Thursday, September 20, 2012

Brazil Truth Commission

Brazil's Truth Commission will only investigate abuses by the military government. Of course, the military is not happy.

Retired military officers criticized the announcement, saying the panel must also look into violations committed by leftist guerrillas who opposed the regime. 
Retired admiral Ricardo Antonio da Veiga Cabral said by telephone that the commission's decision will result in an "unfinished, one-side investigation in which only half the truth will be known." 
"Crimes were committed by both sides, so both sides must be investigated," he said. 
Retired officers often express the opinion of the armed forces since military personnel are prohibited by law from doing so publicly.

Actually, including opposition abuses helps the opposition because there are so few in comparison. In the case of Guatemala, for example, you get the following:

  • "State forces and related paramilitary groups were responsible for 93% of the violations documented" (Final Report, English Version, para. 15).
  • "Insurgent actions produced 3% of the human rights violations and acts of violence” (Final Report, English Version, para. 21).

In other words, this emphasizes the overwhelming state role and prevents the military from falsely claiming that both sides were relatively equal.

Update: for a different view, see Colin Snider.


Anonymous,  8:39 AM  

In Argentina there are many who propagate the lie that the left was peaceful and has no responsibility for the Dirty War. That is ridiculous. The entire society was traumatized during those years. There may not be equality in the scale of the killing but the individuals and organizations who did terrorize the public on behalf of their revolutionary ideologies should be treated the same way in terms of public accountability whether it is publicity, prosecution or amnesty. To do otherwise creates an Orwellian truth that undermines any democratic foundation for the present and future.

Randy Paul 1:50 PM  

Jcobo Timmerman was key to that understanding in Argentina as hefaced death threats from both left and right. FWIW, I will never forgive Hebe Bonafini for her delight at the 9/11 attacks (scroll down to bottom):

The death of innocents is still the death of innocents.

I have to give Greg the advantage over Colin here.

Lillie Langtry 2:33 AM  

I'd like to believe that you're right that the statistics will speak for themselves, but I think the first comment on this post contradicts that hope. It dismisses in half a sentence the difference in scale between the abuses committed by state and non-state actors and then represents them as equally responsible. "There may not be equality in the scale of the killing but...".

Anonymous,  10:04 AM  

My statement acknowledges the difference in scale but does not dismiss the human rights crimes committed by the state at all. It suggests that people who committed crimes in the name of revolutionary ideologies should also be addressed. To do otherwise is to say that killing innocents in the name of left wing revolutionary ideology is justified but that state sponsored repression of this is not. The Montoneros and the many other revolutionary groups were formed and acted out their plans long before the Dirty War, during periods of democracy and dictatorship. The victims were often everyday people who are now told their suffering and loss doesn't matter much to the state.

Colin Snider 11:44 AM  

I actually don't think you're necessarily wrong, but at least in the case of Brazil, I'm not convinced a focus on the state necessarily prevents us from being able to get at the overall percentages of state vs. opposition violence, for reasons I outlined here:

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