Sunday, October 14, 2007

Comisión de la Verdad y Reconciliación

The significance of this information to me will be more apparent if you read the diary just below titled Faces from my childhood.

In June 2001 Peru's President Alejandro Toledo established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission to explore the most violent conflict in the history of Peru. From 1980 to 1995 approximately 69,280 Peruvians were killed in a war between government forces and the communist rebels known as Shining Path.

In its final report the CVR points at Shining Path as the major perpetrator of human rights violations (torture, kidnapping, assassinations), with the Armed Forces in second place and Túpac Amaru Revolutionary Movement in third. The CVR also criticized the performance of the Catholic Church, especially Archbishop of Ayacucho Juan Luis Cipriani, of the Opus Dei.

Here is a quote about the Commission's work from its Chair, Salomon Lerner Febres:

We are convinced that a future of peace and democracy is possible and it is in our hands to make it come true if we identify everything that must never happen in our country again, never more subversive violence, never more a war among Peruvians, never more human rights abuse, never more indifference or silence before our countrymen’s misfortune.

There are occasions in which saying no is also a way to affirm. Saying no to injustice is, above all, a way to open the doors of reconciliation.
The Commission put together a photography exhibit titled Yuyanapaq (link to youtube of some of the photos) which means "to remember" in Quechua, the indigenous language spoken by most of the people who were victims of the violence. Here is what the Commission's web site says about the exhibit:

The images ...reconstruct the history of those violent years, thanks to men and women who, equipped with cameras, decided to register the diverse aspects of the complex reality of the manchaytimpu, or “time of fear”. Many of these images had been ignored or trivialized. The majority of the incidents and protagonists had gone unnoticed or had been forgotten. To recover them and bring them once again to our memory, or register them for the first time, is part of the struggle for truth and reconciliation in which we are immersed.
In 2005, a documentary film titled State of Fear: The Truth About Terrorism was released using much of the information gathered by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. From the film's website:

State of Fear takes place in Peru, yet serves as a cautionary tale for a world engaged in a “global war on terror”. It dramatizes the human and societal costs a democracy faces when it embarks on a “war” against terror, a “war” potentially without end, all too easily exploited by unscrupulous leaders seeking personal political gain.

An unforgettable array of characters takes us down a troubling road peopled by perpetrators and victims, and bystanders who only watched as the horror unfolded. But it is also the story of courageous Peruvians who fought to maintain their democracy and defend human rights, and persevered in their quest for truth and justice.

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