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MIT scholars asked to join protest of El Salvador murders

(Editor's note: The Tech received a copy of this letter addressed to President Gray '54)

Thank you for agreeing to meet with members of the MIT Committee on Central America (COCA) on Friday, February 2, to discuss our petition on El Salvador. COCA is a group of students and staff educating the MIT community about the U. S. interventionist policy in Central America and working to change that policy.

In the aftermath of the November 15 murder of six priests at the University of Central America in San Salvador, we drew up a petition inviting you, as president of MIT, to join us in calling for a suspension of United States aid to the government of El Salvador. As of January 26, this petition has gathered 718 signatures.

We conceived the idea of including you in the petition because the Jesuit priests who were murdered (the rector of the university and five professors) were academics, our colleagues. Since many prominent United States clergy have condemned the repressive policies of the Salvadoran government, we hope that the academic community will speak up as well. We recall that after the June 4 massacre at Tiananmen Square, you saw fit to mention the issue at MIT's commencement. We hope that you will show an equal concern for human rights and democracy in a case where the United States has substantial influence. We also feel that a response from MIT, a cornerstone of the United States' military technological base which helps keeps the Salvadoran government in power is particularly appropriate.

Finally, we wish to emphasize that while the six priests who were murdered in mid-November grabbed the headlines, they were in no sense "more important" that the 70,000 civilians who have died in El Salvador over the course of the country's civil war, the vast majority at the hands of the U.S.-trained and equipped military. Civilian opponents of the government continue to be imprisoned, tortured, and murdered to this day. United States rhetoric on human rights will never be heeded until that rhetoric is backed by strong action, namely a suspension of aid until the Salvadoran government agrees to seek a peaceful resolution to the conflict and end its severe abuses of human rights. We ask you to add your voice to ours.

Michael Peterson G->

Barry Klinger G->

for the MIT Committee on Central America->