Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) was created to investigate what happened during the years 1980 to 2000, when Peru endured an internal conflict between government and opposing forces that left as many as 60,000 people dead or disappeared. In the Supreme Decree number 065-2001-PCM, the state declared these objectives for the TRC: determine the causes of the violence in Peru between May 1980 and November 2000, contribute to the investigation of the crimes and human rights violations perpetrated during that period, identify, when possible, the perpetrators responsible for these violent acts, elaborate proposals to make reparations to the victims and their families, recommend the implementation of reforms as preventive measures, and establish follow-up mechanisms for these recommendations.
Peru's Truth and Reconciliation Commission
Among the many painful choices that every postconflict community must make, one in particular is both unavoidable and necessary: to remember or to forget. In forming a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, Peru has chosen to remember. It has thereby opted for truth. It is a moral decision that requires courage and maturity.
In coming to terms with two decades of violence, Peru’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s underlying task has been the search for facts, information, and evidence, and the connections between them. The images shown here represent a part of the truth we were charged to recover.
Our responsibility was to offer the country a portrait of itself, to reconstruct the experiences of the victims of the violence. The images selected for this exhibition come from a bank of 1,725 photographs belonging to more than 90 photographic archives. They capture the events that occurred between 1980 and 2000, and attempt to create a visual narrative of a period that caused the deaths or forced disappearance of as many as 60,000 people.
These photographs document the resistance of thousands of men and women in terrible circumstances. The desolation and perplexity written on their faces is the most powerful testimony about Peru’s tragedy. At the same time the photographs give us an urgent mandate: to ensure that the past is never forgotten, either on purpose or through indifference. And it compels us to write our recent history with an understanding of the causes, integrating into this knowledge the memory of those who suffered in silence.
By showing these images, the Truth and Reconciliation Commission wishes to acknowledge those professionals, who in spite of the heat of the violence looked at the victims with eyes of compassion and solidarity. The Commission is also offering all Peruvians the visual evidence of a history that we must not only understand, but also identify as our own. Only then can we build a more peaceful and humane country.
—Salomón Lerner Febres, President, Truth and Reconciliation Commission, October 2003