The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaborations.
Justice Comes for the General
May 16, 2013
The following is excerpted from UUSC President Bill Schulz’s e-mail to UUSC supporters in May 2013 about the conviction of Gen. Efrain Rios Montt.
Elena was just 12 years old when she and her mother were abducted by Guatemalan soldiers in 1983, taken to an army base, and violated. She was eventually released — but she never saw her mother again.
This past Friday she was in the courtroom when the man behind that and countless other atrocities, Gen. Efrain Rios Montt, was found guilty of genocide and crimes against humanity. The general is finally being held responsible for his campaign to exterminate the Mayan Ixil ethnic group during his brutal dictatorship in the early 1980s.
The first time that any former head of state, anywhere, has been convicted of genocide in a national tribunal, General Rios’s conviction was a tremendous victory for human rights and justice.
It was a victory made possible, in part, by your Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, which funded forensic research on exhumed bodies that provided key evidence to help prove the military’s culpability.
When one of the staff members at the organization that performed the forensic research was asked about constantly dealing with the darkest side of human nature, his response spoke volumes:
“We don’t deal with the dark side of human nature. I deal with the brightest side of human nature — constantly — with families who have the courage to confront authorities, who want to know the truth, who are seeking justice.”
It is for that sort of courage and strength that all of us owe a profound debt of gratitude to Elena — and the millions of others around the world who, under threat of unspeakable brutality, demand justice.