Amnesty International

Macdonald Stainsby mstainsby at
Tue Nov 4 21:06:22 MST 2003


        I suggest a picket be set up here in Vancouver, replete with
        both a time and place for the film and copies of it for sale, at
        To: Amnesty International, others

        Two statements of support of the documentary. See also

        Statement in Support of the Documentary Film "The Revolution
        Will Not Be Televised"

        We write to express our deepest support for public viewings and
        screenings of the award-winning documentary film, モThe
        Revolution Will Not Be Televised.ヤ In light of the recent
        suspension of the filmメs screening at the Amnesty International
        Film Festival to be held at the Pacific Cinematheque in
        Vancouver, British Columbia, from November 6-9, 2003, as a
        result of pressure from opposition groups in Venezuela and their
        international counterparts, we find it essential to declare our
        support for this revealing film, which evidences heinous human
        rights violations carried out during the April 2002 coup dメetat
        in Venezuela.

        モThe Revolution Will Not Be Televisedヤ is an extraordinary
        documentary by Irish filmmakers Kim Bartley and Donnacha Oメ
        Briain, who by happenstance were able to document the events
        surrounding the April 2002 coup dメetat against democratically
        elected President Chavez of Venezuela. The filmmakers were able
        to remain in the presidential palace in Venezuela and document
        while opposition forces violently overtook the government and
        dismantled Venezuelaメs pillar democratic institutions, including
        the National Assembly, the Supreme Court, the Constitution and
        the offices of the Ombudsman and Attorney General. The film
        exposes the atrocious human rights violations committed with the
        purpose of executing the coup successfully, including:

        - The extrajudicial killing of more than 50 people;
        - The torture of pro-government supporters and government
        - The kidnapping and unlawful detention of President Chavez for
        a 48-hour period;
        - The arbitrary arrest and persecution of pro-government
        supporters and officials;
        - The violation of rights to political participation and
        self-determination by unjustly imposing an unelected de facto
        government on citizens;
        - The violation of freedom of expression and public access to
        information by perpetuating a media-led blackout on information
        during the mass protests demanding President Chavezメs return to
        power, and distorting news and manipulating images that were
        used as justification for violence, aggression and the coup itself.

        These crimes violate fundamental rights embodied in the American
        Convention on Human Rights, the Universal Declaration of Human
        Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political
        Rights, the American Declaration on the Rights and Duties of Man
        and the Constitution of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela.
        Amnesty International has documented these atrocities in their
        2003 Annual Report:

        The film is presently being screened at film festivals and
        theaters around the world. It has provided insight into a
        historical event with exclusive footage that reveals details of
        this unconstitutional and undemocratic overthrow of an
        elected-leader that were previously omitted by the international
        mass media. As protectors and defenders of international human
        rights, we strongly believe this film is poignant evidence of
        human rights violations carried out by the coup leaders. By
        allowing the international public to view this documentary
        account of the events of April 2002, the audience is able to
        bear witness to these inexcusable acts and arrive at their own

        We find it unacceptable that Amnesty International, a worldwide
        organization campaigning for internationally recognized human
        rights, would bow down to pressure from groups opposing the film
        メs subject matter and therefore remove it from its upcoming
        festival in British Columbia. Amnesty International has decided
        to eliminate the film from their upcoming festival based on two
        reasons: 1) Amnesty International claims the filmメs subject
        matter does not address human rights issues; and 2) Amnesty
        International believes that screening the film would further
        polarize the Venezuelan people and potentially create more
        violence within Venezuela.

        These reasons are without justification. First of all, the film
        specifically documents the above-mentioned human rights abuses
        as a result of opposition forces carrying out an illegal coup dメ
        etat, dismantling democratic institutions and imposing a
        blackout on information so facts would not be revealed to either
        the Venezuelan people or the international community.
        Additionally, Amnesty International independently selected the
        film as a part of its festival in Canada. Therefore, the
        organization must have believed the filmメs subject matter was in
        line with the festival theme. It was only upon receipt of a
        petition from opposition forces in Venezuela and their
        international counterparts that Amnesty decided to remove the
        film from the festival schedule. Finally, since the film is
        currently showing in theaters around the world, its viewing at a
        festival in Vancouver, Canada would no more affect internal
        Venezuelan politics than any other screening.

        Amnesty International claims to work in pursuit of universal
        protection and recognition of human rights and to maintain an
        independence of any government, political ideology, economic
        interest or religion. Yet, by choosing to remove the film from
        its festival, it is siding with those groups opposing its
        factual content and documentary perspective. Furthermore, we
        view this as an outright case of censorship of this important
        portrayal of historical events central to the theme of human
        rights and believe it is deplorable that an international
        defender of human rights would choose to censor in the face of
        pressure, rather than vehemently protect the paramount right of
        public access to information. By taking this action, Amnesty
        International is perpetuating the blackout on information
        imposed by the coup leaders in Venezuela during April 2002.

        If Amnesty International is truly concerned with the impartial
        protection of human rights, it would follow that screening a
        film that exposes horrific human rights violations would be in
        line with its mission. We therefore urge Amnesty International
        to reconsider its decision to revoke the film, モThe Revolution
        Will Not Be Televisedヤ, from the upcoming festival in Vancouver,
        British Columbia. We also reiterate our profound support for
        this important chronicle of the unjustifiable coup dメetat of
        April 2002 in Venezuela that resulted in innocent lives lost and
        harmed and the deprivation of basic human rights.

        Initial endorsing organizations and individuals:

        - International Womenメs Human Rights Clinic, CUNY Law School,
        New York
        - Venezuela Solidarity Committee in New York
        - Uni￳n Nacional de Trabajadores (UNT)
        - Opci￳n de Izquierda Revolucionaria (OIR)
        - Movimineto 13 de Abril - Proyecto Nuestra Am←rica
        - UTOPIA
        - Juventud de Izquierda Revolucionaria (JIR)
        - Fundaci￳n Cultural Sim￳n Bol■var
        - Coordinadora Sim￳n Bol■var
        - C■rculo Bolivariano Profesor Alberto Lovera (New York)
        - Eva Golinger-Moncada
        - Mart■n S£nchez

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