Justice and Accountability
Women survivors of sexual slavery from Sepur Zarco perform a ceremony in honor of the 1-year anniversary of the historic sentence that convicted former members of the Guatemalan military, acknowledging the long fight ahead for reparations.
A Guatemalan woman performs outside of the courts during the 2013 trial against former dictator Efraín Ríos Montt for genocide against the Ixil people.
450 chairs are set up in Guatemala City's central square on June 30, 2017, to honor the 45,000 people forcibly disappeared by the military during the armed conflict. Photo: CPR Urbana.
Since the end of Guatemala’s 36-year internal armed conflict and the signing of the Peace Accords in 1996, Guatemalan individuals and organizations have tirelessly sought to bring to justice the people responsible for many of the conflict’s egregious human rights abuses, carried out with military training and the financial support of the U.S. government. According to the UN Historical Clarification Commission, over 200,000 people were killed and an additional 45,000 forcibly disappeared by state forces. Thousands more women experienced sexual violence at the hands of the military, more than 85% of whom were indigenous.
With creativity, tenacity, and courage, survivors work daily to defend and restore collective memory of what happened during the conflict. Together, their work aims to guarantee that genocide never be repeated, while taking on the unfinished liberatory work of those who were taken by state violence.
Today, more than four years after the historic verdict that convicted former U.S.-backed military dictator Efraín Ríos Montt of genocide against the Ixil people, struggles for truth, justice, and memory continue – in courtrooms and in the daily lives of survivors. The 2013 verdict came after decades of courageous determination and has opened the door for new legal victories to be won. Every day, survivors, activists, lawyers, artists, healers, and educators fight for social justice and liberation in Guatemala. Historical memory runs through their work like a thread, connecting present-day movements with centuries of resilient struggle.