An Open Letter to the Indigenous Peoples of Guatemala
Posted on: Tuesday, May 14, 2013
The international human rights community has been watching for months as former dictator Efrain Rios Montt was brought to trial, thirty years after he led a genocide against Guatemala’s Indigenous Ixil Peoples.
We at MADRE were watching when the courtroom erupted into a three-ring circus, over and over, as lawyers walked out, as judges insisted that the trial was illegal, as the man who inflicted mass killings and rapes upon the people of Guatemala insisted that he was innocent.
We were watching closely just days ago as Efrain Rios Montt was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity.
While we watched, we remembered all the times we have visited our sister organizations in their communities, sitting with them in their homes and hearing the horrors that they faced. This trial finally confirmed for the whole world Rios Montt’s role in orchestrating months of terror and attempting to destroy the Ixil People.
This measure of justice, more than thirty years after those dark days, is long overdue.
We know that this verdict cannot heal the wounds that you have suffered. It will not bring back the loved ones you have lost. It will not rebuild the communities that were torn apart and the homes that were destroyed.
But every day, by surviving and supporting each other, you are restoring your lives and your communities, your histories and your culture.
Your commitment to justice made this victory possible. You refused to be silenced, even when powerful forces tried to intimidate and threaten you. You refused to be ridiculed or dismissed. You stood tall and demanded to be heard, through years when it seemed that the world would not listen.
This verdict is thanks to your determination to prevent these atrocities from ever happening again, to protect your children and grandchildren, and to give them a future.
To every person among the hundreds who bravely testified before the court, telling of the brutality they witnessed and endured, and to the thousands more whose stories we have not yet heard, we offer our deepest honor and respect.
Efrain Rios Montt did not act alone. He had an accomplice in the Reagan Administration. The US considered him an ally, not only refusing to acknowledge the massacres occurring under his regime, but offering him moral and military support. We are committed to speak out against this injustice and to demand full accountability.
We celebrate this victory, and we offer you our solidarity in the days to come. We will stand beside you and join our voices to yours in the ongoing call for justice, even across the distances that separate us.
A Message from Ana Ceto Chavez of our partner organization Muixil
*Translated from the original Spanish.
Dear women of MADRE,
I am writing to express our gratitude for the support you give to women of the world and especially to women survivors from the Ixil region. We would like congratulate the women rape survivors who testified against Rios Montt. It is not easy, because these acts violate dignity. This helps build a future without violations against women's rights. We congratulate those women who are part of Muixil.
We will continue demanding investigations against military forces that were responsible for each of these operations.
Thank you for your attention.
Ana Ceto Chavez
Archives"Press Room" Home August 2014 July 2014 June 2014 May 2014 April 2014 March 2014 February 2014 January 2014 December 2013 November 2013 October 2013 September 2013 August 2013 July 2013 June 2013 May 2013 April 2013 March 2013 February 2013 January 2013 December 2012 November 2012 October 2012 September 2012 August 2012 July 2012 June 2012 May 2012 April 2012 March 2012 February 2012 January 2012 December 2011 November 2011 October 2011 September 2011 August 2011 July 2011 June 2011 May 2011 April 2011 March 2011 February 2011 January 2011 December 2010 November 2010 October 2010 September 2010 August 2010 July 2010 June 2010 May 2010 April 2010 March 2010 February 2010 January 2010 December 2009 November 2009 October 2009 September 2009 August 2009 July 2009 June 2009 May 2009 April 2009 March 2009 February 2009 January 2009 December 2008 November 2008 October 2008 September 2008 August 2008 July 2008 June 2008 May 2008 April 2008 March 2008 February 2008 January 2008 December 2007 November 2007 October 2007 September 2007 August 2007 June 2007 May 2007 April 2007 March 2007 February 2007 January 2007 December 2006 November 2006 October 2006 September 2006 July 2006 June 2006 April 2006 March 2006 January 2006 December 2005 November 2005 September 2005 August 2005 July 2005 April 2005 March 2005 November 2004 October 2004 April 2004 March 2004 January 2004 December 2003 October 2003 September 2003 June 2003 April 2003 January 2003 September 2002 June 2002 January 2002 November 2001 October 2001 September 2001 August 2001 January 2001
MADRE & Our Partners Make News
Haitian woman faces death threats for speaking out about violence against women (WBEZ Worldview, July 16, 2014)
Media Spotlight Turns Away from Iraq, as Concerns Mount Over Human Rights and Political Stalemate (Uprising Radio, July 11, 2014)
Iraq: The women left behind (Aljazeera, July 3, 2014)
Under Isis, Iraqi women again face an old nightmare: violence and repression (The Guardian, July 3, 2014)
How Can We Protect Women From A Sexual Jihad? (HuffPost Live, June 26, 2014)