Residents of the village of chichupac and neighboring communities, municipality of rabinal

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1.2.5. Violence against children

  1. As for the situation of children amid the armed conflict in Guatemala, the CEH wrote the following:

[…] The CEH has confirmed with particular concern that a large number of children were also among the direct victims of arbitrary execution, forced disappearance, torture, rape and other violations of their fundamental rights. Moreover, the armed confrontation left a large number of children orphaned and abandoned, especially among the Mayan population, who saw their families destroyed and the possibility of living a normal childhood within the norms of their culture, lost.42

  1. The Commission, too, believed that children were more vulnerable to violations because they did not understand the danger and the mechanics of violence and were deeply affected by the loss of security, trust and the care that they needed for normal growth and development.43

  1. For its part, in 2000 the Archdiocese of Guatemala’s Human Rights Office (hereinafter “the ODHAG”) published a study on children who disappeared during the internal armed conflict, in which it estimated that more than 400 children had been forcibly disappeared.44

  1. Some children survived the massacres when members of patrols, soldiers or military commissioners decided to take them to their own homes. As the CEH documented:

[…] in the wake of the massacres or scorched-earth operations, many children who were by then able to take care of themselves were taken by military personnel, military commissioners or patrollers to serve as servants in their own homes or in the homes of other families. Some of these children were systematically exploited and abused. Others were taken into homes where they grew up. Still others were unaware that they were not members of the family with which they lived or still live.45

1.2.6. Violence against women

  1. The CEH concluded that women accounted for roughly one fourth of the immediate victims of the human rights violations committed during the conflict.46 Likewise, the report of the Archdiocese of Guatemala’s Recovery of Historical Memory Project and the CEH’s own report document the way in which women were insulted and dehumanized, terrorized and tortured, raped, forcibly disappeared and massacred by agents of the State, almost always soldiers and civil self-defense patrol members.47

  1. The CEH concluded that sexual violence against women was a widespread and systematic practice within the Army’s counterinsurgency strategy and one of the more specific manifestations of gender violence committed during the internal armed conflict in Guatemala.48 Thus, for example, in 99% of the 1465 cases of rape registered by the CEH, the victim was a woman.49 Likewise, the women who survived had to cope with the physical and psychological aftereffects, including the stigma associated with rape.50

  1. The CEH found that rape was part of a pattern of behavior in massacres; women were raped before being killed. The CEH concluded that:

[i]n general, individual or selective rapes occurred when the victims were detained and were often followed by the victim’s death or disappearance. The massive or indiscriminate and public rapes occurred in areas with a large indigenous population, and became common practice once military outposts and the PAC moved in, occurring as a preliminary to a massacre or as part of scorched-earth operations. Pregnant women were also killed and their fetuses destroyed.51

1.2.7. Genocide

  1. Given the context described above, the CEH concluded that in the counterinsurgency operations conducted between 1981 and 1983, agents of the Guatemalan State committed acts of genocide against groups among the Mayan people, including the Maya-Achí in the municipality of Rabinal. In this connection the CEH found that:

In 1981 and 1982, there were reports of Army specialists who were natives of Sacapulas and other municipalities in Quiché and who had access to the command personnel at military base number 20 in Santa Cruz del Quiché (…) concerning an order that the first and second commanders had issued to kill all indigenous persons. Some pilots and members of the commanding officers’ security details took their families out of Quiché to protect them, since the order was real.52 

  1. The CEH’s finding was based on evidence that, under the provisions of Article II of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide, showed that i) members of Mayan groups had been killed; ii) serious bodily or mental harm had been done to members of the groups, and iii) living conditions had been deliberately inflicted on the group calculated to bring about their physical destruction in whole or in part. The CEH’s conclusion is also based on the evidence that all these acts were committed "with intent to destroy, in whole or in part" groups identified by their common ethnicity, by reason thereof, whatever the cause, motive or final objective of these acts may have been.”53

2. Situation of the village of Chichupac and neighboring communities during the armed conflict

  1. The village of Chichupac is in the municipality of Rabinal, 14 kilometers from its municipal seat.54 The municipality of Rabinal is one of the eight municipalities in the department of Baja Verapaz, located in the central sector of the Guatemalan State.55 Rabinal consists of an urban center or municipal seat, 14 villages and sixty hamlets,56 including the village of Chichupac and the neighboring communities (Xeabaj, Chijom, Coyojá, El Tablón, Toloxcoc and El Apazote).

  1. In 1981, the municipality of Rabinal had 22,730 inhabitants, 82% of whom were Maya-Achí.57 Their subsistence activities included farming and planting. The indigenous people in that area speak the Achí language and have their own vision of the cosmos and spirituality, which is reflected through customs having to do with dress, dance, music and the rites practice to honor their dead.58

  1. In the 1970s, the municipality of Rabinal was not a combat area. The CEH recorded that there was some guerrilla propaganda activity and that the region was used as a staging point for logistical supplies, recruitment of personnel or as a rearguard.59 The CEH concluded that because of Rabinal’s strategic location, the State believed that “it needed to be placed under complete control.”60

  1. According to the CEH’s sources, this explains why the level of violence was so high in the municipality of Rabinal during the armed conflict.61 The CEH found that “a military outpost was operating” within the Rabinal region; its commanders “were behind almost all the human rights violations attributable to State agents.”62 Furthermore according to the testimony of people who had lived in the region since 1981, the military forced the residents of the village of Chichupac and the neighboring communities to participate in the PAC.63

  1. The CEH registered 20 massacres within the Rabinal region. Nevertheless, one witness claimed that “not one village escaped the massacres.”64 The CEH also documented the fact that in the period between 1981 and 1983, 4,411 persons from the municipality of Rabinal were murdered; all were civilians, and 99.8% were members of the Maya-Achí.65 The CEH concluded that “the savagery with which the area was attacked supports the thesis that the Army regarded it as a strategic area and, at the time of the conflict, identified the region’s population as ‘the enemy within’.”66

2.1.1. The massacre of January 8, 1982

  1. According to the information reported by family members of the alleged victims, on January 8, 1982 members of the Guatemalan Army assembled the residents of the village of Chichupac for a meeting at the community health center, supposedly for the purpose of distributing medicine and gifts.67 One witness maintained that the order was that “no one should stay home.”68

  1. The military commissioners ordered the members of the PAC to decorate the entrance to the community and to “create a festive atmosphere.”69 The people of the village who were at home were taken to the health center by Army personnel. In this way, they managed to assemble around 300 villagers inside the health center.70

  1. At around 9:00 a.m., about a hundred National Army soldiers arrived aboard a truck, dressed in camouflage green uniforms and carrying rifles.71 The soldiers were accompanied by a group of “judiciales”.72 When they entered the health center, they began distributing toys to the children.73 One witness testified that they were given plastic balls, a plastic car and doll parts.74

  1. Then, the officer in command of the troop ordered the women to return home.75 According to the REMHI, the soldiers then ordered the men to line up and show their identification cards.76 The names of 32 men were selected from a list that the “judiciales” had in their possession;77 the 32 included catechists, health promoters and community leaders from the villages of Chichupac, Xeabaj, Coyojá, El Tablón and Chijom.78

  1. The soldiers ordered the other men to go back to their homes. They were told “not to stick their noses in anything” or they might meet the same fate as the group of men selected.79 Two witnesses said that the military ordered them “not to get mixed up in anything; otherwise their asses would get broken just as the men who were left inside [the health center].”80 They also reported that the Chichupac PAC members were ordered to go home and pick up their “jackets and sticks” and get back to the business of “patrolling the perimeter of the health center, an order they had to obey.”81 According to the REHMI, the soldiers had a tank in position in case someone tried to escape. 82

  1. The men who remained behind in the health center were accused of being members of the guerrilla movement and were tortured for a number of hours.83 One witness said that “the Chichupac men were tortured in the health center (…) we heard them screaming.”84 At around 4:00 p.m., the PAC from the village of Chichupac saw the National Army soldiers leave with the alleged victims, whose hands were tied.85

  1. The Army soldiers ordered the alleged victims to walk in the direction of the village’s highest point.86 One individual, Félix Alvarado Xitumul, fainted as he was walking and died.87 Once they reached the highest point in the village, all the men were murdered. Some were strangled, while others were shot.88

  1. The soldiers dug two graves where they buried the bodies. Because the graves were so shallow, some human remains were visible on the surface.89

  1. These events were documented by the CEH, which maintained that “it can be said with certainty that the persons killed in the […] massacre[…] committed on[…] January 8, 1982 in the community of Chichupac […] did not die fighting; instead, the forensic evidence shows that they were cruelly exterminated and given no chance to defend themselves.”90 The CEH documented what happened as “the Chichupac massacre.”91 REMHI also classified the events on January 8, 1982 as a massacre in which the National Army and its collaborators participated.92

  1. The names of the victims who died are as follows: 1) Víctor Juárez Pangan (or Víctor Juárez Pancan), 2) Clemente Juárez Ixpancoc, 3) Cruz Sic Cuxum (or Cruz Sic Cuxún), 4) Pedro Sic Jerónimo, 5) Gregorio Valey, 6) Timoteo Sic Cujá, 7) Roberto Galiego Chén, 8) Antonio Alvarado González, 9) Alfonso Crúz Juárez, 10) Domingo Cahuec Sic, 11) Santiago Alvarado Xitumul, 12) Agustín Juárez Ixpancoc, 13) Teodoro González Xitumul, 14) Eulogio Morales Alvarado, 15) Luciano González (or Luciano Gonzalez Sis or Lucio Gonzalez Sis), 16) Apolinario Juárez Pérez, 17) Alberto Juarez Perez, 18) Evaristo Siana, 19) Pedro Tum (or Pedro Pérez Ampérez), 20) Emigdio Siana Ixtecoc, 21) Pedro Galiego López, 22) Demetrio Chen Alvarado, 23) Pedro Galiego Mendoza, 24) Camilo Juárez Valey, 25) Julián Garniga López, 26) Benito Juárez Ixpancoc, 27) Francisco Depaz, 28) Maximiliano Sis Valey, 29) Vicente Sic Osorio, 30) Patrocinio Galiego, 31) Félix Alvarado Xitumul, and 32) José Demetrio Cahuec Jerónimo.

  1. The day after the massacre, the Army soldiers forced the PAC to clean up the health center, which was covered with blood and human remains.93 The men from the village of Chichupac also climbed to the summit, where they found the graves. They proceeded to dig a third grave where they buried those remains that had been exposed to the elements.94 One witness said that he saw “a large pile of sticks and (…) evidence that they were not shot to death but strangled with a tourniquet.” 95 Another witness maintained that “one could see their hands and sides.”96 According to the petitioners, the families were afraid to do anything; they were afraid to have the kind of burial that would ensure that loved ones were “properly laid to rest.” 97

2.1.2 The situation of the Chichupac villagers subsequent to the massacre

  1. Witnesses state that subsequent to the massacre, the Army soldiers went to the village of Chichupac almost every day to chase and rape women and kill villagers.98 The statements tell of how the Army soldiers burned homes, destroyed crops and stole domestic animals and objects of value. The REMHI documented survivors’ statements:

They took our things, our hens, our cattle. Eight days after leaving, they pillaged our property and set it on fire. They stole coffee, candy, a bed, furnishings, animals; they didn’t leave a thing standing. The daughter they had killed no longer had any clothes. They stole twelve newly calved cows; they destroyed my cooking pot and my sugarcane press; they set fire to three houses. They began carrying of our new clothing, hens and cattle; they ate it near the clinic. They stole one of my fattened cows; they skinned the cow and the soldiers and civil self-defense patrollers ate it. They cut down our cornfield, bananas and sugar cane; they stole fabric, sashes, clothing, hoes and machetes99.

  1. The CEH also found that in the wake of the Chichupac massacre, “the Army returned to continue the destruction.” It reported that one member of the PAC asserted that:

My second assignment was to throw away the corn and cane crops of the people who went to the mountains, Chichupac (…). The Army said to take everything; that it was for them; some took advantage, but others said: “poor people”. If they found people, they left them there dead.100

  1. Some survivors from the village had to flee to the mountains for safe haven. Others moved to different cities.101 One woman from the village said that “the village was virtually destroyed and the people who left Chichupac didn’t want to abandon their homes and land but left all the same (…) during the period of violence everything was destroyed, even their houses.”102

  1. The petitioners said that in 1984, the National Army set up a model village in Chichupac, which they called “La Colonia”. Their contention was that the people were forced to live there, and that the place was under heavy military control, with around 300 soldiers posted there. Testimony indicates that the women in the model village were forced to cook for the soldiers.103

  1. The file for this case contains September 2008 communications in which the then Constitutional President of the Republic, Álvaro Colom Caballeros, stated that “on behalf of the Guatemalan State (…) we beg pardon for the anguish and pain caused during the internal armed conflict.”104 The Commission observes that the communication was addressed to Elena Valey, Juan Juarez Ixpatá and Iginia Chen Valey, relatives of some of the alleged victims of the events that occurred on January 8, 1982.

  1. The Commission also notes that one of the petitioners’ communications came with an attachment containing a document dated May 5, 2010, prepared by a psychologist specialized in mental health and human rights, Nieves Gómez. The document was titled “Report on the harm done to the mental (moral) health of the inhabitants of the Maya Achí indigenous communities of Chichupac, Xeabaj and other nearby communities in the municipality of Rabinal, department of Baja Verapaz.”105 The specialist discussed the aftereffects caused by the events of January 8, 1982 and other events alleged by the petitioners and that are part of the established facts.106 She wrote that as a member of the Team for Community Studies and Psycho-Social Action – ECAP, interviews and meetings had been held with various persons from the village of Chichupac and other communities since 2004.107

  1. She maintained that the community of Chichupac “was totally destroyed.” As a result, the inhabitants were compelled to move to the mountains and other municipalities and were only able to return and rebuild their community in 1985.108

  1. The specialist also indicated that it was not until 1985 that people began to return to the community. With the help of the Family Integration Center, Father Melchor of the Rabinal church, and some male community leaders who managed to survive the massacre, the people [were] able to rebuild their community.109 She also maintained that the communities of Xeabaj, Toloxcoc and Chirrum “never managed to attract their leaders back to rebuild their production plans, as they live elsewhere now.”110

  1. The specialist maintained that cultural practices were severely affected “by the exclusion of and stigma attached to the Maya-Achí” in the years that followed the events in the present case.111 She stated that during those years, “the people abandoned their prayers for the earth, rain, the harvest, health, or for the dead and their communion with their ancestors.”112 She added that “cultural practices are also being abandoned among those who were permanently uprooted to other municipalities and among young people, who grew up away from their ancestral lands and embraced new identities.”113

  1. The specialist reported that the people “lived in an ever-present climate of fear, insecurity and tension from the day of the January 8, 1982 massacre until 1985, when the situation began to calm down.”114 She pointed out that the exhumation and burial of their loved ones was done “in a climate of mistrust and fear.”115

  1. She observed that “the mental and physical health of the people was severely harmed (…) between the time of the massacre and up to the present, health has been almost entirely neglected (…) because of the events that individuals survived, such as physical torture, sexual torture, forced displacement to the mountains and psychosomatic illnesses.”116

  1. She concluded that “the absence of any State response over all these years has re-victimized the victims and their family members, who suffer exclusion, discrimination, stigmatization, and labeling. To make matters worse, they have had to invest their time in demonstrating the truth about what happened, with the result that the burden of proof has been reversed and has fallen upon the victims, preventing them from embarking upon a new life plan. Their family and community life has suffered as a result.” 117

2.2. Other events that occurred in the village of Chichupac and neighboring communities between 1981 and 1986
2.2.1. The execution of Mateo Grave, Juan Alvarado Grave and Pedro Depáz Ciprian (or Pedro de Paz Cipriano), and the disappearance of Pedro Siana between August 23 and 24, 1981

  1. The case file includes testimony recounting three executions and one disappearance that occurred between August 23 and 24, 1981.

  1. On August 23, 1981, Mr. Mateo Grave learned that his brother, Juan Alvarado Grave, was murdered by a group of judiciales that same day.118 He decided to head to the hospital at Salamá, Baja Verapaz, to locate his brother’s body. Along the way, Mr. Mateo Grave was detained by a group of ten judiciales, somewhere between the summit of Rabinal and the municipality of San Miguel Chicaj.119

  1. On August 24, 1981, Mr. Grave died from “bullet wounds to the skull, neck, thorax, cerebral hemorrhage and attrition, multiple fractures to the head.”120 Mr. Pedro Depáz Ciprian (or Pedro de Paz Cipriano) was killed together with Mr. Grave.121 Mr. Pedro Siana was also taken into custody by soldiers and his whereabouts is still unknown.122 According to the statement given by Juana García Depaz, when she noticed the absence of her husband, Mateo Grave, she went to the justice of the peace and the National Police in Rabinal, the municipal seat. Thereafter, she learned that her husband’s body was at the Hospital Nacional de Salamá, identified as ‘XXX’.123

  1. Mrs. Juana García Depaz stated that when she arrived at the hospital, “she was threatened and harassed by three drunken judiciales.” She added that by order of the justice of the peace of the municipality of San Miguel Chicaj, Baja Verapaz, Mr. Grave’s body was buried in the cemetery of San Salamá, Baja Verapaz.124

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