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."

The Fujimori Trial and Human Rights

16 Jun

Pick a street light. Look at the taped signs.

“Fujimori innocent! He saved Peru from chaos and destruction. Freedom for Fujimori!”

“Fujimori, the grand Peacemaker! His government captured Abimael Guzman Reynoso and Victor Polay Campos, the leaders of the Shining Path and the Revolutionary Movement of Tupac Amaru. Both unhurt without a scratch. Putting an end to the terror. Bringing peace back to the country.”

Pockets of “fujimoristas,” or those loyal to former Peruvian President Alberto K. Fujimori, still exist.

Just two years into Fujimori´s 10-year stint as president (1990-2000), the leader of the Shining Path – Abimael Guzman Reynoso – was captured. Guzman´s capture essentially crippled the violent insurgent movement. According to the Journal of Politics, opinion polls ranked “the defeat of terrorism” as the second most important reason for Fujimori´s re-election in 1995. When he won again in 2000, the justification ranked first.

But in the months leading up to his election in 2000, Fujimori faced a growing chorus of dissenting voices decrying corruption within the highest ranks of his government. The controversy climaxed in September 2000, when videotapes surfaced showing one of his most closest advisors – Vladimiro Montesinos – bribing politicians from the opposition to support Fujimori. Montesinos fled to Venezuela. Fujimori fled to Japan.

Almost eight years later, Fujimori stands trial. He faces charges of corruption and human rights violations, including alleged command responsibility for the actions of the Colina death squad. Colina, formed during Fujimori´s era to eliminate the Shining Path, is responsible for two massacres – Barrios Altos in 1991 and La Cantuta in 1992. Fujimori claims to have known nothing about Colina, an independent group with connections to the Peruvian military. Former members of the military and Colina say otherwise. On Wednesday, Montesinos will give his much-awaited testimony before the Fujimori tribunal. Previous witnesses have claimed Montesinos informed Fujimori about Colina´s actions.

What does the Fujimori trial mean for human rights in Peru? If Fujimori is convicted, will this lead to further investigations into the actions of the military under former presidents Fernando Belaunde Terry (1980-1985) and Alan Garcia (1985-1990, 2006-present)? Is there political will in Peru to seek justice on behalf of those innocently killed? Have Peru´s political parties, like APRA under Garcia, taken responsibility for the excesses of the military? Starting today, I will examine these issues through interviews of professionals working within the human rights field in Peru. The following interview is the first of what I hope to be periodic interviews on the topic, placing EPAF´s work in a richer context.

Meet Jaime Urrutia Ceruti. Urrutia´s life was changed forever by the civil war, an experience that informed his later work with the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission. His life in danger, Urrutia fled to France before returning to Peru. Part I examines the impact of the civil war on Urrutia´s life. Part II examines his opinions regarding the potential impact of the Fujimori trial.

Question: For my next interview, what should I ask? What would you like to know?


Part II


Posted By Ash Kosiewicz

Posted Jun 16th, 2008


  • Holly

    June 16, 2008


    I think we Americans rarely get to connect with an individual who has suffered during conflict (I suppose unless we are in the midst of battle ourselves). Urrutia makes some sobering, saddening points that draw forth several questions: Do human rights violations against indigenous peoples bear less importance than those committed against the more privileged? How does Fujimori’s trial impact the survival of Peruvian indigenous peoples? If indigenous peoples had greater political representation in Peru, would the people of Peru demand veracity and accountability? I fear that all of this will be all forgotten in the end, despite current efforts to shine some light on the tragic events of the past.

  • Cesar Saenz Luyo

    June 18, 2008


    He visto detenidamente los videos de Ash en Putis que me estremecen y me llenan de dolor y pienso en QUE ES LO QUE SE PUEDE HACER PARA DEVOLVERLES LA PAZ Y LA TRANQUILIDAD A TODOS LOS FAMILIARES DE LOS QUE HAN SUFRIDO DETENCION-DESAPARICION FORZADA?. Existirá alguna forma para terminar con ese gran pesar que sobrevive?. En el caso de Putis, 24 años, y aún el dolor se mantiene como que si fuera ayer. Y asi otros casos de puebloas alejados de nuestro Perú donde la violación de derechos humanos dejó numerosas victimas que aún reclaman justicia, como en Huancavelica, Pichanaki, entre otros. Existirá alguna forma de devolverles la paz a los familiares vicxtimas de detención-desaparición forzada?.
    Una vez escuché decir a una representante de defensoria del Pueblo que señaló que al menos habria que estar vigilantes a los “cuarenta y tantos” casos judiciables de violación de derechos humanos, y que por lo menos esos cvasos sean vistos y los responsables castigados. Pero en la practica, creo que no hay ninguno, entonces, de que sirvió que se identificaran “casos judiciables”?.

  • Suava

    June 21, 2008


    Mr.Urrutia was very lucky to have connections and a quick thinking wife. Majority of those imprisoned were not as fortunate. Fujiimori is only one of many who commited crimes against humanity. I am sure no one wants to revisit previous administrations’ dealings with the native population. Russians to this day deny the masacre of Polish officers during WWII in Katyn, pinning the deed on Nazis. No one is buying it and they know it. They refused to declassify documents about Katyn, the same way as the present Peru government doesn’t want to release the information about those in the army who were responsible for the masacre in Putis. I hope MR.Urrutia will not be only as the member of commision, but also as a loud voice for those whose family members so tragically perished and are woefully underrepresented even today.Forgotten history has a nasty way of repeating itself.

  • Alessio

    September 1, 2008


    Fujimori el mejor presidente del Peru!

    Look up what the terrorist organizations Shining Path and MRTA did to Peru and how many THEY killed before you fools accuse Mr. Fujimori of crimes against humanity!

    I, like nearly half of all Peruvians, support Mr. Fujimori. He did nothing wrong. Viva Fujimori!

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