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Don't whitewash a dark history

Dear Editor: To go or not to go . . .

Dear Editor:

To go or not to go . . . The arrival of the Chilean training vessel Esmeralda has given rise to some controversy: whether to forget the past and celebrate the arrival of a beautiful, historic sailing ship with its young crew or to refuse to visit it in protest (Torture Ship Visit Ignites Protest, North Shore News, Aug. 3).

Historic. That's where the problem begins. Can we truly forget the history when, for many people, that history includes the indelible pain of the imprisonment, torture and murder of friends, family, loved ones - approximately 150 men and women - some of whom never returned?

Is it possible even for us, not closely involved, to ignore the dehumanization that occurred there - of the victims, but also of the torturers? Can we pretend that those inflicting the torture could be considered normal people?

If it were here and now, would we want justice, or would we just let it go? We expect our justice system never to give up the search for the criminals who harm us. Can we expect less for the victims of those terrible days of violence in Chile in 1973? If we do not object, can we hope that there will ever be the peace and justice in the world we say we desire?

If we stand by, we become complicit in such acts. Although my first impulse was to go and admire the craftsmanship of the vessel, to enjoy the enthusiasm of the students, my conscience says: "No," in no uncertain terms.

If we accept dissimulation and impunity, it will never be possible to move on.

Victoria Bakich, North Vancouver

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