reprising Neil Millar's Home Forum essay "The Wings of Defeat" (Oct. 1). For the 24 years since it appeared, my wife and I have distributed it to friends facing setbacks. We also read it a hundred times ourselves.

I met the article's author shortly after my mother clipped his gem for me. I could not help being moved by his humility and wit, framed by his Aussie accent.

Writing something so compact, so elegant, so potent, so shareable would be a great legacy for any writer, especially a "hobbyist" such as myself. Now that it will be in your e-Monitor Website archive, I hope our tattered, spattered, ribbon-typed version can be upgraded. A Home Forum classic, for sure.

Gordon Imrie

New York

Your letters are welcome. Letters for publication must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Only a selection can be published and none acknowledged. All letters are subject to editing. Letters should be mailed to "Readers Write," One Norway St., Boston, MA 02115, faxed to 617-450-2317, or e-mailed to oped@csps.com

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