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Fredy Peccerelli speaks in Danville Community College's Oliver Hall

Fredy Peccerelli, founder of Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala, speaks at Danville Community College on Thursday, April 13, about his organization and their efforts to bring justice to the more than 40,000 unidentified people who were massacred during the course of Guatemala’s 36-year civil war and their families.

 

TED Talk Speaker Lectures on Bringing Justice to the "Disappeared"

 

(April 14, 2017)  – Danville Community College hosted renowned speaker and cultural anthropologist Fredy Peccerelli for a guest lecture on Thursday, April 13, in Oliver Hall about his organization’s efforts to identify the bodies of more than 40,000 “disappeared” Guatemalan citizens from the country’s 1960-1996 civil war.

 

Peccerelli founded an organization called the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG) to use DNA, archaeology, and storytelling to assist families with finding the previously unidentified bodies of their loved ones after he learned about cultural anthropology in college.

 

“It’s a sobering task, but it can bring peace of mind — and sometimes, justice,” Peccerelli explained.

 

Peccerelli delivered a TED Talk in 2014, available at ted.com, about his efforts to bring closure to the families of 40,000 of the more than 200,000 Guatemalan citizens who were killed during the Latin American country’s 36-year civil war from 1960 to 1996. These 40,000 victims were never found and are referred to as the “disappeared.”

 

La Comisión para el Esclarecimiento Histórico (CEH) or Guatemala’s Historical Clarification Commission was formed in 1994 and produced much of the data and reports upon which FAFG’s work is based.

 

According to FAFG’s website, “El informe de CEH revela que ‘La Desaparición Forzada fue una violación a los derechos humanos que se registró a lo largo de todo el período de duración del enfrentamiento armado.’”

 

Translated, the statement indicates that “Forced disappearance was a violation of human rights that was recorded throughout the entire duration of the armed confrontation.”

 

For 36 years, family members, friends, coworkers, and others seemingly vanished with no explanation and no path to healing for those left behind.

 

On Thursday, Peccerelli talked to DCC students, faculty, and staff about what happened to the thousands of “disappeared” people and that they were mostly executed or forced into slave labor before being executed. During the question-and-answer session at the end of the lecture, he explained that he doesn’t believe his work brings closure to families, but that it does create a pathway to healing and, in some cases, justice.

 

Starting in the mid-1990s, the “disappeared” began to be located in unmarked mass graves with very little identifying information to connect them with the CEH dossier. Enter Peccerelli and FAFG, who work to provide solace to the families of the “disappeared” and to provide evidence for the trials of those involved in their deaths.

 

Peccerelli was born in Guatemala, but he and his family fled to Brooklyn, New York, when he was nine years old after his father received threats from a death squad in 1980.

 

Peccerelli also talked about an upcoming Steven Spielberg documentary, Finding Oscar, which debuted on April 14 at select theatres in the United States.

 

For more information about Peccerelli and the Fundación de Antropología Forense de Guatemala, visit www.fafg.org. For information about upcoming free public lectures at Danville Community College, see the events calendar at www.danville.edu.

Fredy Peccerelli presents data to the audience assembled in Oliver Hall

Fredy Peccerelli, forensic anthropologist and 2014 TED Talk speaker, illustrates the connection between the “disappeared” and their families, which, he explained, has led to the identification of more victims of the Guatemalan Civil War and has brought resolution to more of the victims’ families during a guest lecture at Danville Community College on Thursday, April 13.

 

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