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Guatemalan Dictator EfraíN Rios Montt On Trial for Genocide, Crimes Against Humanity

World  (tags: Guatemala, civil war, , Genocide, crimes against humanity, accountability, impunity, counterinsurgency plan, "scorched earth" campaign, rape, torture, atrocities, indigenous, rural Maya, Ixil tribe )

- 2338 days ago -
Accused re deaths of 1,700 indigenous people -unarmed Ixil tribe members- & campaign of rape & torture against leftist insurgents targeting rural Maya. Ruled during bloodiest period of brutal 36-yr civil war & cnterinsurgncy plan drove 29,000 more to flee

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LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Friday January 27, 2012, 5:43 am
From 'International Justice Resource Center' - If you read only one article, read this one. It also contains several essential links: In Guatemala, Long-Awaited Step towards Accountability as Former Dictator Faces Genocide Charges

Among several articles linked to in the above piece: Don't Let Ríos Montt Get Away the Pinochet Way

Past Member (0)
Friday January 27, 2012, 6:11 am
Another one bites the dust. Not been a great year for dictators, has it? Wonderful.

Thanks very much for posting.

Teresa W (782)
Friday January 27, 2012, 6:29 am
thank you

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Friday January 27, 2012, 2:53 pm
Latest Update: Friday 27 January 2012 15.21 GMT Judge rules that Guatemala's former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt must face charges of genocide and crimes against humanity - Guatemala human rights groups welcome genocide trial (article & video):

Human rights groups celebrated on Friday after a court in Guatemala ruled that the former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt, who presided over one of Latin America's bloodiest civil wars, will face trial on charges of genocide and crimes against humanity.

Members of the Ixil tribe, which suffered horrific atrocities at the hands of the army, said they had waited decades for this moment but expressed disappointment that the retired general was placed under house arrest rather than jailed.

After a day-long hearing, Judge Carol Patricia Flores Blanco ruled on Thursday that there was sufficient evidence linking Ríos Montt to the massacre of 1,700 indigenous people during his 17-month rule in 1982 and 1983.

The judge agreed with prosecutors who said the 85-year-old, as head of the government at the time, should answer for the armed forces' actions. It was one of the more brutal phases of a 36-year conflict which ended in 1996 after claiming 200,000 lives. The trial's preliminary hearing was scheduled for March.

Eduardo de Leon, of the Rigoberta Menchú foundation, named after the Nobel peace prize winner, told reporters it was a historic day. "The justice system is settling debts it had with indigenous people and society for grave human rights violations," he said.

Survivors' groups erected altars and shrines with candles and photos in the plaza in front of the tribunal. "I would have done anything to see that gentleman seated in the dock," a peasant named only as Pedro, who lost his father during the conflict, told el Periódico.

Andrea Barrios, of the Movement of Women, said activists' patience and stubbornness had been rewarded.

Aura Elena Farfán, of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Guatemala, complained that the defendant was allowed home after posting £40,000 bail, rather than jailed. "For us this doesn't mean anything. It's as if Ríos Montt was free," she said. "It pains us and we think the ruling is a game. It wasn't what we expected." Others said the defendant's impeccable suit and punctuality - in fact he arrived early - were part of a strategy to clinch house arrest.

Prosecutors said the dictator, who seized power in a coup, unleashed a campaign of slaughter, terror and rape against Maya highland villages which were suspected of backing leftwing guerrillas.

Human rights groups have long accused him of being among the cruellest despots during Latin America's cold war era of US-backed counter-insurgency operations. The Reagan administration armed and supported Ríos Montt, calling him a bulwark against communism.

During the prosecutors' presentation, the judge asked the defendant if he had any response. In a firm voice, he said: "I prefer to remain silent." Defence lawyers argued he could not be held responsible for abuses because he did not determine the level of force nor control battlefield operations.

Survivors' decades-long quest for justice bore fruit last year when prosecutors opened cases against two other retired generals. Ríos Montt was immune from prosecution since his election to congress in 2000 but his term expired earlier this month.

Meanwhile in Chile, in a further sign of the region's grappling with its authoritarian past, the government decided to resume using the term "dictatorship" when referring to Augusto Pinochet's 1973-1990 rule. Late last year Sebastian Piñera's centre-right administration caused controversy by amending the term to "military regime" in textbooks. It backtracked after being accused of trying to veil history.

Just this past September, I posted Democracy Now!'s Sept 15th program on "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator", a new documentary film that "links Guatemala’s turbulent past with those who are active players in its present. The film, "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator," which is part political thriller and part memoir, spans four decades, following several people as they search for the details that can be used to hold accountable those responsible for the genocide in which Guatemalan military and paramilitary soldiers killed more than 200,000 people. The film documents the movement by Mayans to seek justice, featuring Nobel Prize winner and indigenous Guatemalan activist, Rigoberta Menchú, who is challenging Pérez in the presidential election. Speaking on the program are the film’s director, Pamela Yates, and Fredy Peccerelli, director of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation. The film documents his team’s work to unearth mass graves in a search for those killed by the military, even as he faces threats from clandestine groups that want the truth to stay buried: "Granito: How to Nail a Dictator": New Film Tracks Mayans' Struggle for Justice After Guatemalan Genocide (This DN! program must be WATCHED because it contains numerous clips from this new award-winning documentary & the tapescript just doesn't cut it - it has to be SEEN ! So--- just click on the arrow on the little screen, I mean the video frame, you'll see when you click the link to the program.)

It looks like the film taught some useful lessons, since Rios Montt has now been 'nailed'!

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Friday January 27, 2012, 3:44 pm
I have found an interesting post by a member named Phil whom I don't know. His post ought to be getting more attention : Reagan's Hands in Guatemala's Genocide: "Guatemala has begun a politically difficult process to make human rights violators of the 1980s accountable for their genocide inflicted on Indian villages, but the United States still heaps praise on the killers' American accomplice, Ronald Reagan."

Abdessalam Diab (145)
Saturday January 28, 2012, 7:00 am
Who lives with the sword will die with the sword.Thanks my friend for this post.One day Zionist leaders who kicked out 750,000 Palestinians (1947-1949) and over 250,000 more in 1967 and killed thousand of Palestinians specially in Gaza may find themselves before a court of justice. I hope.

patricia lasek (317)
Saturday January 28, 2012, 7:17 am
St. Ronnie, indeed! Why the RepublicanTs insist on canonizing this mass murderer is beyond me.

Jytte Nhanenge (64)
Saturday January 28, 2012, 10:59 am
Lovely news. I am imagining the day when they are all going to trial, including George W. Bush and his helpers.

LucyKaleido ScopeEyes (82)
Saturday January 28, 2012, 3:24 pm
From Amnesty news page featuring the Jan 27 article "Guatemala: Former head of state’s trial for genocide one more step against impunity" :

"A 1999 UN-backed truth commission found that during Guatemala’s 36-year internal armed conflict some 200,000 people were killed or disappeared. The commission documented more than 600 massacres, and concluded that genocide had occurred.

The commission found that nearly half of all the human rights violations committed during the conflict took place in 1982. General Ríos Montt was de facto ruler for nine months of that year.

The case against Ríos Montt is part of a criminal case filed in 2001 against various former military officials by the Association for Justice and Reconciliation, a group representing hundreds of victims of human rights violations during the armed conflict.

The retired general, now 85, has been placed under house arrest until his trial’s conclusion, and could face 20 to 30 years in prison if found guilty.

“Three decades have passed since these massacres and the case was filed 11 years ago. Victims and their families shouldn’t have to wait any longer to obtain the redress they deserve,” said Sebastian Elgueta.

Backlog of cases

Numerous other cases of human rights violations from Guatemala’s internal armed conflict have yet to be fully investigated.

The 1999 UN-backed truth commission registered 23,671 victims of arbitrary execution, and 6,159 victims of enforced disappearance.

Despite a court order and a pledge from former Guatemalan President Álvaro Colom, the military has yet to hand over documents that could prove crucial to the investigations of these and other human rights violations.

Meanwhile, the families of thousands of those who were disappeared during the armed conflict still do not know what happened to their relatives’ remains.

“Guatemala’s new President, Otto Pérez Molina, should lead the way in ensuring accountability for past human rights violations and justice for victims and their families who have been waiting for over 30 years for justice," said Sebastian Elgueta.

"Sending a clear signal that he will break the vicious circle of impunity that has marked the country should be his first priority.”

Amnesty is more than a little foolish here - I mean publishing that quote from Amnesty International researcher on Central America, Sebastian Elgueta, that "Guatemala’s new President, Otto Pérez Molina, should lead the way in ensuring accountability..." without mentioning that Otto Perez Molina is also a former high ranking military man who rose in his career during the same period when the Mayan genocide was being carried out; that he was part of it -- is really playing a very weird kind of game! Genocide-Linked General Otto PéRez Molina Poised to Become Guatemala's Next President: DN! discusses the election & its implications with human rights attorney Jennifer Harbury, who has first hand knowledge of Guatemala during the so-called civil war aka the genocide.

Amnesty Take Action: Faxjam the Attorney General of Guatemala on behalf of human rights defender Norma Cruz -
Guatemalan human rights defender Norma Cruz, leader of the women’s rights organization Fundación Sobrevivientes, has received repeated death threats because of her work supporting victims of violence against women and calling for those responsible to be prosecuted.

4667 Actions taken >>>>> (1802 Faxes pending) >>>>>>> Target: 7200


Past Member (0)
Sunday January 29, 2012, 3:50 am
If he is guilty, do not let him off lightly.

Carmen S (611)
Sunday January 29, 2012, 8:26 am
noted thanks for posting this

brittany h (16)
Sunday January 29, 2012, 9:41 am
Sadly, it is not surprising that this happens, as this kind of thing goes one in alot of places,everyday. Alot of people don't hear about it, so they don't know about. some people don't know what they can do about it, so they ignore it.

jayasri amma (10)
Sunday January 29, 2012, 5:42 pm
thank you

jayasri amma (10)
Sunday January 29, 2012, 5:42 pm
thank you

Rosemary G (79)
Sunday January 29, 2012, 8:42 pm
This is going to open a whole can of worms because of CIA involvement in the events and even American involvement.

Lauren F (0)
Monday January 30, 2012, 8:24 am
interesting. thanks for the article.

Marianna molnar woods (9)
Monday January 30, 2012, 11:41 am

Angelika R (143)
Tuesday January 31, 2012, 4:02 pm
Sure glad they got him and will hopefully lead to the fate he deserves. Thanks Jill, I learned a lot that I didn't know before, also from Phil's post. Thx for pointing to it.
However, I must agree with Rosemary G.'s suggestion, given the unfortunate policy of the US to keep truth in history from coming to light...
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