The Peruvian Forensic Anthropology Team (EPAF) has closely followed the events surrounding the violent confrontations in Bagua on June 5, 2009. Since then, we have consistently encouraged the authorities to carry out an impartial investigation that would provide the families of the victims with concrete answers to their questions about what transpired that day and what happened to their loved ones. After having seen yesterday’s presentation from Peru’s National Police (PNP) explaining the information that it has collected regarding the whereabouts of Major Felipe Bazán, we would like to share the following observations.
Although it is true that the discovery of the photograph showing Maj. Bazán shortly after his capture is a testament to the PNP’s diligence in investigating the disappearance of one of its officers, we fear that publicly exhibiting the picture will not contribute significantly to the resolution of the case and can only serve to intensify the pain of his grieving family. The photograph of a man led by his captors, naked from the waist up with possible signs of mistreatment is not an image that can help to calm the pain and anguish of a family that still hopes to find evidence of their loved one’s whereabouts.
Maj. Bazán’s family has been waiting for that information for the past seven months, just as the family members of thousands of Peruvian still hope to learn about the fate of their loved ones. We congratulate the PNP for its diligence in investigating this particular case. At the same time, we call on the Peruvian government to demonstrate the same diligence in shedding light on the more than 15,000 cases of forced disappearances that have been awaiting investigation for more than 25 years. The families of the disappeared in Peru, just like Maj. Bazán’s, are desperate for news about their loved ones.
The disappeared are Peruvians just like any other, regardless of their color, creed, social condition or institutional affiliation. With each passing day, their relatives get older and eventually pass away without ever knowing the truth about what happened to their loved ones. As an organization, we believe that both state and society have a moral obligation to search for the disappeared on behalf of the families that so anxiously wait for their return.
We offer our solidarity to the family of Maj. Bazán during this difficult time, and we hope that in very short order they will find the answers that they so desperately seek and deserve.