Guayaquil, Ecuador, Sep 27 (EFE).- Some 20 family members of the inmates killed in Ecuador’s largest prison massacre last year in Guayaquil held a vigil on Tuesday night to remember the more than 120 victims and demand justice and reparation one year on.
“They have the right to memory, to remember the human rights violations of their relatives who lost their lives,” Fernando Bastidas of the Permanent Committee for the Defense of Human Rights, an organization that supports the victims’ families, told EFE. “But they are also on the path of demanding justice and truth.”
After the first of two masses held one year after the Sep. 28, 2021 tragedy, the families arrived at San Francisco square in the center of the port city of Guayaquil and lit candles to honor their deceased children, brothers, parents and husbands.
“My nephew was in that massacre and we are here to see if the government takes up the matter… that there are no more massacres, because it is the worst thing that can happen to a human being, because of the way in which they die in there,” Elizabeth Corozo told EFE.
Since 2020, more than 400 inmates have been killed in clashes between rival criminal gangs vying for internal control of prisons.
However, the massacre on Sep. 28, 2021 was unprecedented. An intense exchange of gunfire began that night and lasted for several hours.
Soon photos and videos of the bodies of those inside pavilion 5 of Prison No. 1 of Guayaquil, better known as Litoral Penitentiary, went viral on social media.
Hundreds of people arrived at the prison in search of news of their family members but found that there was no record of the victims.
They had to gave physical details of their relatives so that the forensic police could identify them more quickly.
“It took us three days to find him. We could not even keep a vigil for him because he was already in a state of decomposition,” Corozo added.
The exact number of the victims of the massacre remains unclear as the national prison service (SNAI) puts it at 122, while the families say it is 125.
Another person at the vigil was Jhon Campuzano. His father was also killed inside the prison along with 65 other inmates in another clash on Nov. 12, 2021.
The victims’ families have set up a committee with the aim of demanding full reparation from the State and pressuring the authorities to criminally prosecute the officials “who allowed these massacres to occur,” Bastidas said.
“They are not asking for the prosecution of the person who pulled the trigger or cut off the arm or leg (…) They are asking that whoever caused these massacres by omission be brought to justice,” he added.
On Wednesday, the families will have a meeting with a delegation of the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture of the United Nations to tell them what they have gone through over the past year. EFE