San José, Costa Rica, since 1956

Mass Graves Found at Guatemalan Base

GUATEMALA CITY (EFE) – Forensicanthropologists have found mass gravesat the site of a former military base in northernGuatemala, where the remains of hundredsof likely victims of massacres or summaryexecutions are thought to be located,human-rights activists said.The Mutual Support Group (GAM), anorganization of relatives of victims of the1960-1996 civil war in this CentralAmerican nation, said the exhumations ofgraves, being conducted by experts fromthe Guatemalan Forensic AnthropologyFoundation, started Tuesday.“After nearly three years of legal efforts,and of failed exhumations, the exhumationsstarted of 13 clandestine graves inside whatwas formerly the largest military base inGuatemala,” the group said.The old military base # 22 is located inthe indigenous community of PlayaGrande, Ixcan, in El Quiche province,some 320 kilometers north of the capital.“From these installations, members ofthe armed forces left to repress thousandsof campesinos in the northern part of thisprovince,” the GAM said.In the first grave exhumed, expertsfound 15 skulls believed to be those of campesinosand native Americans who fell victimto the military’s campaign of repression.In coming weeks, specialists expect tocomplete the exhumation of 12 massgraves believed to contain the remains ofmore than 300 people.A February 1998 report by the TruthCommission, which investigated rightsviolations committed during Guatemala’s36-year civil war, said 200,000 peoplewere killed and more than 50,000 disappearedin the conflict.The army, according to the commission,committed some 96% of the rightsviolations.The army public affairs office refused tocomment on the latest mass graves found.

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