Berkeley professor to testify in trial of former Guatemalan dictator

ATTENTION: Reporters covering Latin America, human rights, indigenous communities and legal affairs

WHAT: Anthropologist and UC Berkeley Professor, Beatriz Manz has been called to testify as an expert eyewitness in the genocide trial of former Guatemalan military dictator General Efraín Ríos Montt in Guatemala City this week.

Ríos Montt faces charges of genocide and crimes against humanity stemming from massacres of the country’s indigenous population by Guatemalan troops during a civil war that stretched from 1960 to 1996. He ruled the country from 1982-1983. His trial marks the first time a former head of state has been prosecuted for genocide in his home country rather than in an international criminal court. The case is an important milestone for international human rights cases in terms of holding political and military leaders accountable for war crimes.

WHEN:  A live video stream of the trial – including Manz’s testimony – is available on USTREAM:ás. Meanwhile, the Open Society Justice Initiative has launched a trial-monitoring website to provide reporting and analysis of the trial: The trial is in its second week and may continue for additional weeks.

WHO: Manz is one of only two qualified eye witnesses from outside of Guatemala testifying in the trial. She belongs to what some have dubbed a “tough, high-risk sorority” of human rights researchers and anthropologists, who for years have documented human rights abuses.

Manz has studied Mayan communities in Guatemala and in the San Francisco Bay Area, and continued work in Guatemala even during the early 1980s, when violence was at its peak. She is the author of “Refugees of a Hidden War: the Aftermath of Counterinsurgency in Guatemala,” about displacement and human rights abuses by the military against indigenous rural communities, and “Paradise in Ashes: A Guatemalan Journey of Courage, Terror and Hope,” about a Guatemalan village settled in the early 1970s and destroyed by the military in 1982. Manz is the former chair of both UC Berkeley’s Center for Latin American Studies (CLAS) and Ethnic Studies Department.

DETAILS: Manz will be available for interviews after the trial concludes. For more information, contact Jacqueline Sullivan at CLAS at (510) 642-2088.

For more information about the trial, Naomi Roht-Arriaza, a professor of law at UC Hastings and an authority on international human rights and international criminal law, is available for interviews and reachable at