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
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