“Collective amnesia is no solution…” “Until we understand the past, we can’t build the future.”
(Journalist who covered the conflict in Northern Ireland speaking about transitional justice and unresolved cases involving state violence)
This quote could be applied to many societies that are struggling to deal with the past and build a new future, but it has special significance here in Peru. Collective amnesia is a good way to describe the situation relating to a conflict that saw serious violence less than 15 years ago and has not been serious or comprehensively addressed. You´ll struggle to find a classroom or a history book that covers the topic or a teacher that discusses it more than mentioning its existence in passing.
EPAF seeks to redress this with its “Rutas de la Memoria” which take place on Saturdays and will run until November. These routes take place in Lima and the surrounding zone and consist of a morning and afternoon with a few EPAF staff that accompany the group to various sites that have some significance from the conflict. These events are open to the public and typically consist of high school and college students.
Last Saturday, EPAF went to several sites in the east and south of Lima with a group of students from a local high school. They visited a statue dedicated to Maria Elena Moyano, a female human rights activist who organized the women of her neighborhood and led community-based initiatives for many years. She was killed by the Shining Path as a threat to their local control as they moved into Lima in the early 90´s to extend its campaign to the capital. Her brutal death did much to galvanize the people of the area and public revulsion at her killing hurt the efforts of the Shining Path to establish a foothold.
EPAF also spoke about the Tarata bombing in the heart of Miraflores which led to the murder of 9 students and 1 teacher in the following days as an overreaction by the government. EPAF´s guests were taken to the site of the bombing where 25 people were tragically killed and told about the government´s attempts to justify the work of their death squads with the horror of the bombing.
While this is a small glimpse into an ongoing project by EPAF, it is an important effort that keeps the discourse fresh and provokes questions and discussion that is necessary in any post-conflict society. One student wrote one the survey that they had no idea these things happened in Peru and could not understand why more people did not know about these events. To build the future we must come to grips with the past, not for vengeance, but for peace and the future and so that it may never happen again.
Posted By Thomas Bradley (Peru)
Posted Oct 3rd, 2014