Bodies Found In Common Graves In Peru’s Guerrilla Zone
AYACUCHO, Peru (AP) _ Three graves containing the bodies of 11 civilians were found Wednesday in Peru’s guerrilla warfare zone, raising to 40 the number of dead discovered in the Andean mountain area within 24 hours.
Marines of the armed forces command had sealed off the area around the newly discovered graves after investigators from the attorney general’s office uncovered another grave Tuesday that held the bodies of 29 people. The dead were believed to be among hundreds reported by relatives as missing after being detained by government forces.
The bodies, many with hands tied behind their backs and with bullet wounds and burns, were found in shallow graves about 30 miles from Ayacucho where Pope John Paul II is scheduled to visit Feb. 3 while on a tour of three South American nations.
The pope is expected to plead for peace in the area around Ayacucho, where more than 4,000 people have been killed and more than 1,000 disappeared in four years of violence.
The discovery of the graves raised new questions about government claims that human rights were being respected in the hunt for the guerrillas and government denials of human rights organizations’ claims of abuses.
Atty. Gen. Alvaro Rey de Castro, whose office has autonomy from the government, said last week he does not think human rights in general were being respected because of the number of peasants reported by their families to have disappeared.
Two of the bodies exhumed Wednesday in the presence of a justice of the peace were identified by relatives as Eusebio Quispe, 32, and Clemente Ore Pariona, 25. Both had been reported by their families as missing.
Dr. Jose de la Rosa of the attorney general’s office, who led a team of investigators to the grave containing 29 bodies, said he had been given the location in an anonymous complaint filed with his office. He said the bodies appeared to have been buried for about 10 days.
The other three graves were found after shepherds gave their location to marines, the attorney general’s office said. The bodies appeared to have been buried within the past three or four days, the office said. They said autopsies would be performed on all the bodies to determine the cause of death and to try to identify them.
The common graves were the first found since last August, when the bodies of 50 people were discovered in the same area of south central Peru. Two of those bodies later were identified by relatives as family members arrested by units of the 5,000 troops and police stationed in the area to fight the rebels.
The armed forces joint command said the 49 men and one woman were from the Maoist guerrilla movement Shining Path and that they had been buried by comrades. Most of those bodies showed signs of torture and some of the dead had their hands tied behind their backs.
President Fernando Belaunde Terry said he accepted the armed forces version.
The head of the Senate judiciary committee, Sen. Oriel Boldrini, said Wednesday that Terry’s government respects human rights despite reports to the contrary by Amnesty International.
Boldrini, a member of Belaunde’s party, told the government news agency Andina that a report by the London-based human rights organization alleging human rights violations was the result to statements made by unidentified members of congress interested in damaging Peru’s image abroad.
An Amnesty Internationel report embargoed for release Jan. 22 and published partially in Peru on Wednesday said that more than 1,000 men, women and children have disappeared in the guerrilla warfare area after having been arrested by government police and soldiers.