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A Tufts doctor who went to Chile last month to investigate the recent arrest and imprisonment of Chilean physicians described her experiences in the South American country yesterday at a press conference at the Faculty Club.
Jane Schaller, professor and chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at Tufts University School of Medicine, sat in on Chilean Supreme Court sessions where physicians were being tried for providing medical care to terrorists.
Schaller also witnessed the Chilean Supreme Court's upholding of the application of the government's antiterrorism law. Established in 1984, the law prevents citizens who aid terrorists from being granted bail or an ultimate pardon if convicted.
During her trip, Schaller visited two of the physicians in jail who were imprisoned under the new statute and are currently unable to communicate with their families and lawyers.
The two physicians and another were imprisoned for giving medical service to a man who came to them with a gunshot wound claiming to be an innocent bystander at the robbery of a bakery.
The Chilean government contends this man is a terrorist, and has arrested the physicians for cooperating with him. They have also tried to link the physicians with the assassination attempt on President Pinochet in September 1986.
The Chilean Medical Association and the Vicarate of Solidarity, the two Chilean organizations who invited Schaller to visit Chile, said the military government was attempting to silence the doctors who have been leading the two organizations for Civil Rights in Chile for the last decade.
"[The government] has accused the Chilean Medical Association of running a clandestine clinic to help terrorists," Schaller said.
She added that she thinks the physicians acted responsibly and ethically and should not have been jailed for treating the gunshot victim.
In a press statement released yesterday, she urged the Chilean Supreme Court to reconsider its decision to imprison the victims indefinitely and called on health professionals everywhere to condemn the use of incommunicado detention and torture by the Chilean government.
Physicians For Human Rights, a national organization made up of physicians and health professionals, was the main sponsor of Schaller's trip.
Schaller said she wants to bring attention to the injustices of the Chilean government. She will make appeals to the U.S. Congress, to the State Department and President Reagan.
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