Peru: Christians to Help Investigate Crimes
Officials are asking Christian leaders in the country to help improve human rights in Peru and to investigate unsolved crimes committed during the nation's internal war.
Amnesty International says that Tupac Amaru, the Shining Path, and Peru's government assassinated more than 25,000 people from 1980 to 2000. In many of the cases, police have not charged anyone.
During the conflict, leftist Shining Path and Tupac Amaru rebels attempted to bring down the government. Hundreds of innocent Peruvians went to jail after authorities accused them of being rebels.
In 1995, evangelicals and others pressured the government to review cases of wrongful imprisonment. A tribunal freed more than 500 people who were found innocent, including 100 evangelical Christians.
On October 9, Truth and Reconciliation Commission Chairman Salomon Lerner signed an accord with three Christian groups. The three are:
- The Peace and Hope Association (an evangelical relief and legal services organization).
- The National Council of Evangelicals of Peru.
- The Catholic Church's Episcopal Commission on Social Action.
Officials say Christian leaders will help gather fresh information about unsolved crimes and find new ways to inform Peruvians about their civil rights. The leaders may also serve as advocates for victims.
Many Protestants suffered during the conflict, officials say, and many of their churches were in areas under guerrilla control. Some experts estimate that evangelicals accounted for nearly half of those injured or killed. Protestants constitute about 7 percent of the population.
See the 2001 International Religious Freedom Report on Peru.