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The “Yellow Book” of the Armed Forces
Latinamerica Press
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Confidential document of military top officials reveals persecution of government opponents during armed conflict.

The names, nicknames and photos of 1,975 individuals classified as “delinquent terrorists” were included in a 270-page report created on July 1987 by the Salvadoran military. The existence of this document, called the “Yellow Book,” was revealed on September 28 by the National Security Archive (NSA), the University of Washington Center for Human Rights and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group.

“Is the first-ever confidential Salvadoran military document to be made public,” states an electronic bulletin of the NSA. “And the only evidence to appear from the Salvadoran Army´s own files of the surveillance methods used by security forces to target Salvadoran citizens during the country´s 12-year civil war.”

The “Yellow Book,” compiled by the Intelligence Department of the Joint Staff of the Armed Forces, consists of a systematic list with 1,915 entries, 1,857 identified by name, photograph, and alleged connection to suspect organizations, including unions, political parties and rebel groups of the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN).

A hand-written note on the document´s cover page asks the reader to “use it” and “make copies of the photographs and put them on your bulletin board so you will know your enemies,” indicating that the report was intended to aid security forces in identifying the opposition.

Amnesty Law
The armed conflict in El Salvador between the Armed Forces and the FMLN between 1980 and 1992 left about 75,000 dead and 8,000 disappeared. After the signing of the Peace Accords, a Truth Commission was created to investigate the serious human rights violations committed during those years, and both parties agreed to respect the Commission´s recommendations. However, the National Assembly´s passage of the Amnesty Law ended the possibility of prosecuting war crimes.

The publication of the “Yellow Book” — along with an analysis of its content and relevant declassified documents from the United States — shows that many of the individuals mentioned in the document were in fact dead or disappeared while others were captured, tortured and released.

“The [US] researchers cross referenced names listed in the ‘Yellow Book´ with four historical databases of reports of human rights violations collected from 1980-1992. This process found 273 names in the ‘Yellow Book´, or 15 percent, that matched reports of killings or extrajudicial executions; 233 or 13 percent matching reports of forced disappearance; 274 or 15 percent matching reports of torture; and 538 or 29 percent matching reports of detention or arrest. In total, at least 43 percent of names listed in the ‘Yellow Book´ correspond with these historical human rights databases,” explains the NSA.

“The appearance of the ‘Yellow Book´ challenges years of stonewalling by El Salvador´s army and security forces about their role in the bloody civil war,” points the NSA. “The refusal of the Salvadoran government to release its official records was especially frustrating to the UN Truth Commission. While the commission had access to survivor testimonies, evidence gathered from exhumations, published human rights reports, and thousands of declassified U.S. documents, its repeated requests to the Salvadoran government for access to state archives were ignored.” —Latinamerica Press.

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