On Saturday, we at GHRC had the pleasure of taking part in a powerful art installation in Washington, DC. After three years of preparation, the organization One Million Bones blanketed a section of the National Mall with bones made of various materials to bring attention to genocide committed around the world. The organizers of One Million Bones had extended a special invitation to GHRC and the Guatemala community to take part and commemorate Guatemala’s genocide victims.
GHRC staff, interns and volunteers, joined thousands of others in laying out the bones. Our group took the opportunity to read the names of the victims in the Ixil Triangle included in the charges against former generals Ríos Montt and Rodríguez Sánchez.
We posted a photo of the event on our Facebook page on Saturday afternoon, and were shocked to see the response. Our wall was covered by an energetic debate about genocide in Guatemala. It was heartwarming to see all the comments in support of justice for victims, but sad to see that there were also many comments full of hate, anger, and denial of the crimes committed against Guatemala’s indigenous people.
Unfortunately, many of the people who posted on our wall are the same people who have been spreading the same messages of hate and denial in the Guatemalan media and organizing protests in support of those who committed atrocities.
The courageous genocide survivors, along with their lawyers, the judges, and the organizations who support justice, have been victim to this type of attack constantly since the Ríos Montt trial began. The messages in the media in Guatemala are not just slander. They are threats of violence. For example, Ricardo Méndez Ruiz, founder of the Foundation Against Terrorism, who posted on our wall, said in an interview with Guatemalan TV station Guatevision that the civil society leaders pushing for justice could be assassinated. In his post on GHRC’s facebook page, he called us a “terrorist organization.”
We don’t want to hide this debate going on in Guatemalan society, but we adamantly condemn the use of defamation, threats and messages of hate. We would love to see our page covered with messages of support for justice and for the victims and survivors of genocide. Can you add your voice