Thomas Bradley (Peru)

Thomas (T.J.) Bradley (EPAF, Peru): TJ developed a deep interest in Latin America while studying as an undergraduate at Heidelberg University. Prior to his fellowship, he. worked in Lima with the Paul Lammermeier Foundation. TJ has also interned with USAID and United States Department of State. TJ was studying at the School of International Service at American University when he undertook his AP fellowship. At American, he volunteered with the American Red Cross and served on the editorial staff of the Journal of International Service. After his fellowship, TJ wrote: “It has been an incredible learning experience for me and has left me with many friends. I feel like we have accomplished much and I look forward to seeing all that they will do in the future.”


19 Aug

She sat there with us in a small, dark room watching as cameras, recorders and notebooks were produced to cover the table. Her face was remarkably emotionless for what she was preparing to tell us. The wind blew the wooden window cover open and revealed more of her face. Yet, years of labor under the Andean sun made it difficult to tell her age.

We listened intently as she described her story to us in detail. She and a group of family members had taken goods to a nearby village to sell at market. They made the trek, sold their wares and set out for home the following day. As they stopped in a field to rest, they were accosted by a group of men; ranchers or farmers as she initially described them. They were detained by these men, questioned and ultimately led away as captives.

Ayacucho was a dangerous place in those days. There was no way to know who was who and who you could trust. It seemed Sendero Luminoso was everywhere and there was no way to know who could be trusted. She assumed this was why they were questioned and led away. Everything would be cleared up eventually and they would continue on their way home, or so she thought.

They were led away to a hut and badly beaten. The men, including her husband, were separated so they couldn’t speak with each other. It became clear once they were there that they had been taken to a kind of safe house based on the amount of provisions and other items spread around the hut. These men were Senderistas, members of Sendero Luminoso or the Shining Path.

Some days later, a group of the men that were detained were marched deeper into the barren Andean highlands. The Senderistas took her husband and brother-in-law and release everyone else. Their things are sent back with the others who are released as well. Those that had been freed returned to the village to wait for the others to return. They will never see them again. A wife and her 8 young children will never see their loved one again. Later, a woman would  tell them that she saw two men being executed in a lake up in the highlands, but there is no way to know if it was them.

Of the 8 children, 7 would never finish high school because they had to work to support the others and their mother. For some the trauma was too great and they could not continue as before. She related to us how her children still call her on Father’s Day because she was both their mother and father, as she put it.

That was December 1989. EPAF is still working to bring justice and closure to the family and all the families of the Disappeared. They seek to find the Disappeared… to find their loved ones. They want desperately to heal and to remember. The work continues. The past has not been boxed up and put away. Not here…not where it happened. Not while children don’t have a place to mourn and visit on Father’s Day.

Posted By Thomas Bradley (Peru)

Posted Aug 19th, 2014

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