Historians concerned about death threats against members of a Guatemalan forensic anthropology team

Historians in the News

Amnesty International reports once again about death threats against members of a Guatemalan forensic anthropology team. These teams can be perceived as "protohistorians": they excavate mass graves to find evidence for the genocide and other crimes against humanity committed during the civil war (1960–96) and they are therefore of great concern to the historical profession. The new threats are apparently connected with, inter alia, an article in the newspaper Siglo XXI that reported that testimony was due to be given in Spain this month by witnesses to the Guatemalan genocide during the 1980s. I hope that you can send the recommended urgent appeals immediately. Please remember to write in your professional capacity.

With best wishes

Antoon De Baets
(Network of Concerned Historians)

P.S.: Please see also NCH campaign 31 (2003) and its follow-ups 1 (2005), 2 (2006), 3 (2006), and 4 (2007).


7 February 2008

Further Information on UA 238/05 (14 September 2005) and follow-ups (13 January 2006 and 16 March 2006)

Fear for safety/death threats


** Fredy Peccerelli (m), head of the Fundacion de Antropologia Forense de Guatemala (FAFG), Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation
** Omar Bertoni Giron (m), FAFG Laboratory Coordinator and husband of Bianka Peccerelli Monterroso
** Bianka Peccerelli Monterroso (f), sister of Fredy Peccerelli
** Gianni Peccerelli (m), brother of Fredy Peccerelli
** Other members of the FAFG

Fredy Peccerelli, head of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation (Fundación de Antropología Forense Guatemala; FAFG), his brother Gianni Peccerelli, his sister Bianka Peccerelli Monterroso and his brother-in-law Omar Bertoni Giron continue to be in grave danger following a new death threat made against them.

On 2 February, Omar Bertoni Giron received an SMS text message on his mobile phone which read, “I > They are going to take your security away and Omar, Ginni, Bianca y Fredy will die sons of bitches” (Yo > Les van a quitar la seguridad y mueren Omar, Ginni, Bianca y Fredy hijos de puta).

The threats took place the same day that the newspaper Siglo XXI published an article reporting a statement by the Deputy Minister of the Interior announcing a general review of police personnel assigned to personal protection duties.

In 2002, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) had requested that the four individuals named above, along with other members of the FAFG receive precautionary protection measures. In 2006, the Inter-American Court on Human Rights (IA Court HR) renewed the request. However, concerns persist regarding the effectiveness of the protection provided. In January 2006, FAFG were also threatened shortly after protection measures had been decreased (See UA 238/05, 13 January 2006 and follow-ups).

On 2 February 2008, another article in Siglo XXI reported that testimony was due to be given in Spain this month by witnesses to the Guatemalan genocide during the 1980s, before a Spanish judge. Fredy Peccerelli and other members of the FAFG have been subjected to numerous death threats as a result of their work to exhume mass graves of those killed by the Guatemalan military and their civilian allies during the internal armed conflict (1960–1996).


Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

** expressing grave concern for the safety of Fredy Peccerelli, Omar Bertoni Giron, Bianka Peccerelli and Gianni Peccerelli following a death threat against them received on 2 February 2008;

** urging the authorities to take immediate steps to provide effective protection measures for the four of them in accordance with the requests made by the IACHR and the IA Court HR in 2002 and 2006 respectively;

** calling for an immediate and thorough investigation into the threats, identifying those responsible and bringing them to justice

** reminding the authorities of the right of human rights defenders to carry out their activities without any restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the United Nations Declaration on the Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Institutions to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms.


Minister of the Interior
**Carlos Vinicio Gomez Ruiz
**Ministro de Gobernacion
**6a.Avenida 4-64, zona 4, nivel 2, Ciudad de Guatemala,
**Fax: 011 502 2413 8658
**Salutation: Senor Ministro/Dear Minister

Head of the Special Prosecutor’s Office on Human Rights,
**Public Prosecutor’s Office
**Rosa Maria Salazar Marroquin
**Jefa de la Fiscalia de Seccion de Derechos Humanos,
**Ministerio Publico
**10a calle 10-14, Zona 1, Edificio UP, Ciudad de Guatemala,
**Fax: 011 502 2230 6033 (say “por favor, tono de Fax” – business hours only)
**Salutation: Estimada Fiscal/Dear Madam


Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala (FAFG)
**Avenida Simon Canas 10-64, Zona 2, Ciudad de Guatemala,
**Fax: 011 502 2254 0882
**011 502 2288 7297
**011 502 2288 7302
**(if a voice responds, say “por favor, tono de fax”; if an answering machine responds, press “send” after the tone)

Ambassador Jose Guillermo Castillo
**Embassy of Guatemala
**2220 R St. NW
**Washington DC 20008
**Fax: 1 202 745 1908
**Email: info@guatemala-embassy.org

PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Try to write as close as possible to the date a case is issued.

Amnesty International is a worldwide grassroots movement that promotes and defends human rights.

This Urgent Action may be reposted if kept intact, including contact information and stop action date (if applicable). Thank you for your help with this appeal.

Check with NCH if sending appeals after 20 March 2008.

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