November 16th, 2021 BTS hosted an event with Hiram Muralles Paz and Elisa Meza Paniagua, both family members of disappeared persons included in the Military Diary and plaintiffs in the transitional justice case of the same name.
The Military Diary Case (Caso Diario Militar) is founded on an uncovered document revealing the illegal detentions and murders of individuals considered internal enemies during the Internal Armed Conflict (IAC) and genocide in Guatemala from August 1983 until March 1985. Both Elisa and Hiram spoke about their loved ones who were disappeared and Elisa explained that many of the people targeted in the Military Diary became victims for “the simple fact of being organized: they weren’t doing anything bad, they were providing a common good.”
Due to the determination of the families of those who were killed or disappeared, The Military Diary case has been a force for revealing the truth and securing justice for over 183 victims of the system of violence and secrecy used during the IAC.
During the webinar, Hiram and Elisa shared their experiences taking this case forward and fighting the impunity that exists within the Guatemalan justice system.
Elisa explained how this case has given families an opportunity not only to find justice for their loved ones, but also to come face to face with the individuals who committed these crimes and have lived in impunity for so long. As a plaintiff, Elisa has been able to participate as witnesses and intervene in the court process.
Explaining the court the process and its impact, Elisa shared that to sit in front of the accused “fills me with strength because I know I am representing everyone who cannot be there… It fills me with love for everyone. Not only for my parents and my aunt but for all the people who were disappeared.”
Hiram spoke to the “hugely historical” character of the case, pointing out that the twelve military personnel who have been arraigned thus far were high-ranking officers, which has ignited the possibility to bring forward more cases to challenge the impunity that has “run rampant in [Guatemala] for decades and decades.”
Hiram commented that although the process of reliving painful memories through the case is difficult for his family, working with the prosecution and solidarity groups in Guatemala to finally uncover the truth has been “reenergizing for me and my family, giving us wind under our wings. We feel close to finding out my father’s whereabouts and the chance to give my father a proper burial.”
When asked by BTS network members what the role is for solidarity organizations to support the Military Diary case, Elisa and Hiram touched on the impact of intimidation and corruption on their work. Currently, the press, organized groups, the judiciary, and families live under significant fear and threat.
Despite these dangers, Elisa shared that supporting the case was a struggle and opportunity she had to take on because “it was a story and a process owed to a lot of people.”
Hiram shared that “myself and my family, we are very much involved. We are not going to stop and nobody is going to keep us quiet anymore. They never have and they never will. We know what is at stake: not just for my father’s case, but on behalf of the other 183 cases involved and this is only the beginning. Hopefully, this will open up the door to many, many, countless other cases.”
The next hearing date for the Caso Diario Militar will be in January 2022.
You can access updates in Spanish on the case here: http://twitter.com/CasoDiarioM
You can access translations of updates from the Caso Diario Militar here in English, French, and Spanish:
You can access a video of the webinar here: