So what happened in Putis?
In a civil war that saw both sides of the conflict engage in horrific acts, Putis is one of the most tragic events to befall Quechua-speaking indigenous peoples during the war. To enlist the support of the poor, the Shining Path often engaged in forced displacement of people in rural areas across Ayacucho. Called “comites populares” (“popular committees”), groups of predominantly indigenous peoples were forced to leave their homes and obligated by the Shining Path to serve them – cooking, cleaning, etc. The objective was to evade the Peruvian military and collect a “mass” of people that the Shining Path would make lead their contingent when traveling to protect the Shining Path leaders that followed behind.
[youtube]dFR3fZoVV7E[/youtube] In the case of Putis, the Shining Path went to a handful of surrounding communities near Putis and displaced hundreds of Quechua-speaking peoples by pushing them up higher into the mountains. When the Peruvian military set up a base near Putis in September 1984, they started searching for “senderistas,” or followers of the Shining Path. When the Shining Path learned of the army’s activities, they abandoned the people they had displaced. The army arrived, promising to provide safe refuge to the people if they returned to Putis. Dividing the group into two groups, the military brought one group of 123 people back to Putis. When everyone arrived, the military asked some to dig what they were told would be a community pond. Once the pit was dug, the military had approximately 60-70 people enter the pit, and all were killed by gunfire for being suspected senderistas – men, women, and a staggering number of children, some as young as one year old. The rest were killed in nearby locations – some infront of a church altar, others within two classrooms in a community school.
Watch EPAF´s discovery of shell casings near the grave and the arrival of families to the grave site …
Posted By Ash Kosiewicz
Posted Jun 4th, 2008