At UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva

Muñoz Delegation Meets with UN Refugees Commissioner

[from Workers Vanguard, No. 119, 23 July 1976]

GENEVA, July 16 —An international delegation organized by the Committee to Save Mario Muñoz met today with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Prince Sadruddin Aga Khan of Pakistan. The delegation demanded UN action on behalf of Muñoz, a Chilean miners’ leader forced to flee Pinochet’s terror in Chile only to now find himself again in desperate peril from the Argentine military junta.

The audience with the High Commissioner was obtained as the result of the international attention focused on the campaign to save Muñoz, which has received the support of hundreds of prominent individuals, legislators, left and labor leaders in a dozen countries.

Comprising the delegation were Albrecht Konecny, chairman of the Young Generation of the Socialist Party of Austria, also conveying the support of the Austrian Railroad Workers Union and the International Federation of Transport Workers; Guy Aurenche, representing the International Association of Catholic Jurists; Jacques Vittori, representative of the Brussels-based World Confederation of Labor; Christian Grobet, a member of the Swiss parliament and representative of the Swiss Progressive Jurists’ Association; Joe Heflin of the Society of Friends (Quakers) in France: and Bill Logan, Australian spokesman for the Committee to Save Mario Muñoz. Also present were representatives of the Muñoz Committee from Austria, France, Germany and the U.S. and two of Muñoz’s Chilean comrades. Other trade unions and civil liberties organizations unable to directly participate in the delegation sent telegrams and messages of solidarity urging UN action on Muñoz’s behalf.

The High Commissioner and other UN officials (including Georges Koulischer, head of the UN’s Latin American Section) heard Bill Logan demand that “the United Nations must take responsibility for the life of this Chilean working-class leader who today symbolizes the working masses persecuted by the juntas of South America.” Albrecht Konecny stressed the need for prompt action: “Time is what Mario Muñoz has the least of.”

Citing the July 2 arrest of Muñoz in Mendoza and last month’s mass kidnapping of Chileans from UN refugee sites, following the theft by police or para-police terrorists of lists showing the names and addresses of more than 8,000 refugees, the delegation sought concrete commitments from the High Commissioner concerning Muñoz’s safe departure from Argentina and the securing of visas. The murderous activities of the rightist death squads and the inability of the UN to protect refugees under its mandate heightens the urgency of bringing international pressure to bear on behalf of Muñoz.

The UN officials promised to undertake efforts on Muñoz’s behalf. But each day that Muñoz remains in Argentina, his life is placed in increased peril as the blows of rightist repression rain down on proletarian militants and even liberal bourgeois opponents of the reactionary Videla junta. Only continued international protest and pressure in solidarity with Muñoz and all the victims of rightist terror will save the lives of this Chilean workers’ leader and his family.

Posted: 17 January 2006