An Urgent Letter About Guatemala
Subject: Re: Assasination of Bishop Gerardi
Date: Tuesday, April 28, 1998 4:49 PM
HEAD OF ARCHBISHOP'S HUMAN RIGHTS OFFICE ASSASSINATED
On April 26, 1998, two days after the Guatemalan Archbishop's Human
Rights Office (ODHA) released a groundbreaking report detailing the
country's history of human rights abuses, an unknown assailant brutally
murdered the director of that office, Bishop Juan Jose Gerardi.
Bishop Gerardi, who served as the Auxiliary Bishop for the Archdiocese
of Guatemala, was beaten to death with a cement block in his garage at
10:00 pm on Sunday night. Bishop Gerardi was found dead several hours
later. Robbery is not considered a possible motive as several items of
value remained on his person.
The Bishop, in addition to founding and directing the ODHA, was the
coordinator of the interdiocesan project for the Recovery of the
Historic Memory (REMHI). On April 24, in a public ceremony held in the
Guatemala City cathedral, the REMHI project released the results of its
three year investigation of human rights abuses committed during the
war. The report, called "Never Again," documented and analyzed more
than 55,000 cases of human rights violations, and determined that the
Guatemalan army was responsible for at least 80 percent of those acts.
The Guatemalan Catholic Church has stated that the assassination of
Bishop Gerardi is a severe blow to the peace process and demanded that
the government of President Alvaro Arzu give a full accounting of the
murder within 72 hours.
The murder of Bishop Gerardi brought widespread condemnation from
Guatemalan civil society leaders and human rights organizations.
According to Nobel Peace Laureate Rigoberta Menchu, the assassination of
Bishop Gerardi is a warning that "the situation has not changed.
Impunity continues and murderers still walk the streets freely and act
when they want."
Menchu also stated that for her "there is no doubt that the
assassination of Bishop Gerardi is a political crime."
For more information contact the Network in Solidarity with the People
of Guatemala (NISGUA):
Phone: 202-518-7638 Fax: 202-223-8221 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org WWW:
1. Call the Guatemalan Embassy in the United States (202-745-4952, ext
101) and demand that the government take the following actions:
- Conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the attack - Pass
the constitutional reforms of the army agreed to in the peace accords -
Make public all government and army documents relating to human rights
2. Call your local newspapers, and radio and tv stations and ask to
speak to the editor for international news. Urge the editor to run any
wire stories they receive about this attack.
3. Call the White House (202) 456-1111 and your Representative and
Senators (202) 224-3121. Ask them to:
- Make a statement denouncing the assassination
- Support the Human Rights Information Act (H.R. 2635 and S.1220). If
your Representative or Senators have not signed onto this bill, urge
them to do so now. Tell them that declassifying U.S. government
documents is one of the most important things they can do to help end
the culture of impunity in Guatemala. Call NISGUA or visit our website
if you need more information on this bill. Tell the President to
declassify all human rights documents immediately.
Hold a vigil. Communities in Washington, DC and New York are organizing
candlelight vigils this week to honor the memory and work of Bishop
Gerardi. (The Washington vigil will take place on Thursday, April 30 at
6:30 p.m. at St. Aloysius Church, 900 North Capitol St., NW).
Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper.
Please let us know of any events or actions you are planning.
This alert prepared by NISGUA. April 28, 1998. Email: