We denounce assaults in the exhumation for the massacre of 116 children in 1988, in Cunén.
This Tuesday, 28th September 2021, former civil defence patrollers (ex-PAC), blocked and obstructed the start of an exhumation programmed for today in the former military base of Chiul, Cunén, Quiché.
Assaulting the complainant and accompanying human rights organisations, they detained journalists and obstructed the criminal investigation that the Public Prosecutor’s Office is carrying out in this case.
Given the seriousness of the events, UDEFEGUA requests that the attacks and intimidations against those who demand justice cease, it is necessary to guarantee the conduct of investigations prioritising the security, integrity and enjoyment of people’s rights.
We condemn the acts of violence during the process, and we reaffirm our accompaniment that we have provided to Mr. Arnulfo Oxlaj, for the massacre committed against 116 children in 1988.
The above alert was issued by UDEFEGUA in response to an attack on members of the Public Prosecutor’s office in carrying out an exhumation on the site of a former military base in Quiché. Also attacked were Arnulfo Oxlaj, a survivor of the massacre, human rights accompaniers, and journalists. The exhumation is to be carried out in coordination with FAFG.
You can read the above notice here, UDEFEGUA – ¡alerta!
Bill Barreto has a news item in Reuters on the events.
Residents of a Mayan community in Guatemala prevented experts on Tuesday from beginning to exhume the remains of more than 100 children believed to have been buried clandestinely in a former military garrison during the country’s civil war in the 1980s.
The search efforts in the village of Chiul, more than 120 miles (200 km) from Guatemala City, were scheduled to begin early on Tuesday morning but were suspended after residents disrupted the plans without offering an explanation for their opposition.
Arnulfo Oxlaj, one of the survivors of the massacre who was at the site on Tuesday, said that among those who opposed the exhumations were former members of the country’s armed forces, which has been accused of carrying out the massacre.
“(They are) interested in opposing justice,” he said.
You can read the full piece, including links and a short video, here, Search for remains of indigenous children killed in Guatemala massacre blocked by residents.
The civil defence patrols (PAC) were set up by the Guatemalan military, in the 1970s/80s as an important aspect of the counterinsurgency strategy. In rural areas, all men between the ages of 15 and 60 were forced to participate and, by 1984, there were more than 900,000 members of the civil patrol system. They were also responsible for many massacres carried out in rural Guatemala during the armed conflict.
You can read more about the PACs, and the role they played, here Court to Determine if Maya Achí Sexual Violence Case Goes to Trial.