Ash Kosiewicz

Ash Kosiewicz (Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team): Ash graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2002 with a dual degree in government and journalism. After graduation, he worked for two years as a child support officer with the Texas Office of the Attorney General. In 2004, he moved to Ecuador, where he lived for 10 months working with a local foundation in Guayaquil to raise funds for a health center project in the rural canton of Santa Lucia. Upon returning from Ecuador, he worked for two years as communicators director with Texas RioGrande Legal Aid, which provides legal aid to the poor in the United States. At the time of his fellowship, Ash was studying for a master's degree in Latin American studies from Georgetown University in Washington, DC. After his fellowship, Ash wrote: "The AP experience has given me another incredibly impactful experience in Latin America. It has given me an incredible story to tell, one that truly leaves people interested though unsure how to respond. I feel like I’ve gone through some pretty intense stuff, and I’ve come out of it stronger and more aware. I know I can handle tough environments, and work in a fast paced environment."

Reflections on Putis

09 Jun

Within 10 minutes of leaving Putis, one car in our six-car brigade broke down, delaying us an hour and a half. Before arriving to Huanta three hours later, the wheel of one of our trailers burst, leaving another group briefly stranded along a treacherous, rocky road. The normal five-hour trip to Ayacucho soon became nine hours. One person on our team ventured that the essence of what EPAF had uncovered over the previous two weeks was doing everything it could to keep us there.

My stay in Putis was a fascinating experience of vivid contrasts. The bitter cold of clear, star-filled nights and the heat of sunny afternoons. The serenity of my surroundings yet the brutality of the area´s history. Over two weeks, EPAF was physically protected from harm by the Peruvian military – the very actor responsible for the actual 1984 Putis massacre.

Have things changed? The Putis case was a breakthrough for EPAF in Peru – and the world took notice. Fox News, CNN, Reuters, MSNBC, BBC, La Republica, take your pick. But any notion of swift justice remains doubtful. Look no further than Sunday´s edition of La Republica, one of Peru´s leading newspapers. The General Commander of the Peruvian military, Edwin Donayre, in response to questions about the Putis exhumation: “Any excesses and human rights violations should be addressed in the moment and situation during which they took place. How easy it is to talk now after 20 years!”

Things have sadly not changed. Gerardo Fernandez Mendoza, the president of an association of 250 Putis relatives, claims that 360 victims remain buried in 13 separate mass graves in the Putis area. In two weeks, EPAF returns to Putis to exhume four more graves. Though the aliases of those responsible for the Putis massacre are known, the Peruvian military has consistently refused to identify the individuals stationed at the Putis military base in 1984. Without names, a legal case cannot be filed. Some within the military claim the salient files were burned and no longer exist. Though the military now articulates its refusal to release names with precision and exactitude, the entire Putis area in 1984 was indiscriminately marked by the military as “red,” asserted to be irrevocably broken by the ideological poison of the Shining Path. Everyone – men, women, and children – paid the price. That may be the starkest contrast yet.

Posted By Ash Kosiewicz

Posted Jun 9th, 2008


  • Holly

    June 10, 2008


    Nice concluding comments. I’m astounded that Donayre could and would make such a statement. EPAF’s work could never have been achieved in the heat of conflict. I would like to ask Sr. Donayre one question: How long must time elapse before impunity sets in? 1 year, 2 years, 3 months?

  • Cesar Saenz Luyo

    June 25, 2008


    Son 24 años de esperar JUSTICIA sobre los sucesos en Putis y en otros poblados como en Pichanaki y en zonas de Huancavelica. La IMPUNIDAD es un veneno que ha tomado posicion en la historia de nuestro país y que, lamentablemente, afecta a generaciones que van creciendo con ese sentimiento amargo de ver que NO EXISTE UN REAL SISTEMA DE JUSTICIA. Mientras tanto cientos de cuerpos son removidos en exhumaciones, que conmocionan al mundo y las familias que aún viven siguen clamando JUSTICIA.

    Translation: 24 years have gone by waiting for justice over what happened in Putis and in other areas like Pichanaki and the areas of Huancavelica. Impunity is a poison that has taken hold in the history of our country, and that, unfortunately, affects generations that are growing with the bitter feelings of seeing that there is not a real justice system in Peru. At the same time hundreds of bodies are being exhumed from the ground, which emotionally moves the entire world and the families still live demanding justice.

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