Monday, 3 August 2009

Peru: Museum of Memory 'Must Emphasise Work of Armed Forces'

This article had me seeing red today:

"The Work of the Armed Forces Must be Emphasised in the Museum of Memory"

Chief of the Armed Forces, Francisco Contreras, has insisted that the sacrifice of the military must be given a 'dominant' role in the future Museum of Memory in Peru.
"We want reconciliation to be fair and to emphasise the work of the Armed Forces and to give the ones who defend the Nation a dominant place in this museum (...) We hope and request that the Museum of Memory gives us the place we deserve".
Contreras further said that the process of selecting photographs to present to the museum was continuing. This is a reference to the armed forces' belief that the Yuyanapaq exhibition is 'biased'. In fact, it shows all aspects of political violence, including members of the military murdered by Shining Path, and their relatives.

State agencies were responsible for around 45% of deaths in the civil conflict - that's over 30,000 people (total number of deaths estimated by CVR at 69,280) [stats here, p. 4-6]. The great majority of these were Quechua-speaking, indigenous citizens from Ayacucho and other rural regions. National institutions have a responsibility to protect civilians; instead they slaughtered them with impunity.

But now it's all unfair and they are not going to come off well in the museum so they go whining to the media that people need to be grateful? I find this incredibly infuriating, and the persecution complex ("oh, the human rights organisations are out to get me!") is just sickening. Please, let's take them at their word and cover the work of the armed forces during the 1980s and 1990s - the extrajudicial executions, the torture, the unfounded arrests, the disappearances, the total disregard for democracy and decency.

And, in case anyone misunderstand, let me spell this out (again): I am no fan of Sendero. I fully accept and agree that individual members of the armed forces, who were real people with families, were murdered by the two guerrilla groups, Shining Path and the MRTA. I fully condemn these crimes. And who cares what I think? The CVR condemned and condemns them too [here, note 53]. This should have its place in the museum. If only we could leave it at that. Sadly, these personal tragedies are overshadowed by the institutional failings which led to mass crimes against humanity committed by the military - and that, we must not forget.

"Se debe resaltar la labor de las Fuerzas Armadas en el Museo de la Memoria" (El Comercio)

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