PBI-Guatemala accompanies TZ’KAT at ceremony for girls who died in state home fire

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On September 7, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted, “Yesterday we accompanied TZ’KAT, the Network of Ancestral Healers, in the Plaza de las Niñas. They held a ceremony to remember the girls who died burned on March 8, 2017 in a state home. The ceremony commemorated all the girls who have been victims of sexual violence.”

Forty-one girls died in that fire at the Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asuncion shelter.

The Guardian has reported, “It emerged that 56 girls had been locked inside a room measuring 6.8 metres by 7 metres as punishment for organising a protest the day before against cramped conditions and abuse by staff. More than 700 children lived at the home, which had capacity for 400-500.”

“The fire, which began in the early hours, sparked angry demonstrations in the capital over the government’s failure to protect young people in its care. Complaints about abuse at the centre had been made, but not followed up. A month before the fire, Guatemala’s human rights commission had asked for it to be closed.”

That November 2017 Guardian article also noted, “Lawyers are now trying to remove president Jimmy Morales’ immunity from prosecution while in office, so that he can also be held accountable.”

Edgar Pérez, the director of BDH (The Human Rights Law Firm) says, “The president contributed to the explosion. He lit the match.”

In March 2019, Al Jazeera reported, “Several government employees, including police, are now on trial for their role in the fire. The girls were locked in a room and shelter officials waited for nine minutes as the girls burned before they unlocked the door.”

“Some of the victims of the March 8, 2017 fire in the Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asuncion shelter had run away from home, fleeing abuse and sexual assault by relatives. But many faced more of the same inside the shelter.”

That article adds, “For years, girls reported being raped and forced into prostitution inside the state-run facility, but their protests were ignored.”

Further background on this can be read in The Irish Times at Deaths of 41 girls in Guatemalan care home fire reveal terrible cruelty.

PBI-Guatemala has accompanied TZ’KAT since February 2018, Edgar Pérez since August 2010 and the BDH law firm since the end of 2013.

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