Wednesday, July 6, 2011

HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS FILE TORTURE COMPLAINT WITH UN SPECIAL RAPPORTEUR AGAINST GUATEMALAN PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE GENERAL OTTO PEREZ MOLINA

Today, June 28, 20011, three human rights defenders presented a formal report of torture, or “Allegation Letter”, to Professor Juan Mendez, the United Nations Special Rapporteur on Torture. The letter alleges that General Otto Perez Molina, now a leading presidential candidate in Guatemala, was directly involved in the systematic use of torture and acts of genocide during the long civil war in Guatemala. Specifically, he was on the ground and in command in the Ixil triangle in 1982 during the village by village massacre campaign, and he was directly responsible for the long term torture and disappearance of prisoner of war Efrain Bamaca Velasquez. Protesters in Washington D.C. recently demanded the cancelation of his visa to the United States.

The report is accompanied by 1982 film footage[1] showing the then- Major Perez Molina being interviewed by journalist Allan Nairn in the Ixil triangle. The battered bodies of several prisoners lie nearby on the ground. Although Perez Molina was using a different name, he is identifiable by his voice and features. He is also well remembered in the Ixil . The video may be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/verify_age?next_url=http%3A//www.youtube.com/watch%3Fv%3DIEN9OBmLdcE. According to the U.N. sponsored Truth Commission report, “Memoria de Silencio”, the army carried out daily acts of torture, genocide and terror in the Ixil region, and razed between 70 and 90% of the villages there. Perez Molina currently presents himself as a reformist and “peace candidate for peace”.

Otto Perez Molina was also the National Director of military intelligence (D-2) on March 12, 1992, when Efrain Bamaca, a Mayan resistance leader, was captured alive and taken to the Santa Ana Berlin military base. According to evidence cited in the Allegation Letter, a high level intelligence meeting was held at the same base that day, and the officers decided to subject Bamaca to a secret intelligence program for valuable prisoners of war. This consisted of long term torture in order to break the prisoner psychologically and force him or her to collaborate with the D-2 forces. Bamaca was severely tortured for more than 2 years: always in D-2 compounds, under orders of the D-2, and by D-2 specialists. He was also transported throughout the country by the D-2, and twice detained by a secret D-2 death squad based in the Capital at the notorious “La Isla”. The letter alleges that Perez Molina was the key intellectual author of this and similar war crimes cases. U.S. declassified documents confirm that the D-2 systematically tortured all prisoners of war, then either executed them or forced them to collaborate. In 1993 the CIA reported 300 such prisoners . See attached memorandum re Bamaca case.

The Allegation Letter requests an investigation into General Perez Molina’s responsibility for such war crimes, and was presented by the following human rights defenders: Annie Bird, Co- Director, Rights Action, annie@rightsaction.org 202-680-3002, Jennifer K. Harbury, Human Rights Attorney, jharbury@gmail.com 512-751-5852Kelsey A. Jones, Director, Guatemala Human Rights Commission-USA, kajones@ghrc-usa.org 202-529-6599