Sepur Zarco Case
November, 2015 – MTM –
In the year 2008 the United Nations Security Advisor Program through Resolution 1820 declared sexual violence and other forms of sexual abuse as war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide.
Before the year 1990 and during the conflicts and war, sexual abuse was ignored, it was concealed, trivialized and even it was justified, similar to what the Japanese did by institunalizing sexual slavery of women in Japan. The same that was done to the women of Rhondda and the Muslim women of Bosnia, they were victims of this flagellum. These cases were processed in the International Courts.
In Guatemala, during the Conflicto Armado Interno (CAI) Internal Armed Conflict, in the 80’s, a military settlement named Sepur Zarco was established in the area of Panzos y El Estor, East of Guatemala. This settlement was established within other smaller military settlements in the area.
On August 25, 1982 the settlement in question had finished the construction done by the people that lived in the area at gun point. At this time all the men of the community of Sepur Zarco were captured by the militia and the women were taken into the settlement to be used as sexual slaves and help with cleaning chores. The men that were captured were the husbands of the raped women. They belonged to the ethnicity Maya Q’eqchi. At that same time these Mayans were legalizing the ownership of their land and territories. The men were captured and accused of being rebels against the government.
The abuse against these women was done by members of the Guatemalan army during 6 consecutive months. The women had to take turns every 3 days to cook, wash military uniforms, and be raped repeatedly. To prevent pregnancies from the soldiers the women were forced to take medications and be vaccinated.
Mujeres Transformando el Mundo –MTM- is a part of Alianza Rompiendo el Silencio y la Impunidad and in conjunction with Unamg and Ecap. On March of 2010 the “symbolic justice” act took place for all the surviving women of the war crimes. It was done through the Tribunal de Conciencia contra la Violencia Sexual (Bureau of Awareness against Sexual Violence) and the purpose was to break the silence and generate the right conditions to have access to legal justice for these women after 30 years of impunity.
In the year 2009 MujeresTransformando el Mundo initiated the legal actions needed to prepare the Case. They proceeded with all the investigations that allowed the presentation at the Judicial Court Querella Penal in the month of September 2011.
In September of 2012 the Q’eqchi women gave there declarations as an anticipatory proof in front of the judge handling the Case. This was done in observance of the health conditions of these women and the advanced age of the victims. Four of these women died of cancer 4 months after these declarations were done.
The accused, Army Colonel Esteelmer Francisco Reyes Giron and the ex-Military Commissioner Heriberto Valdez Asig were detained by the Ministerio Público on June of 2014. In the month of October of the same year the Judge open the case for the following transgressions of law:
Army Colonel Esteelmer Francisco Reyes Girón:
Transgressions of lawagainst humanity used as sexual violence, sexual and domestic slavery against 11 women.
Murder of 3 women (a mother and her2 small daughters)
Cruel acts against 2 small girls
Military CommissionerHeriberto Valdez Asig:
Forced disappearence of 6 men, husbands of the female victims.
Tansgressions of law against humanity by using sexual violence against 1 woman.
All were considered war crimes.
In the month of June 2015 the Judge Miguel Angel Galvez from the Judicial Court B of High Risk accepted the proofs presented to him and expedite them to the Judicial Court A of High Risk for the legal process to continue.
The case or oral and public debate will take place in Guatemala City, beginning February 01, 2016, and the proceeds will be as follows:
The testimonies of 15 victims.
The testimonies of 35 witnesses
The presentation of 23 Parities (military, cultural, linguistic, doctors, psychosocial, anthropological analysis of the sexual violence, gender, anthropological forensic, etc.)
Open exposure of the skeletons as other means of proof.
The Case Sepur Zarco is emblematic because it’s the first time that the accused will be put in the hands of the national justice for the transgressions of law that have international transcendence.
This manifests the braveness of the Q’eqchie’s women that have to follow and go through a judicial system in a legal and foreign language. A system that discriminates them and victimizes them all over again. Still they are strong and will continue until the end of this process to obtain the condemning sentence.
Why do we solicit the support of the international observers, the feminist organizations and the DDHH in this difficult path to gain justice?
Because the accused are part of the national army
Because Guatemala has been recognized as one of the countries with a high level of corruption by the people in power of the state and the national judicial system, not being an exemption.
Because Guatemala is still a patriarchal society that doesn’t take women into consideration.
The lawyer of one of the accused has generated illegal and malicious litigations in several of the procedures of transitional justice as per the Ixil Genocide Case.
At this time one of the lawyers of one of the accused is defending the ex-president of Guatemala Otto Perez Molina, that creates a tie between the accused militaries with the highest levels of the militaries in the country.
We invite you to Please share this information with your contacts and follow the development of this process that is mainly looking for the the transitional justice for the Maya Q’eqchi women so that they can transition from being victims to having rights.
You can go to our channel in YouTube / MujeresTransformando el Mundo and watch a video that gives a short story of the above mentioned in this informative page. For further information on the Case Sepur Zarco go to: