Peru has opened a museum of historical memory to commemorate the dead

It was Peru’s deadliest conflict. During the 1980s and 90s tens of thousands were killed and thousands more forcibly disappeared when the Maoist guerrillas of the Shining Path unleashed violence against the very people they claimed to defend. Atrocities were also committed by Peru’s security forces who used torture and forced disappearances during a state-sponsored campaign of counter-terror.

Now, against all the odds, Peru has opened a museum of historical memory to commemorate the dead — and to address the country’s enduring polarisation over human rights abuses committed by the armed forces.

Adelina Garcia (50) remembers the night in December 1983 when her husband, Zosimo, was dragged from their home. She never saw him again. More than 30 years later she is president of the National Association of Families of the Kidnapped, Detained and Disappeared of Peru (Anfasep), based in Ayacucho, the Andean region that was the centre of the conflict. The Place of Memory, Tolerance and Social Inclusion museum in Lima is expected to officially open later this year, but this month held a “soft launch”.

What we are trying to do is to make a bridge for people so they can converge somewhere; a place where you can reflect ... debate and discuss.

“We want to open a space that goes beyond a museum,” said Denise Ledgard, its executive director. “In terms of memory we start from the point that there is not one truth. “What we are trying to do is to make a bridge for people so they can converge somewhere; a place where you can reflect ... debate and discuss.” — © Guardian Newspapers Limited, 2014

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