DIANA FRIDA ARON SVIGILSKY
Diana was born on the 15th of February 1950, she was 24 years old at the time of her arrest, single and had just graduated in journalism and was working for the Quimantu editorial. She was a member of the Movimiento de Izquierda Revolucionaria (MIR).
Agents of the Chilean secret police (Direccion de Inteligencia Nacional - DINA) arrested Diana on the 18th of November 1974 while walking on Ossa Avenue in Santiago on her way to visit some friends. When she realized that she was being followed by civilians she tried to escape but was shot both in her lungs and kidneys. The agents themselves gave this information to Luis Muñoz Gonzalez while he was kept under arrest at Villa Grimaldi, a detention and torture centre in Santiago. After Diana was shot and injured she was taken to Villa Grimaldi, late that night on the same day of her arrest, she was taken to a clinic situated in calle Santa Lucia, run by the DINA from where she disappeared. Towards the end of November of that year Diana’s home situated in Calle Rosita Renard No 1289, Nuñoa, was searched. She shared the house with her boyfriend Luis Alfredo Muñoz Gonzalez, who was subsequently arrested by the DINA on December the 10th.
On the 16th of January the property owner Mr Jose Pedro Benforado Carreno was interrogated and subsequently arrested and taken to a detention centre run by the DINA, he was accused of protecting and aiding members of the MIR for renting his property to Diana Aaron; he was kept in the detention camp for 12 days. After Luis Alfredo Muñoz Gonzalez was arrested he was taken to Villa Grimaldi where he was interrogated and tortured. While at that torture-centre he was told by an agent, supposedly a Captain, that Diana had been arrested and that he himself had taken part in the operation. He added that Diana had tried to escape and that she had been shot 4 times and then taken to the military hospital from where she disappeared. While being tortured Luis Muñoz was told that Diana’s life depended on him cooperating by giving names and addresses of other people. Eventually on the 20th of January 1975 the same captain told Luis that Diana had died on the 10th of January. However, Hector Hernan Gonzalez Osorio (a political prisoner), in his testimony declared that on the 6th of December 1974 he was arrested and taken to Villa Grimaldi, while there, he was told by Osvaldo Romo Mena ("guaton Romo", a notorious Chilean torturer) that Diana had died in that centre while she was being tortured.
LEGAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE ACTIONS: On the 13th of December 1974 in Santiago’s Court of Appeal a Habeas Corpus No: 156274 was lodged on her behalf. Giving full details of the circumstances under which Diana’s arrest took place. During the Habeas Corpus process endless reports were requested from the Home Office, from the Commander in Chief of the state of siege, and from the Air Force War Commando, but to no avail. On the 22nd of January 1975 the Court requested a report from the DINA but were told to approach the Chilean Interior Ministry or SENDET (an organization whose responsibility is to give this kind of information). On the 3rd of March the Chilean Interior Ministry declared that they had no arrest warrant on the detainee. On the 17th of March the Court of Appeal of Santiago rejected the Habeas Corpus. Since then, no news about Diana and her whereabouts has been heard. Today, Diana continue to be disappeared.
A tree was planted on his memory, as part of our ecomemoria program : www.ecomemoria.com
Tree Planting - Brill
On the 2nd of February 2002, an English Oak (Quercus Robur), was planted in memory of Diana Frida Aron Svigilisky, by the Bernwode Amnesty International Group - Brill - United Kingdom.
Words spoken by Luis Muñoz at the planting of a tree in memory of his partner, Diana Aron, in Brill, Great Britain.
Dear comrades and friends:
I’d like to thank the Brill community, Amnesty International and the dear Chileans who belong to Ecomemoria group for this beautiful idea
Always, when one refers to a short life, which has been lost dramatically, one refers to the qualities of the person: that she was beautiful, intelligent, and generous, etc. It would seem to be that if the person has these qualities, a murder, as it is in this case, would become more unacceptable. Let me tell you, the thousands and thousands of disappeared and executed in Chile were beautiful, generous and giving people also.
Why not say so: Diana was beautiful, extremely intelligent and very generous. But the most fundamental aspect of all is that Diana, as many of the young people of that generation, had the chance to choose, and she chose to share the destiny of the overlooked people of her country. Diana came from a wealthy family in Santiago, she could have chosen to go with the flow; to do what her brothers and sisters did, and follow the route of her normal life. She could have accepted the demands of her family to leave the country “ whatever you choose “ they said. Diana chose to stay in Chile to work together with others, organise, and minimise the impact of the barbarism that fell on the Chilean people.
Diana chose to hold on with all her strength to her dream, without giving importance to the price of her audacity. And she continued to dream of a free country, with popular rights already won, with a radiant future for the poor, the workers, the peasants and the young Chileans. Diana dreamt the impossible trying to reach the possible.
I had the privilege to love that woman, and also had the privilege to be the one who received her love in the sphere of our intimate lives. But beyond anything, Diana loved her people, and decided to prove her love with an incredible consistency.
I’d like to read now an extract of something I had written before Pinochet’s arrest in London.
Incredulity, surprise, shock are the words that come to my mind when trying to describe what is beyond description, beyond words, beyond concepts.
Until then, the language that we used to talk about life was the language of values, morals and principles, which seemed to have been always there, secure in the depths not only of our society but of humanity as a whole. They were not concepts or ideas that needed much analysis or had to be taught at length to become part of the individual and all of society. It was like in the words of my grandmothers, “things are so because life has always been like that; a custom”. In other words things are so because we have always been human, the way things have always been. That is that a mother has taught her daughters a way to be as she was taught by her mother, and she had learnt from hers and so even before them. There were times when things were taught without noticing that one was being educated or was educating, because most of the time words were not needed. It was a time when people could just be themselves, and that was enough because tenderness, solidarity, fraternity, and love were feelings that emerged from just living.
Horror, fear, suffering, extreme cruelty and sadism perpetrated by another human being, and by another compatriot, seemed only possible from someone whose mind was ill, by somebody who had become mad. But the 11th of September 1973 was something totally different. It was a calculated and premeditated act undertaken by the State to exterminate our compatriots. They were atrocities, terror and pure butchery in the name of the State. That gave way to the most incredible pathology in the minds of the Chilean armed forces.
Now I am here, after many years of distance and many years of silence. It does not make any sense to speak about something one can not do anything about. Something in front of which one could do nothing to stop it happening. I could do nothing to protect Diana, or María Cristina, or Pedro, or Pablo, or José, my comrades, my people, my grandmothers’ kisses, her songs at bed time, their wisdom. I could not protect my body so that they would not commit sacrilege against humanity and evolution through me.
It is better to keep silent. To be honest, I have no other option as words do not come out. I know that I am here and that is a fact. I am here physically and you are looking at me and can even touch me, but to be honest I did not escape. They got hold of me and now I am not even sure where I am. Sometimes I think I am here, but other times that I am there, or one part of me is here and the other part is there. Maybe you are right, what you name the dark part of yourself, that huge deep black hole, the silent part, the part with the enormous open eyes staring at you, that is the part that is not here. At this stage you might ask yourself: which is the biggest part, or what is there for you, or the girls, for life?
You tell me that I move slowly. You should know that I am carrying a heavy shadow. It is full of bodies, beautiful bodies, the bodies and the faces of the loved ones, the ones who remained too lonely while they were tormented, and they were cold and nobody gave them warmth, and they were afraid and no hand to hold. My shadow is full of their last words before they died, raped, their bodies mutilated, abused, broken and defeated. I know of their last words and their last sounds as I was there. I accompanied them up to the threshold. I can hear them clearly all the time, their laments, their calls for help, I can hear the names of their mothers, their children they had no chance to have or cuddle. I get very sad, can you understand? One of those children was mine.
Yes, I can hear their voices and I love them but can not reach them. My struggle is that one day I will be able to reach them. I’ll be able to touch them, cuddle them and close their eyes. So, I have to keep trying, because if I try with enough persistence, it might happen that I reach them, I might die and stay with them.
They are so lonely and they do not know why they have been treated like that. Their eyes are wide open – the ones who still have them – but cannot see as their eyes are blindfolded. They look in their minds for a clue that could explain the horror. They are trying to find where was all of that waiting, where were those obscure members of our society, those hidden compatriots waiting to perform the crimes they performed. Where was that hatred, that cruelty, savageness, as if they belonged to different race, unknown to us and to them? Where do they come from? They are not in our schoolbooks; they were also not in our country’s mythology nor in the stories of our old ones. They speak a strange language, insulting, obscene, monosyllabic and morbid. They do not want to talk, they shout, give orders and bursts of insults.
Comrades, friends, my loved ones, you do not understand, you cannot understand. You have not committed any crime; you have done nothing wrong. Your intentions have been noble and generous; you have not hurt anybody. You were used to dialogue, discussions, mutual respect in understanding. You were taught that if you did wrong you would be punished according to the traditions. What is this then? This has no meaning, this is senseless.
I know, you want to die now, you have no more strength. But it is so tremendously sad to die at the hands of so much senseless brutality, at the hands of such a monstrous stupidity. Now you feel responsible and ashamed. Responsible for not having recognised them before, for the incapacity to prevent, for not having seen the signs, for having allowed this bestiality happen. You feel ashamed for being in the hands of sub-humans. In the hands of the madmen who found the golden opportunity to act out their pathologies because they have absolute power. Your hands and your feet are tied and you cannot see them. There is nothing you can do to defend yourself, to protect yourself, to protect your family, your people. They will kill you and you will not be able to explain it to yourself or to the generations to come. I know, I know, they will not find you, even worse, you’ll be forgotten.
Diana, in my dreams you come and go, sometimes sweet, sometimes sad. In my daily routines you appear, in the look of another woman, in a voice, in the smell of perfume. In those moments I stop and try to find you amongst the crowd, as if you would be in Santiago. I know it is useless, that I might seem crazy, but is an instinct stuck to my skin. Without being aware I turn my head when I recognise your voice, your laughter, your eyes in a London street.
Forever my heart will remain suspended by those strokes. It is as if the dagger of your absence, which I carry in my breast, would submerge a bit deeper in my broken heart when I hear you, until I have no more strength. Then I will stop, with eyes wide open, trying to find you amongst the crowd.
Diana, here is a tree in your memory.
Your tree, in this far away country of generous people.
Let it grow strong
Let it grow until it reaches your heights.
February 2nd 2002