Article by PBI-Canada
On January 6, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted this 4-minute video (in Spanish) about the Creompaz case.
That day was the 5th anniversary of the arrest of fourteen former military on charges of forced disappearance and crimes against humanity. At least seven other people related to the Creompaz case remain fugitives from justice.
That army base, then known as Military Zone 21, was the site of extreme violence against men, women and children in the 1980s.
It was there that 84 mass graves containing 565 bodies were found.
The Caso Creompaz video notes that hundreds of victims have been identified as Indigenous Maya Poqomchi, Q’eqchi’, Achi, Ixil and K’iche peoples.
The military base is considered the largest clandestine cemetery in Latin America.
In Creompaz: Guatemala’s ‘Little School of the Americas’, Canadian journalist Dawn Paley writes: “Evidence uncovered by forensic anthropologists shows that people disappeared from various regions were later brought to the base at Coban by soldiers for interrogation and torture, followed by extrajudicial execution and secret burial.”
Indigenous people were targeted during the armed conflict that began in 1960 and formally ended in 1996.
An estimated 200,000 Guatemalans were killed with 93 per cent of the executions of civilians carried out by government forces. Of the 42,275 individual cases of killing and disappearances documented by the Commission for Historical Clarification, 83 per cent of the victims of the armed conflict were Indigenous Maya.
Military Zone 21 is now the United Nations Creompaz (Regional Training Command for Peacekeeping Operations) training base for peacekeepers.
Paley has commented: “Regardless of the mass graves at the base, military and police training continues there, supported by countries like the US and Canada.” The support from Canada has included a CAD$250,000 grant in 2009 and the purchase of specialized equipment in 2014 for a training program at Creompaz.
PBI-Guatemala has accompanied the Human Rights Law Firm (BDH) at hearings of several of the officers indicted in the crimes against humanity committed at this base.
PBI-Guatemala also accompanies the Chicoyogüito Neighborhood Association (AVECHAV) which represents the 250 families displaced by the construction of the base on their lands. The survivors and relatives of the displaced families continue to ask that their lands be returned to them and that their dispossession by the military end.