Saturday, April 10, 2010
For Restorative Justice
For three days the International Tribunal for Restorative Justice in El Salvador has been meeting at the Centro Arte para la Paz and hearing from survivors and family members some of the terrible stories from El Salvador's Civil War years. The Tribunal, a project of the Institute for Human Rights of the UCA (IDHUCA of the University of Central America), has two judges from Spain, two from Brazil, and two from El Salvador.
This year they heard wrenching testimony about the Copapayo Massacre, told by one of the few survivors, Rogelio Miranda, who was 10 at the time of the massacre that took the lives of most of his family. They heard about the death of Christian Democrat and human rights activist Mario Zamora Rivas, from his wife, Aronette Diaz. Zamora was assassinated in the family home just a month before the killing of Monseñor Romero. They heard from daughters and sons of other victims, and at times the judges wept and begged pardon of those giving testimony.
This Tribunal for Restorative Justice is an annual event, now in its second year, begins a work that has long been needed in El Salvador: the work of hearing and recording some part of the tragic history of El Salvador's Civil War years. In part because an amnesty was granted to all participants in the war with the Peace Accords of 1993, there has never been a full examination or accounting of the many massacres and murders - the estimate is that more than 70,000 people died or were disappeared - between 1977 and 1993. The Tribunal begins that work.
One of the gifts of the Salvadoran people is knowing that even their tragedies require celebrations, so this heart-wrenching tribunal (if you read Spanish, you can read a fuller account here) ended in the Festival of Truth and Justice, celebrated this year on the Plaza Central, with a beautiful prayer service and an evening of music. The festival began with a lively group of girl drummers and dancers from the community of Guillermo Ungo and it's still going on.
Three photos from the tribunal and the celebration: the first is of Dra. Aronette Diaz testifying about the death of her husband, Mario Zamoa; the second shows a banner created by the Concertacion de Mujeres of Suchitoto with the names of women from Suchitoto who lost their lives during the war; and the festival photo is of the girl drummers.