Where are they? The Disappeared!


The armed internal conflict resulted in thousands of missing and disappeared people. This excerpt from Geography of Grace by Joel Van Dyke and Kris Rocke tells the story of the FAFG who is working to bring closure to families who are missing a loved one.

“One of the most powerful experiences of mapping the hurt, hope and heart of a place for us has been with the Forensic Anthropology Foundation of Guatemala (FAFG). The FAFG uses forensic science to investigate human rights violations that occurred during Guatemala’s 30-year internal armed conflict. Forensic anthropologists exhume mass graves, identify the bodies through interviews from witnesses and DNA samplings, and then determine the cause of death to create the possibility for criminal prosecutions. FAFG has exhumed more than 5,000 of the more than 200,000 skeletal remains of victims of the war, 20% of which are children….

The work of the FAFG teaches us that while the victors usually write history, in modern-day Guatemala there are chapters that can only be written in the blood of these innocent victims. Through their silent tears, truth is slowly being uncovered and hope regained for a devastated people….

As the bones of each ‘case’ are carefully laid out on tables and the skeletons reassembled, they slowly take the shape of a person. The bones begin to speak and tell the story of what happened until they eventually are reconnected to their names, faces and histories. Their stories are honored, and they are then ultimately returned to their families for burial.”

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