Indigenous Guatemalans rally against genocide-denial measure

Human rights advocates and victims of Guatemala`s civil war demonstrated Monday before Congress, protesting the adoption of a resolution stating that no genocide occurred during the 36-year conflict.

AFP| Last Updated: May 20, 2014, 03:01 AM IST

Guatemala City: Human rights advocates and victims of Guatemala`s civil war demonstrated Monday before Congress, protesting the adoption of a resolution stating that no genocide occurred during the 36-year conflict.

Dozens of people rallying in the capital of Guatemala City carried placards and photographs of dead loved ones, expressing their indignation against the measure, approved last week.

In the resolution, lawmakers called for reconciliation and peace nearly two decades after the end of the civil war.

They measure said it was "legally unfounded" that "a genocide during the armed conflict" had occurred.

The resolution was proposed by an elected official close to former dictator Efrain Rios Montt, who is on trial for genocide.

Indigenous representatives called on Congress to respect the separation of power and not rule on judicial proceedings, particularly those concerning the alleged genocide.

"The deputies who approved the resolution, which denies the genocide, kill us," indigenous leader Diego Santiago told the press during the rally.
Rios Montt, 87, has been accused of ordering the massacre of more than a thousand indigenous Ixil Maya people, suspected of supporting guerrillas during the 36-year civil war that ended in 1996.

The former general was convicted in May 2013 of genocide and war crimes in a historic ruling that landed him an 80-year sentence.

However, that same month, the Constitutional Court struck down the conviction and the sentence on grounds the ex-dictator was denied due process. A new trial is scheduled to begin in January 2015.

Rios Montt`s presidency was one of the bloodiest stretches of Guatemala`s civil war, which left around 200,000 people dead or missing, according to a 1999 UN-sponsored report.

Under his regime, the Guatemalan army carried out a "scorched earth" policy against indigenous people.