Residents in eastern Peru’s Amazon region believe there are more mass graves from the country’s internal conflict that remain hidden under the thick tropical forest.
The native communities of Mapotoa and Yaynapango, located in Junin region’s Satipo province, said that another 200 bodies, including children, have yet to be found in nearby mass graves, according to RPP Noticias. The individuals would have been the victims of Peru’s bloody internal conflict between Maoist Shining Path guerrillas and state security forces.
Ashaninka community members believe that the victims would have been indigenous people from the rugged Ene River Valley, who were tortured and killed by the Shining Path.
Thousands of native people from central-eastern Peru, particularly among the Ashaninka communities, suffered in the crossfire between the Shining Path and the counterinsurgency troops trained and based in the nearby Mazamari area during the 1980s and 1990s. Women and especially children were kidnapped and enslaved, and whole hamlets were burned down, as the Ashaninka refused to assist or submit to the Shining Path, while other hamlets were attacked and raised by the counterinsurgency groups because they were suspected of aiding the Shining Path.
The possibility of more mass graves in the area comes only a couple weeks after reports emerged that 15 mass graves were found in the same area. A local resident, Jose Huaraca, told RPP that there are between 15 and 30 bodies in each grave.
The news of these mass graves comes in the same week that an Ashaninka survivor of the Shining Path violence, Ruth Buendía, has been awarded the Goldman Environmental Award for her work in defending her people’s territories, specifically against the Pakitzapango and Tambo 40 hydroelectric projects on the Ene River.
Some 69,000 people were killed during Peru’s internal conflict, many of whom were rural, indigenous people caught in the cross-fire between the leftist rebel groups and the state’s security forces.