The petitioners described the massacre that occurred in the village of Chichupac on January 8, 1982, where 32 persons were tortured and murdered. They also recounted violent acts committed between August 1981 and December 1986, which included extrajudicial executions, torture, forced disappearances, rapes, failures to provide aid and assistance, unlawful detentions and forced labor, all to the detriment of the members of the village of Chichupac and neighboring communities.
According to the petitioners, all the acts were committed as part of a national policy of persecution and extermination being waged by the Guatemalan State and carried out by the National Army at the direction of various military governments against the members of the mayan indigenous peoples. They emphasized that the modus operandi of the members of the National Army and their collaborators was the same one used during the commission of other massacres elsewhere in the country. The practice was to assemble the victims in a confined space, then torture and murder them with machetes or by cutting their throats or shooting them. Women were raped and then forced to cook for the soldiers. Finally, the petitioners observed that the policy was also to pillage the communities, burn them down, then set up “model villages” where members of the communities could be kept under the State’s control.
The petitioners pointed out that the policy was replicated against the Maya Achí population of the municipality of Rabinal, Department of Baja Verapaz, who were accused of collaborating with or belonging to the guerrilla movement.
The specifics of the facts and domestic inquiries will be addressed in the Commission’s examination of the facts and are based on the information supplied by both parties. This section is a summation of the main legal arguments put forward by the petitioners.
The petitioners acknowledged the State’s acceptance of international responsibility. With regard to the January 8, 1982 massacre, they alleged that the State violated the right to life of the alleged victims who were murdered. The petitioners argued that by being arbitrarily deprived of their lives, the alleged victims’ right to honor and dignity was also violated. The petitioners further maintained that the alleged victims’ right to humane treatment was violated because they were subjected to torture while inside the Chichupac community health center, where they had been assembled. The petitioners also pointed out that the alleged victims endured terrible pain and suffering because they were tortured before being murdered. Their contention was that the State violated the alleged victims’ right to personal liberty by unlawfully and arbitrarily detaining them inside the health center for at least six hours.
The petitioners also argued that the right to life was also violated in the case of the victims whom they allege were executed and disappeared in events that transpired between 1981 and 1986. They added that the State also violated the right to humane treatment in the case of the victims alleged to have been tortured, disappeared and/or raped.
As for the right to freedom of conscience and religion, the petitioners argued that the facts alleged destroyed the social fabric of the village of Chichupac and the neighboring communities. They underscored that the alleged victims and their next of kin were unable to practice their religion and beliefs, either individually or collectively, owing to persecution and fear. They also noted that because they lived under military control at the model village of “La Colonia,” which the military set up in 1984, the Maya Achí were unable to practice their Mayan spiritualism and beliefs. The petitioners’ contention was that the alleged victims lost their cultural identity and community dynamics as a result.
As for freedom of association, the petitioners maintained that starting in late 1981, the members of the village of Chichupac and the hamlet of Xeabaj were forced to take part in the civil self-defense patrols (hereinafter the “PAC”) and stressed the fact that if they refused to join the patrol, they were persecuted, executed or disappeared and accused of being members of the guerrilla movement.
As for the rights of the family, the petitioners argued that the State failed to comply with its duty to protect the families in the villages. They maintained that quite the contrary, the lives of the communities’ inhabitants were not respected.
As for the right to privacy, the petitioners maintained that the State robbed the alleged victims of their property when it burned down their homes, cut down and destroyed their crops and stole their livestock and other animals. As for the right to equal protection, the petitioners argued that the facts alleged presuppose discrimination against indigenous persons.
The petitioners also alleged that the State violated the rights to judicial guarantees and to judicial protection. They claimed that although complaints were filed concerning the facts alleged in the petition, which involved giving depositions and filing applications with the Rabinal Municipal Civil Registrar for copies of birth and death certificates, no evidence of any activity on those complaints is apparent. The petitioners also pointed out that little has been done to establish what happened and identify the intellectual and material authors, even though information is reportedly available.
The petitioners maintained that the denial of justice has continued to this day, which means that as yet no one has been made to answer for these alleged violations. They noted that the delay in the proceedings is a continuing violation and takes a severe toll on the alleged victims and their next of kin.
The petitioners reported that the alleged victims and their next of kin live in poverty and continue to suffer psychological aftereffects, as they are still being threatened and intimidated by former “judiciales” and former members of the PAC, who still live in the same communities within the municipality of Rabinal.
The petitioners maintained that the financial payments made under the National Reparations Program (hereinafter “the PNR”) are not decent, just and full reparations, compensation or restitution for i) the pecuniary damages caused to the communities; ii) the psychological and moral pain and suffering that the victims’ next of kin continue to endure; and iii) the non-pecuniary damages to the spirituality and culture caused by their being severed from their Maya Achí culture. The petitioners maintained that the procedure involved for the PNR is slow and irregular.
The petitioners stated that of all the alleged victims, only eight relatives had reportedly applied for compensation from the PNR and that the amounts received do not adequately compensate for all the violations committed; furthermore, not every victim entitled to compensation is receiving it. They added that the way in which the PNR is compensating people is causing further division and anguish among family members and within the communities. Here, they pointed out that in a number of cases, consanguineous siblings are precluded from any economic compensation for violations committed against their parents. They also noted that the PNR excludes some alleged victims whose names appear in the databases of the former PAC. They observed that family members of such persons have also been denied compensation by the Ex-PAC Assistance Office.
Lastly, they noted that the State refused to rebuild the more than one hundred housing units destroyed in Chichupac, Xeabaj and neighboring communities. They asserted that the State built only 31 units, ten of which belong to family members of alleged victims; this has caused tension in the communities between those whose homes were rebuilt and those who got nothing.