Peru: mass grave uncovered

In the Peruvian village of Huanta, Ayacucho region, forensic workers March 9 began exhuming the remains of 49 people from a mass grave, thought to be victims of a massacre during the nation’s 1980-2000 conflict with Maoist guerillas. Some 200 relatives of the disappeared gathered at the site, chanting “We demand justice,” as the exhumation began on orders of the local prosecutor’s office. A lawyer for the relatives, Karim Ninaquispe, said the victims went missing in July and August of 1984. Investigators believe they were taken to Huanta’s municipal stadium, where the Peruvian navy had established a base. “In that place they were tortured, executed and their bodies were later made to disappear,” Ninaquispe said.

The exhumation is the first undertaken this year. Prosecutors hope to investigate more than 40,000 secret graves that may hold victims from either military or guerilla forces. According to the Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR) nearly 70,000 people were either killed or disappeared in the two-decade war between Peru’s military and the Shining Path guerillas. Many have not yet been identified. (AFP, March 11; Suomenkuvalehti, Helsinki, FSRN, March 10)

The Shining Path has recently shown signs of a resurgence in Ayacucho and neighboring regions.

See our last post on Peru.

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