Peru: Dignified burial for people who went missing during armed violence in Tingo María

  • In the city of Tingo María, Huánuco, the public prosecutor’s office returned the bodies of 26 people reported missing. This was the first return of a large number of victims to take place in the city and it is expected that the work of searching for, identifying and returning victims will be intensified to alleviate, to some extent, the suffering of families who are still waiting for their loved ones after more than three decades.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / D. Martos
  • For many, the Huallaga River, as mentioned in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s report, is a mass grave, which very probably contains dozens of disappeared people from the era.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / D. Martos
  • "How I would have loved for my mother to hug me just as I hug my daughter," says Jessica Barreto Alejo, a 32-year-old who was orphaned at the age of two when her mother, Susana Alejo, was taken by force from the community, after which she never saw her again. "Now I can take her flowers, light candles for her, greet her on her birthday. I am happy because it was possible to have my mothers’ bones returned to me. In the same way that they have been given back to me, I wish the same for other families; it is very difficult to live with the anguish and the absence."
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / D. Martos
  • A titanic task lies ahead of the Peruvian State to search for, recover, identify and return the more than 15,000 people who disappeared as a result of the Peruvian armed conflict. Forensic experts of the Specialised Forensic Team of the Institute of Legal Medicine (IML) work together with families to help them to participate in the process of identification and subsequent return of the bodies.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / D. Martos
  • "My son disappeared at 19 years of age. I do not have photos of him as a teenager, only as a child. Here he is at 9 years old; see how beautiful he was. I have waited for so many years to have him again. I never stopped thinking about him," says Julia Carmen de Flores, tearfully.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / C. Gonzales
  • Although she cannot swim, Carmen Rosa Viena didn´t hesitate for a second before throwing herself into the Huallaga River to lift out the body of her mother who had been decapitated on the banks of the river in 1993. She buried her to the best of her ability to prevent the body from being thrown back into the river and lost forever. Twenty five years later she has been able to recover it. "My mother deserves a dignified burial. Who in Aucayacu, where she sold food, didn´t know her? Everyone loved her."
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / C. Gonzales
  • Psychosocial support for relatives of missing people is essential throughout the search process. It is necessary to find appropriate ways to give closure to the mourning process. Joint efforts between State institutions, local authorities, civil society and family organizations are being carried out in Huánuco.
    CC BY-NC-ND / ICRC / D. Martos
22 March 2018

With the participation of more than 80 people, including family members, local and national authorities, representatives of organizations, health care personnel, students and the local press, 26 families in Tingo María received their loved ones who went missing during the period of violence that shook Peru between the 1980s and the year 2000.