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4599 - Placing Victimhood. Memorials in post-Truth Commission Peru

After 20 years of civil war and authoritarian government, the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission from 2001 to 2003 estimated the number of fatal victims to nearly 70.000 concluding that the conflict had especially devastated the rural landscape of the notoriously poor and marginalized indigenous population of the Central-South of the Peruvian Andes. According to the narrative presented in the Truth Commission`s report the indigenous population was caught up between the lines of the maoist Shining Path insurgents on the one side and state forces on the other side. Along with individual and collective reparations the Truth and Reconciliation Commission also recommended symbolic reparations such as public apologies, the re-naming of public facilities after victims of the civil war and also the creation of memorials. Since the publication of the Truth Commission`s report in 2003 a considerable memorial landscape has developed in Peru that reaches from the capital Lima to regional capitals in the Andes and even small rural communities in the most affected parts of the country. In the region of Ayacucho several memory houses, small museums dedicated to the victims of the civil war, have been erected in indigenous communities by human rights organizations with the help of local victims associations and foreign donors. These present us with a narrative very much in line with the conclusions of the Truth Commission, displaying an innocent civilian population of victims caught up between the lines. Still, the common inter- and intracommunal violence in these communities during the civil war are not mentioned at all in these places of memory. Drawing on findings from my recent field work in the region of Ayacucho I want to show how these memorial spaces and the discourse of victimhood that both, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission and human rights organizations, have developed are used by the local population in Andean communities to present themselves as innocent victims in a conflict they did not take part in, thereby using places of memory to display their victimhood to outsiders in an ongoing struggle for reparations and a desire for progress in their communities.

Palavras-chaves: Peru, Truth Commission, Memory, Memorials, Victimhood

Autores: Weissert, Markus (Berghof Conflict Research, Germany / Deutschland)

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