From the Worldwide Faith News archives

[PCUSANEWS] Peru network asks for prayers on eve of 'truth and

Date Wed, 20 Aug 2003 16:36:50 -0500

Note #7887 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:

Peru network asks for prayers on eve of 'truth and reconciliation' report
August 20, 2003

Peru network asks for prayers on eve of 'truth and reconciliation' report

Explosive report details 20 years of violence

By Jerry L. Van Marter

LOUISVILLE - Presbyterian Church (USA) missionaries and church partners in
Peru have asked U.S. Presbyterians to pray for Peru as its government
struggles to figure out how and when to release a report detailing 20 years
of violence during the country's recent dictatorship.

Numerous Peruvian Protestant and Catholic Church groups - including the
Joining Hands Against Poverty (JHAP) network, a partnership between the
PC(USA) and its partners in Peru - are organizing prayer vigils this week "to
testify to the truth" as the Sept. 2 release of the Final Report of the Truth
and Reconciliation Commission nears.

The Commission was established in 2001 by presidential decree to investigate
and assign responsibility for the more than 60,000 persons killed and 7,000
disappeared between 1980 and 2000. The violence largely ceased when former
President Alberto Fujimori fled the country in 2000.

According to PC(USA) mission co-worker Hunter Farrell, the vast majority of
the victims were Peru's poorest, most disenfranchised citizens. More than
two-thirds of the victims were from its indigenous population from the
Quechua-speaking central Andes region (Ayacucho, Huancavelica, Apurimac and
Junin) and many others were from the Ashaninka and other Amazon basin people

"It is these groups in particular who have continued to ask, quietly but
insistently, that their husbands and sons and mothers and friends be
accounted for," Farrell said. "Our Network is working to accompany these
groups in their search for the truth of what happened to their loved ones."

JHAP national coordinator Conrado Olivera said "numerous groups are actively
attempting to suppress the report because it assigns explicit responsibility
to the terrorist groups which killed the majority of victims, as well as to
the Peruvian Armed Forces, which responded to the terrorist threat at times
using excessive force."

The prayer vigils have been organized in response to President Alejandro
Toledo's suggestion that the report's publication may need to be postponed
for a time while the government figures out how to defuse possible violent
reactions to it.

By all accounts, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission has amassed an
extraordinary amount of information since it began its work in late 2001. It
has conducted numerous public hearings and workshops, collected 16,885
testimonies, analyzed human rights violations, initiated a campaign on
disappeared persons and advanced significantly towards understanding the
causes of the violence and formulating ideas for reparations and
institutional reforms.

"The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has worked diligently to address its
mandate," Olivera said. "We applaud the work of the Truth and Reconciliation
Commission and the Peruvian government's commitment to accept its
recommendations as binding. Sadly, there are some political parties who had
governmental responsibilities during the period of 1980-2000, fearful of the
report that the Commission will present to the nation. They are attacking the
Commission. The same happens with some media linked to the former regime."

"We are asking all Presbyterians to pray for the thousands of families who
lost loved ones, that they might experience the grace of forgiveness and
reconciliation," Farrell said, "and for the decision-makers, that they might
stand up for justice despite the remarkable pressure of the moment."

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