Monday, May 19, 2014

Genocide survivors respond to congressional resolution to deny genocide

"We are thousands of Guatemalan victims of grave human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict. The only thing we ask for is justice."  - Communique from survivors in response to congressional resolution to deny genocide
Genocide survivors gather in front of the Congress of the Republic.
On late Tuesday, May 13, the Guatemalan Congress passed a shocking resolution categorically denying that genocide occurred in Guatemala. The resolution states that the “so-called ‘trial of the century’” threatens “National Reconciliation”. 87 congressional members, of the 111 present, voted in favor of the resolution across party lines.

Today, genocide survivors gathered outside Congress to denounce this resolution. Below are excerpts from their statement.

Banners outside Congress call for truth and justice for genocide.

Communique from the Victims of the Guatemalan Genocide to the 
Congress of the Republic

The victims of the grave violations of human rights and International Humanitarian Law, who suffered genocide, forced disappearance, torture, extra-judicial executions, sexual violence, massacres and assassinations committed by the forces of the State of Guatemala during the recent internal armed conflict, express our rejection of the congressional resolution approved by 87 representatives of the Congress of the Republic on May 13, 2014.

We remind the representatives that the state is required to respect the rights of victims to truth and justice precisely because Guatemala is a signatory to international human rights treaties and conventions. It is indispensable that grave crimes such as genocide and crimes against humanity are judged and that justice is done.

We demand that the Congress of the Republic respect the National Reconciliation Law... We condemn any attempt to grant amnesty for these crimes.

We remind the representatives that the State of Guatemala has been condemned internationally for failing to investigate, judge and sanction the people who have committed acts of torture, extra-judicial executions, forced disappearances, sexual violence and other grave violations of international humanitarian law and human rights.

Nobody and nothing should influence the Judiciary, not even these Congressional representatives who, coincidentally, will be electing the judges of the Supreme Court and the Appeals Court.

…We remind the representatives that their legislative duty should benefit the majority of the population and not a small group that feels directly affected; a court of law decided that - Yes, it was Genocide!

We express our concern and rejection of this resolution, which is a clear intervention in the justice system that puts at risk one of the fundamental pillars of the rule of law: swift and full access to justice...

This resolution simply demonstrates that personal and ideological opinions about the armed conflict take precedent over the common good. We are thousands of Guatemalan victims of grave human rights violations committed during the internal armed conflict. The only thing we ask for is justice. 

We want to make clear to the 87 representatives that voted in favor of this resolution that the victims, keeping in mind our rights and obligations as citizens, acting with fraternal conduct and in the clear exercise of our human rights, request justice for what happened during the conflict. We have sought out this democratic and legitimate path. We presented charges against the material or intellectual authors of the atrocities that we suffered. This is our constitutional right that nobody and nothing can take away from us.

We invite the international community to observe the fulfillment of the international obligations of the state in human rights and humanitarian rights so that the barbaric acts committed against the civilian, non-combatant population are investigated, judged and sanctioned. We call on you to be attentive to any attempt to distort the law in favor of impunity.

Congressional representatives: we the victims, want peace – the same peace that you mention in your resolution – that is born of respect for human rights and the right to justice and dignified reparation, which is a primary guarantee that these acts will never be repeated.

In the name of those of us who want peace, that look for pathways to democracy and not hate, racism, impunity and forgetting, we demand that this resolution be retracted. As it says in the genocide sentence, “... to recognize the truth helps to heal the wounds of the past... the application of justice is a right that aids the victims and that also contributes to the strengthening of the rule of law in our country...”

NISGUA has provided human rights accompaniment to the witness' organization, the Association for Justice and Reconciliation, and their lawyers, the Center for Human Rights Legal Action since 2000.

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