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Document Friday: El Diario Militar; The Death Squad Diary

May 4, 2012

Last week our Archivista Kate Doyle provided expert witness testimony before the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in the case of the Diario Militar  during the Court’s 45th Extraordinary Session held in Guayaquil, Ecuador.   The Diario Militar, or Death Squad Diary, is a Guatemalan military log book that proves the institution kept detailed records of its death squad operations.  The Diary reveals the fate of scores of Guatemalan citizens who were “disappeared” by security forces during the mid-1980s. Replete with photos of 183 victims and coded references to their executions, the 54-page document was smuggled out of the Guatemalan army’s intelligence files and provided to human rights advocates in February 1999, just two days before a UN-sponsored truth commission released its report on the country’s bloody 35-year civil war.

Doyle testified that Guatemalan government continues to refuse to investigate the deaths of the dissapeared.  She told the court that, “The Guatemalan Army, the Police and the intelligence services are intrinsically opaque, secretive and closed institutions, and it has been almost impossible to gain access to their records.  This policy of silence has survived the peace accords; it has survived the Historical Clarification Commission; and it continues today – despite the discovery of archives, the exhumations of clandestine cemeteries, the criminal convictions of perpetrators of human rights violations, and the unceasing demand for information by families of the disappeared.”

Here is Doyle’s complete testimony.  Emily Willard covered the case for Unredacted.  More information about the diary can be found here, although the document speaks for itself.

Four of the one hundred and eighty three disappeared.  The Guatemalan security services clipped these photographs from their victim’s identification cards.

View all the victims’ names and faces in the complete Diario Militar.

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