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.
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The Terrorism Research Center site has more information on the Shining Path and Tupac Amaru.
International Christian Concern has more details on the situation in Peru.
See the 2001 International Religious Freedom Report on Peru.
Previous Christianity Today articles on Peru include:
Peru's Churches Want Inquiry into Why Missionary Plane Was Shot DownChristian leaders lament "absurd, excessive use of force" that killed Roni Bowers and her infant daughter. (May 2, 2001)
Divorcing a DictatorEvangelicals assess the bitter lessons of the Fujimori years.(Jan. 25, 2001)
Peru's Shining Path Still Taking PrisonersAs government shifts in turmoil, thousands of forced "accomplices" are still unfairly imprisoned. (Nov. 27, 2000)
Christian Human Rights Agency Burglarized in PeruStolen files contained information on more than 5,000 forced disappearances. (Nov. 15, 2000)
Peru's Churches Welcome Fujimori's Decision to Call New ElectionAfter riots and videotapes of bribes, Peru pushes its current president for the opportunity to vote again. (Sept. 27, 2000)
Imprisoned Peruvian Army Colonel Denied ParoleEvangelical convicted of drug trafficking continues fight for justice as hope fades. (Sept. 7, 2000)
Imprisoned Evangelicals Dispute Accusations of Terrorism(Feb. 9, 1998)
In 1997, World magazine covered the troubling Peruvian hostage situation.
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