Fredy Peccerelli: A forensic anthropologist who brings closure for the "disappeared"
Fredy Peccerelli - Forensic anthropologist
Fredy Peccerelli works with families whose loved ones “disappeared” in the 36-year armed conflict in Guatemala. The executive director of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation, he helps locate bodies and give back identities to those buried in mass graves. Full bio
a 36-year armed conflict.
during the Cold War.
a small leftist insurgency
is 200,000 civilian victims,
killed in the communities:
the elderly even.
about 40,000 others, the missing,
are Mayan victims,
defend us, the police, the military,
most of the crimes.
they want information.
what they want is they want you,
that their loved ones did nothing wrong.
received death threats in 1980.
and I went to New Utrecht High School
was happening in Guatemala.
to do something about it.
to look for the bodies,
and to look for part of myself as well.
we give people information.
and we let them choose.
us the stories,
give us a piece of themselves.
going to compare
from the skeletons.
we're looking for the bodies.
happened 32 years ago.
the body, document it, and exhume it.
skeleton out of the ground.
we take them back to the city, to our lab,
to understand mainly two things:
wound to the back of the head
is who they are.
with that analysis
fragment of the bone
DNA of the families, of course.
is by showing you two cases.
of the military diary.
out of somewhere in 1999.
is the state following individuals,
wanted to change their country,
down is when they executed them.
you see a code,
means when they were executed.
into play in a second.
an exhumation in 2003,
from 53 graves in a military base.
of Sergio Saul Linares.
at the university.
to change his country.
February 23, 1984.
executed on March 29, 1984,
information and their DNA,
that told us exactly what happened.
two weeks later,
also matched the DNA of that family.
that he was also in the diary.
also executed on March 29, 1984.
how many bodies were in the grave?
were executed on March 29, 1984?
Moises and Zoilo.
all captured at different locations
was the DNA of those four families
and we found them.
and gave them back to the families.
but the acronym really means
for Peacekeeping Operations.
trains peacekeepers from other countries,
like Haiti and the Congo.
within this military base,
and about two hours after we went in,
a total of 533 bodies.
on top of bodies.
hands tied behind their backs,
who were being executed.
was a grave full of women and children,
a case like this?
that happened on May 14, 1982,
in helicopters to an unknown location.
clothing from the region
were taken from.
and guess what?
and Manuel Chen.
and now we could prove it.
proves that this happened
were taken to this base.
clothes, and she left him with a neighbor.
a helicopter and never seen again
with anthropology, with genetics,
giving a voice to the voiceless.
evidence for trials,
last year in Guatemala
of genocide and sentenced to 80 years.
that this is happening everywhere --
right in front of us today --
any more missing.
About the speaker:Fredy Peccerelli - Forensic anthropologist
Fredy Peccerelli works with families whose loved ones “disappeared” in the 36-year armed conflict in Guatemala. The executive director of the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation, he helps locate bodies and give back identities to those buried in mass graves.
Why you should listen
In Guatemala’s brutal civil war, 200,000 civilians were killed — and more than 40,000 of them were never found. They are referred to as the “disappeared,” and since the end of the conflict, their bodies have been found in unmarked mass graves with very little information to identify them.
Fredy Peccerelli has a personal connection to this tragic story. He was born in Guatemala, but when his father received threats from a death squad, his family left for the United States. It was 1980 and Peccerelli was 9. He quickly adapted to life in Brooklyn, New York. But in 1994, while a college student, he heard a presentation on the emerging field of forensic anthropology. The speakers talked about exhuming bodies from mass graves in Guatemala, and Peccerelli was fascinated. He wanted to help.
Peccerelli founded the Guatemalan Forensic Anthropology Foundation, which meets with the families of the “disappeared,” listens to their stories and takes DNA samples to match to exhumed bodies. In this way, they are able to piece together narratives of what happened — in order to give families closure and to provide evidence for the trials of those involved in the deaths.
Pecerrelli has been profiled on PBS, in The New York Times and more. He recently launched the “No More Missing” campaign to raise money for an interactive website to tell the stories of the Guatemalan "disappeared" on the global stage. He wants people across the world to see the connection between what happened Guatemala and what is happening today in countries like Mexico.
Fredy Peccerelli | Speaker | TED.com