Saturday 25 August 2012

Colombia: Hector Abad Faciolince's Oblivion

“From the beginning, when I was seated in the pool of my father’s blood, I knew I had to tell that story, to write a book and tell the truth and not let the assassins impose their lies on us,” said Abad.
The Washington Post has a review of Hector Abad Faciolince's book Oblivion, now published in English in the US. The memoir of his father, who was murdered in Colombia in the 1980s, is "not a book distorted by rage" but a detailed account of a life in a "country without memory". Sounds fascinating - and the article here also includes one of those photos of a small photo cupped in the hands, which I find particularly interesting.

A generation later, Colombian author rescues murdered father from ‘oblivion’ (Washington Post)

News round-up

A judge ordered the arrest on Tuesday of eight retired police and military officers in connection with the kidnapping and disappearance of Boris Weisfeiler, an American university professor who disappeared while hiking in Chile in 1985. 
Chilean Ex-Officers Charged in 1985 Kidnapping of U.S. Hiker (NY Times)

Retired Colombian general Rito Alejo Del Rio has been sentenced to 25 years in prison for the murder of a peasant decapitated by a right-wing death squad in the late 1990s. Del Rio did not physically participate in the murder but allowed far-right militias to operate with impunity in the Uraba region, where he commanded the army’s 17th Brigade.
Retired General Sentenced for Death Squad Killing (NY Times)

A former head of Guatemala's police force, Pedro Garcia Arredondo, has been sentenced to 70 years in prison for the 1981 kidnapping of a student during the country's brutal civil war.
Guatemala ex-police chief jailed for civil war kidnap (BBC)

This is not specifically about the disappeared children of Argentina, but a profile of Dr. José A. Lorente, whose genetics work has helped to identify missing children in various countries including Peru and Guatemala.
Putting Genetics to Work to Find Missing Children (NY Times)

Thursday 23 August 2012

Peru: Draft law to ban terrorism denial

Peruvian prime minister Juan Jiménez Mayor has announced plans to outlaw denial of the terrorism Peru experienced by the MRTA and Sendero Luminoso, in much the same way as Holocaust denial is illegal in Germany. The proposed law is known as the "ley de Negacionismo" and is likely to be largely directed at MOVADEF, the new political successor to the Shining Path. 

Being very familiar with the German concept, I'm a bit torn on this one. It's pretty clear why Germany introduced its law, but I was discussing it with my German husband the other day and we agreed that it can seem outdated now. On a related issue, we were watching a programme where various parties were arguing about the terrible things that would happen if we allowed the population to actually read Mein Kampf (which is not, strictly speaking, banned, but the state of Bavaria holds the copyright and they refuse to allow publication). It's generally agreed that Mein Kampf is a terrible, rambling tome more likely to put the reader off Nazism than encourage it, but in Germany, access to it is still restricted. It's all a bit patronising, and we are generations on now. We shouldn't be denying the Holocaust because doing so is outrageous and the vast majority of people know that, not because certain statements are banned.

So, although I'm shocked by arguments that the Shining Path wasn't a terrorist group which committed major human rights abuses, I'm not convinced that banning such statements is the way to go. I think I'd be putting my efforts towards educating the younger generation about what actually happened so they would be less likely to be persuaded by them.

Peru to punish “negationism”, denying a past of killings and destruction by terrorist gangs (Mercopress)
Ley de Negacionismo se aplicará a quienes nieguen violencia de SL y MRTA (La Republica)
Jiménez: Ley de “negacionismo” protegerá a la población del terrorismo (Andina)

Sunday 5 August 2012

Brazil round-up

The Brazilian truth commission is attracting some attention outside the country, mainly due to the connection with current president Dilma Rousseff:
Leader’s Torture in the ’70s Stirs Ghosts in Brazil (NY Times)
Primer: Rousseff and Brazil’s Dark Past (NY Times; video)
Brazil to shed light on 'dirty war' abuse (CNN)

And blog Transitional Justice in Brazil has a response to the CNN piece and its lack of focus on US involvement:

CNN Controversially Summarizes Brazil’s Transitional Justice Effort (Transtional Justice in Brazil)

Friday 3 August 2012

News round-up

The former head of the secret police in Chile under Pinochet,  Manuel Contreras Sepúlveda, and four other former officals of the DINA have been sentenced to 15 years in prison for the disappearance of a young man in 1975.
Condenan a cinco represores de la dictadura chilena (Agencia Pulsar)

Pinochet regime spied on foreign media correspondents, recently uncovered documentation shows.
Revelan que gobierno de Pinochet habría espiado a corresponsales extranjeros (La Tercera)

Experts say post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute depression are on the rise in Mexico as a result of the increasing violence seen over the last few years.
Mexico’s Spiral of Violence Causes Spike in PTSD (IPS)

In the next stage of the furore created by the recent Colina Group ruling, human rights organisations in Peru are planning Friday to present a request to the National Magistrates Council to remove Javier Villa Stein from the presidency of the Supreme Court.
Human Rights Groups Seek To Remove Supreme Court Head (Peruvian Times)

“My father has given up on the idea of a pardon because he knows he is innocent and there are no clear and positive signals on the part of the government,” Congressman Kenji Fujimori said.
Alberto Fujimori Has Given Up On Pardon – Report (Peruvian Times)
Kenji Fujimori: "Mi padre renunció a la idea del indulto" (El Comercio)

Thursday 2 August 2012

Argentina: Cuban diplomat disappeared in 1976 identified

Argentine daily Pagina/12 reports that remains discovered by children on an airfield in June have been identified as those of Crescencio Nicomedes Galañena Hernández, a Cuban diplomat disappeared by the Argentine military regime in 1976.

Galañena Hernández and his colleague Jesús Cejas Arias were abducted on 9 August 1976 just after leaving the Cuban embassy in Buenos Aires where they worked. The following week, it was reported that their diplomatic credentials were sent to the Associated Press along with a letter purporting to be from the men and claiming that they had fled to the West. In fact, they were being held in Automotores Orletti, the detention centre used as a base for Operation Condor (ie for many of those disappeared not of Argentine origin). There, according to US journalist John Dinges, they were also interrogated by CIA agent Michael Townley and Cuban-American Guillermo Novo Sampoll. 

Former general Rodolfo Cabanillas and perpetrators Raúl Guglielminetti, Eduardo Alfredo Ruffo and Honorio Carlos Martínez Ruiz have already been convicted of the disappearance of the Cubans.

The Argentina forensic anthropology team (EAAF) carried out the DNA testing that has identified Galañena Hernández.

En un barril de metal lleno de cemento (Pagina/12)