Argentina's military administration, which claims to have made major progress in its campaign against terrorism, has announced a change of status of 389 prisoners held without trial under the national state of siege.
LV: Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires.
SV AND CU: crowds in square, sitting and walking. (4 shots)
GV AND SV EXTERIOR: church of Santa Cruz (2 shots)
CU: poster showing two nuns
GV: Caseros Prison
LV: relatives are admitted into prison.
SV: guard outside prison.
SV: door closes as last relatives admitted.
SV: policeman and women in street (2 shots)
In March 1976 the military, led by Videla, overthrew the ailing government of Juan Peron's widow Maria Peron and established a military junta. At that time it instituted a campaign against terrorism, principally that of the neo-Peronist Montonero group and the Trotskyite `People's Revolutionary Army' (FRP) who have jointly been responsible for thousands of acts of political violence. In November the US Secretary of State Mr Cyrus Vance visited Argentina in November and gave the government a list of 7,500 names of people who have vanished or been arrested since March 1976. The exact number of detainees now held in Argentinean prisons is widely disputed. The government says there are not only 3,006, but the figure is challenged by human rights' groups, One, the Washington based Council on Hemispheric Affairs, a private organisation, alleged in a report issued in December that Argentina's human right record was the worst in Latin America and that there were 18,000 political prisoners at that time. On the same day that Mr Vance visited Buenos Aires, leading officials of the ousted Peron administration urged the government to release political prisoners and pave the way for a return to democracy.
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Background: Argentina's military administration, which claims to have made major progress in its campaign against terrorism, has announced a change of status of 389 prisoners held without trial under the national state of siege. They are no longer at the government's disposition, but it has not indicated whether this means they have been released or are now charged with offenses. Since launching the campaign, President Jorge videla's government has attracted sharp criticism from other nations, including the United States, and human right's organisations for alleged flagrant disregard of rights.
SYNOPSIS: The Government says there are now only 3,000 people held without trial. Human rights' groups claims the total is much higher. They give figures of between 7,000 and 18,000. One fact is not disputed. Many people disappear in Argentina.
The latest disppearence is of two French nuns, Sister Alicia and sister Leonie, who with other people were seized near the church of Santa Cruz in Buenos Aires early in December. The Government says the left-wing Montonero guerrillas have claimed responsibility. They are still missing.
Many believe it was Government forces who fear it is to here-the Caceros Prison in the capital-they might have been taken. France has already protested to the government about the incident.
There has been widespread international criticism at the Government's methods of combating terrorism.
Early last year, the United States cut military aid to Argentina alleging violating of human rights. Defending its polices and methods, the Government says it is the guerrillas who violate human rights-with murder. Since the 1960s, they say, more than 3,000 people have been killed by terrorist acts.