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By J. Power (Auth.)
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Extra info for Amnesty International. The Human Rights Story
Executions without trial began in 1966, reached a peak in 1971, diminished briefly in the prelude to the 1974 elections, and then have become more and more numerous ever since. Amnesty International has always maintained that the association of death squads with important key government and political figures was close enough to cause serious concern. In its 1981 annual report, it talked of the "political m u r d e r " encouraged by the Guatemalan government. But it stopped short of saying that killings were directed by the government: Amnesty at that time was still awaiting irrefutable evidence to confirm its suspicions.
Anyone w h o speaks out and complains, much less organizes a formal opposition grouping, is the target for assassination. H o w did Amnesty arrive at its conviction that the government was in charge of the killings? A series of violent events, observed and recorded by reliable witnesses, all suggest g o v e r n m e n t involvement. T h e most widely reported mass killing by regular army forces took place on 29 May 1978. O n e hundred Indians, including five children, were shot dead in the town square of Panzos.
Every day there are new reports of torture and killings. The violence is almost totally one-sided. The opposition groups by and large have used non-violent techniques of protest. Recently, however, the nascent guerrilla groups have been building up their strength. (Treasury police) for "Servicio Especial" (Special Service), in the name of Baldomero Mendoza. The government denied that either of the t w o men w h o attacked Victor Valverth were members of the security services, but the dead man's widow later confirmed his identity to the press.