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"We, survivors of the armed conflict’s crimes, have taken courage to tell what happened to us so that these inhuman acts never again occur in our society," rape victim Paulina Ixpata stated.
On Wednesday, Guatemala's Judge Jazmin Barrios began the trial against five former members of the Civil Self-Defense Patrols (PAC). Between 1981 and 1985, they raped 36 Achi Indigenous women in the Rabinal municipality amid the civil war.
The defendants' lawyers argued that those crimes could not be tried because they had already prescribed. However, Barrios, who has been widely awarded abroad for her performance in previous judicial proceedings, argued that serious crimes against human rights do not prescribe, according to local laws and international agreements.
"Sexual violence against these women destroyed their integrity and affected them at all levels," the Public Ministry witness anthropologist Aura Cumes stated, adding that the rapes were used as a form of torture to obtain information about the guerrillas.
"We, survivors of the armed conflict’s crimes, have taken courage to tell what happened to us so that these inhuman acts never again occur in our society," rape victim Paulina Ixpata stated during a sit-in outside the Public Prosecutor’s Office (MP).
The IOM reports that over 57% of unaccompanied minors deported to Guatemala in 2021 were indigenous children.
The PAC and the Guatemalan military commissioner were dissolved with the 1996 peace agreements, which ended a civil war that left 200,000 people dead and thousands with physical and psychological traits of torture.
A United Nations Truth Commission reported that 93 percent of the civil war’s human rights violations were committed by the PAC members and other Guatemalan military men, most of who have not yet faced trial for their crimes.
"Impeding the prosecution of these wrongdoings is a disgrace for the Guatemalan State," the Indigenous leader and 1992 Nobel Peace Prize winner Rigoberta Menchu stated and urged the MP to put the rape case at the fore.