Update June 2008: After many years of trials, delays, and obstruction five civil patrollers (Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil) have been found guilty in the Rio Negro massacres by a Guatemalan court. Jesus Tecu Osorio, a survivor of the massacre, and the producer of this video with WITNESS was the first to testify in the trial. Rio Negro was but one of the massacres which characterized the height of the genocidal campaign against the indigenous Maya during the 36-year Guatemalan civil war. While the verdicts and sentences are a welcome outcome after so many years, it’s important to recognize that none of the intellectual authors of the genocide, or their international enablers, have yet to be brought to justice, nor have victims and survivors seen reparation.
Update April 2008: For the first time in history, a genocide and State repression survivor gave public testimony today in a Guatemalan court about the genocide committed against Maya peoples.
Jesus Tecú Osorio, a Mayan-Achi man from the isolated rural village of Río Negro, Rabinal (department of Baja Verapaz), gave an emotional testimony to a packed courtroom, with national and international media and observers present.
With the two domestic genocide cases languishing for years in Guatemalan courts, with little to no movement (due to well entrenched impunity), the courageous witnesses are finally having their day in court, as part of the "genocide case" now being heard in Spanish courts. Twenty-nine eyewitnesses and experts are scheduled to testify between today and May 6th.
Judge Eduardo Cojulun of the 11th Criminal Court is moving forward with the testimonies in support of the ongoing genocide investigation by Spanish judge Santiago Pedraz. The presentation of testimonies will continue on Monday in Rabinal.
RT 3:47 min.
Copyright Date: 2000
Guatemala's thirty-six year civil war claimed the lives of more than 200,000 citizens and displaced millions more, many of them Mayan civilians. During the war, the Guatemalan military killed, tortured, raped and butchered hundreds of thousands of people. This WITNESS Rights Alert feature tells the story of WITNESS partner Jesus Tecu Osorio, one of the few survivors of the Rio Negro Massacre that took place on March 13, 1982. After witnessing the massacre of more than one hundred children and nearly eighty women by members of the Guatemalan army and civil patrols, Jesus and seventeen other children were taken to work as servants in the houses of the patrollers who had killed their families. Jesus lived in captivity for three years until he was freed by his only surviving sister, Laura. This Rights Alert feature tells Jesus' story and informs viewers of the movement that Osorio has spearheaded to acknowledge, commemorate, mourn and seek justice for the victims of this devastating tragedy. This piece is narrated by REM musician Michael Stipe, with music by Philip Glass.