Concerned Relatives Petition to State Department, May 10, 1978


From: “Concerned Relatives”: Parents and relatives of children and adults under the control of Rev. James Warren Jones at “Jonestown”, Northwest District, Cooperative Republic of Guyana
Date: May 10, 1978

We, the undersigned 57 petitioners, are the grief-stricken parents and relatives of the hereinafter-designated U. S. citizens now residing in the Cooperative Republic of Guyana, South America. We respectfully entreat you to attend to the following facts:

1. More than 1,000 United States citizens, including our relatives, are now living in Guyana, South America at a jungle encampment named “Jonestown”, whose leader is Jim Jones, also a citizen of the United States.

2. We have evidence that Jonestown has turned into a “concentration camp” in which the rights of its residents under the U. S. Constitution, the United Nations Charter, the Guyana Constitution, and the Guyana Penal Code are being seriously and systematically violated by Jim Jones. The facts supporting this sad conclusion include the following:

a. The stationing of guards around Jonestown to prevent anyone leaving the encampment without Jones’ permission;

b. The confiscation by Jones of all passports and monies to prevent anyone from buying an airline ticket home and from being cleared at Timehri International Airport to leave Guyana;

c. The requirement that no resident of Jonestown be permitted to leave the encampment except on business for Jones, and then only in the company of others required to spy and report back to Jones;

d. The prohibition of long distance telephone calls to the United States and all other forms of free communication;

e. The censoring of all incoming and outgoing mail;

f. The prohibition of anyone leaving Jones’ organization, Peoples Temple, under threat of death.

These are facts, and they are documented by eye-witness accounts in the notarized affidavits of Yulanda Crawford and Steven A. Katsaris attached hereto. (In addition, we have recently been advised and believe, but need an investigation to verify, that Jones has installed barbed-wire fences and has also installed a closed-circuit television system for internal surveillance.)

4. On April 12, 1978 we served on Peoples Temple officials in San Francisco a document which cited, by Article and Section number, the particular provisions of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (guaranteed by Article 55 of the United Nations Charter) and of the Guyana Constitution being violated. This document is entitled, “Accusation of Human Rights Violations by Rev. James Warren Jones Against Our Children and Relatives at the Peoples Temple Jungle Encampment in Guyana, South America.”

5. On April 19, 1978 we sent a copy of the aforesaid Accusation to each of the following officials of the Department of State:

a. Hon. Cyrus Vance, Secretary of State;
b. Hon. Warren Christopher, Deputy Secretary of State;
c. Hon. Douglas Bennet, Assistant Secretary of State for Congressional Relations;
d. Hon. Patricia Derian, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights;
e. Hon. Hodding Carter III, Assisstant Secretary of State for Public Affairs; and
f. Hon. Stephen Dobrenchuk, Chief of Emergency and Protection Services Division for Department of State.

6. We are herewith submitting today a document entitled, “PETITION ENTREATING PRIME MINISTER FORBES BURNHAM TO STOP REV. JAMES WARREN JONES FROM FURTHER VIOLATIONS OF THE HUMAN RIGHTS OF OUR RELATIVES IN GUYANA.” We ask that you read it carefully, particularly the quotations from Peoples Temple on a “decision” to die, and a “unanimous vote” to put “our lives on the line.” We ask that you then transmit the same through official State Department channels to the Honorable Forbes Burnham.

NOW, THEREFORE, WE RESPECTFULLY ask that you, HONORABLE CYRUS VANCE, in your capacity as SECRETARY OF STATE FOR THE UNITED STATES, take the following action to protect the human and legal rights of the United States citizens in Jonestown, Guyana, before it is too late:

  1. Immediately transmit to the Honorable Forbes Burnham, Prime Minister of Guyana, the enclosed petition dated May 10, 1978 addressed to him.
  2. Immediately order the Honorable John R. Burke, United States Ambassador to Guyana, to launch a continuing investigation of Jonestown, including the placement of U. S. Embassy personnel in Jonestown to protect the legal rights of the U. S. citizens there.
  3. Officially request on behalf of the United States Government that Prime Minister Burnham take the action requested in our aforesaid petition addressed to him.
  4. Officially request all international agencies concerned with human rights to investigate and monitor the activities of Jim Jones which violate such rights, including the United Nations, the International Commission of Human Rights, the International Red Cross, Amnesty International, the International Commission of Jurists.
  5. Notify our spokesman, Steven A. Katsaris, Trinity School, 915 West Church Street, Ukiah, California 95482 (telephone 707-462-8721) of your willingness to take the action herein requested.



(Summarized Listing of Petitioners
Attached to Enclosed Petition to
Guyana Prime Minister Forbes Burnham)