Jan 11, 2010

Naming the "Disappeared"

Source: IPS
By Danilo Valladares

GUATEMALA CITY, Jan 11 , 2010 (IPS) - Through the "My Name Is Not XX" campaign, the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation is working to identify the remains of thousands of victims who were forcibly disappeared during the country's 1960-1996 armed conflict, by inviting their relatives to provide DNA samples.

Ads reading "My Name Is Not XX: A Sample of DNA from My Relatives Can Identify Me. Call Phone Number 1598" have been posted in buses in the capital to draw attention to the campaign that was launched in November.

In Guatemala, where an estimated 45,000 people fell victim to forced disappearance, overwhelmingly at the hands of the armed forces and allied paramilitary militias, graves containing the remains of unidentified people are simply marked "XX".

According to the 1999 report by the United Nations-sponsored Historical Clarification Commission (CEH), the 36-year civil war between government forces and leftwing guerrillas claimed around 200,000 lives, mainly rural indigenous villagers killed or forcibly abducted by the state security forces and the local civilian self-defence patrols (known as PACs) set up by the army.

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