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Speeches and Public Hearings

Press conference on the public hearing of Lima

Speech by CVR’s President

Ladies and gentlemen, journalists,

On Friday June 21st, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission will open in the capital of the Republic its fifth public hearing. As those already held in the cities of Humanga, Huanta, Huancayo and Huancavelica and in the meetings with the population in the city of Cuzco, Lima’s public hearing is inspired by some fundamental principles: preferential attention to the victims, impartial and equitable treatment of cases, and human dignity and national reconciliation.

For the Truth and Reconciliation Commission it is a moral obligation to hold these meetings with the victims of violence and to disseminate, with the aid of mass media, the unfairness and true horrors that befell over thousands of Peruvians in the last two decades. The hearings are inspired by a spirit of justice and solidarity that only an observer with bad faith could disavow. No one with elementary humanitarian feelings who have had already performed hearings may seen on them a simple morbid eagerness and abuse to recreate with them. No one with a minimum feeling of respect and compassion for those who suffered -a main feeling at those of us who call ourselves Christians- can pretend to deny victims, those who have lost everything, even that minimum form of regress, our attention and respect an our acknowledgement of the dignity of persons.

We experiences to date show us, fortunately, that Peruvians are in great part receptive towards this endeavor. Thanks to you, representatives of the mass media, thousands of Peruvians have accompanied us already in this approach to victims, and by doing so, have started to understand the tragedy live in our country in all its complexity and depth. We are convinced that this understanding of facts would make it possible in the near future to arrive to a genuine reconciliation, that is one on interested and selfish oblivion and mutual ignorance, but the knowledge of what had happened and, most of all, on the acknowledgement of the value of people.

A moral task, not a political one

I wish to confirm the guiding principle of the public hearing in Lima. As the ones before, it will be a way to give voice to the victims of violence or their relatives. As we have said before, we conceived these acts as a way to redress one of the greatest damages caused by humans rights abuses: the dispossession of dignity, the grievous divestiture through society’s indifference and the silence to which they were condemned for so long. Giving them a voice is a way of restoring their dignity, of socially acknowledging them and this is what we will also do in this ceremony.

Inevitably the stories told involve very concrete references to names, dates and places. Therefore, it is understandable that some of the testimonies will trigger reactions and controversy. Thus, it is essential to invoke society at large, and those who have a public voice in particular, to respect the rights of those testifying to expose their tragedy to society.

Redress of victims through a public act -a task the Commission is involved in- is guided only by the desire to promote the recognition of truth in Peru, and lay foundations of prompt reconciliation. No one can find in this hearing, or in previous ones, any political intention, even if the matters we deal with are present in daily debate. All political actors who have assumed the duty of serving the citizens must understand and acknowledge that the presence of the Truth Commission in public affairs is aimed only at restoring the nation’s moral.

Every case is important

In the Lima hearing we will have the opportunity of listening to testimonies or cases that have already been debated and investigated. Indeed, some cases well-known by the citizens will be presented in this hearing. Two observations must be made in this regard. Firstly, the seriousness of human rights abuses cannot be measured by a mistaken criterion of novelty. Transgressing a human right is always a scandal, no matter how well-known it is. Secondly, we must remember that all cases are equally important, since they involve human disgraces. It is true that some facts had more repercussion than others in the past and only some will be heard in this hearing. However, all the testimonies heard so far -in Huamanga, Huanta, Huancayo, Huancavelica or Cuzco- merit the same attention from us and must equal trigger compassion and indignation.

We do not pass judgment

Presence of the press is of utmost importance for so this hearing to meet its objectives. Redressing the victims is only possible if their tragedies are heard by citizens. We trust that the mass media will know how to value and convey the intimate and personal dimension of these tragedies.

Faithfulness is one of our main preoccupations. The testimonies to be heard come from people who were true victims of violence. Having said this, we must understand that at the end of the day the testimony belongs to the victim and that he/she is responsible for his/her story. The fact that a case is presented in a public hearing does not mean the Commission is taking any position. We do not pass any judgment in this. What we do is to present a portion of the enormous tragedy that involved all of us Peruvians citizens to know and think about.

Hearing and dialog

Organizing a hearing, preparing a stage to listen to each other respectfully and to speak accurately means starting a very necessary practice in our country: the practice of tolerant and reasonable dialogue, of respectful listening and of debate in good faith. We must repeatedly call attention to this, when the south of the country is shaken by violent protest and the country seems once again on the verge of the vicious circle of deafness and exalted protest.

To achieve peaceful cohabitation and build a better future for all, we must learn to listen to each other and to dialogue. Knowing how to listen is not only letting someone speak, denying in advance all validity or relevance to the words spoken. Having others listen to us, on the other hand, does not consist on proclaiming unreasonable demands. The current situation must make us more sensitive to the importance of sincere dialogue and good faith, to the need of opening not only our ears but also our hearts to others. Public hearings are a step ahead in the process of building a new national understanding.

Therefore, we thank in advance the presence of the mass media and we invoke them to participate in the spirit with which the Commission offers these ceremonies to the country, as they have already done before. We are sure you would also help us now with your seriousness, ponderation, respect for others’ suffering, to convey to the whole country a message of compassion, tolerance and dignity, which is the reason of being of these hearings.

Salomón Lerner Febres
Truth and Reconciliation Commission