Dr. Carranza Ko speaks on genocide in Peru in her cultural event lecture

Dr.+Carranza+Ko+speaks+on+genocide+in+Peru+in+her+cultural+event+lecture

On Oct. 1, students were able to participate in a Zoom webinar concerning political turmoil in Peru. The lecture was hosted by Dr. Ñusta Carranza Ko, an associate professor from the School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Baltimore, as well as Dr. Thomas Ward, a professor of Spanish and the director of the Latin American and Latino Studies program at Loyola.

Carranza Ko offered students new perspectives on an often-overlooked case in international affairs by discussing the political turmoil in Peru during the administration of President Alberto Fujimori. This conflict was between the state and leftist guerilla groups, and caused detrimental effects for thousands of indigenous peoples, particularly “women (and some men) of poor, rural, and Indigenous-languages-speaking backgrounds who were sterilized without consent,” as Carranza Ko states in her published journal.

The professor raised questions during her research from her extensive studies of Peru’s history and culture as to why the U.N. and the Peruvian government were adamant on hesitating from identifying what had happened as “genocide.” 

“The Truth and Reconciliation Commission… finalized their report regarding the internal armed conflict that Peru had from 1980 to 2000”, the professor said, “and it was never specified why that particular group of victims…were missing” from the report.

Carranza Ko continued to specify the importance of the issue at hand, citing Peru’s Ministry of Health.

“Health officials performed a total of 272,028 sterilizations, the majority of which [were done to those that were] poor, rural, and indigenous women that spoke Quechua,” the professor said. 

The Ministry of Health defines the Peruvian government’s Program of Reproductive Health and Family Planning (PSRPF) procedures as “surgical procedures of sterilization performed on a person against their will or without their free and informed consent,” according to Carranza Ko.

Unfortunately, Carranza Ko informed students in the lecture that “the broad consensus [of the literature] examining this case is from the perspective of sexual violations; indigenous rights and reproductive rights violations…but no mention of genocide.”

On the contrary, she also mentioned “transnational advocacy networks and domestic nongovernmental organizations coordinating with one another to push the state to recognize [the killings] as a crime” in accordance with the laws and obligations established by the U.N.’s Genocide Convention

The forced sterilizations, in addition to the blatant human rights violations, the professor argues, violates Article II of the Convention, which defines genocide as “acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group.” Article 319 of Peru’s Penal Code very similarly defines it as “having the intention to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, and social or religious group.”

Additionally, despite the thousands of victims amongst the conflict during the 1990s, Carranza Ko does not believe it matters who or what organization was primarily responsible. 

“Out of the 69,000 victims that come out from the internal armed conflict, two decades of internal armed conflict…the predominant majority happens to be indigenous,” she said. “Whether it was from the state security forces that inflicted these casualties, or it was from the leftist guerrilla forces involved, it does not matter.”

As of today, the victims and those affected have still not been rightly compensated, and the brutality that was brought upon them has yet to be fully recognized. 

“Where is the justice for the indigenous people and [what happened to them]? Where is the justice for them?” Carranza Ko said.

During the Q&A segment, one student watching the webinar asked what would theoretically happen “if [the crime of] genocide can be established?”

The professor said, “In a perfect world, the Peruvian state is made to ‘pay for reparations.’ My concern is: would the state follow up and do that if it is under the government…and if Fujimori’s people are re-elected into office?…I think that it may be more important to establish this at the Inter-American Court of Rights, and from there, take it so that it builds even more of a momentum so that the state does have to listen to them, because then you have more pressure coming at the international level to the Peruvian state.”

Another student asked, as Dr. Ward put it, “a simple question but an important one: ‘What can we do to support this population?’”

Amnesty International is a great way to get involved…I know people don’t believe in the power of social media campaigns sometimes…but they do make an impact. The other way to best support this population, support indigenous peoples…is for those who are avid users of social media: DEMUS [is the] only organization that has been very much active with forced sterilization victims. [Students] can also know that there are foreigners, people in the U.S., that are tuning in about this particular case,” Carranza Ko said.

Keep up-to-date with The Greyhound for additional news coverage of cultural events and other sponsored lectures.

Featured Image courtesy of rial1975 via Flickr Creative Commons