PBI-Guatemala observes commemoration of the lives lost in the Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asuncion shelter fire
On September 19, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted on its Facebook page, “Yesterday we observed a ceremony in the central park to commemorate the 41 girls burned in the Safe Home.”
PBI-Guatemala adds, “In addition to denouncing the violence against women and girls, the participants demanded the return of the memorial that has been installed with crosses for the girls, which was removed last week by state officials.”
Forty-one girls, who were 14 to 17 years of age, died in a fire at the Hogar Seguro Virgen de la Asuncion shelter south-east of Guatemala City on March 8, 2017.
The Guardian has reported, “It has 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.”
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.