Featured Article: UW Center for Human Rights, National Security Archive & HRDAG release secret Salvadoran military intelligence document: the “Yellow Book”


This article was  reposted from UnfinishedSentences.org. For the original article, click HERE.

The “Yellow Book,” a 1980s-era document from the archives of El Salvador’s military intelligence, identifies almost two thousand Salvadoran citizens who were considered “delinquent terrorists” by the Armed Forces, among them current President Salvador Sánchez Cerén, a former guerrilla leader. Other individuals listed include human rights advocates, labor leaders, and political figures, many known to have been victims of illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial execution, forced disappearance, and other human rights abuses.

On September 28th, in recognition of International Right to Know Day, the Yellow Book has been published in its entirety at unfinishedsentences.org and nsarchive.org, along with related analysis and declassified U.S. documents, through a collaboration between the National Security Archive, theUniversity of Washington Center for Human Rights and the Human Rights Data Analysis Group.

“Salvadorans have a right to know who their government targeted and why,” said Angelina Snodgrass Godoy, Director of the University of Washington Center for Human Rights. “We hope that the Yellow Book will be of use to victims and survivors seeking truth and accountability for the crimes committed against them and their loved ones.”

Analysis by the Human Rights Data Analysis Group has determined that approximately 43% of entries in the Yellow Book correspond with reports of human rights violations registered by Salvadoran human rights organizations and the U.N. Truth Commission during the period of 1980 to 1992.

The current publication includes three case studies, two featuring recent interviews with survivors of illegal detention and torture who are profiled in the Yellow Book. “To live to see this book, it makes you feel happy to be alive, that they weren’t able to kill you,” said Héctor Bernabé Recinos, a union leader arrested in 1980 who appears in the document. “Because the decision to eliminate you had been close.”

“For more than twenty years, El Salvador’s military establishment has stonewalled victims and their families about its role in human rights abuses committed during the civil war,” said Kate Doyle, Senior Analyst of U.S. policy in Latin America at the National Security Archive. “The publication of the Yellow Book is a direct challenge to the military’s continued silence and its refusal to release its historical archives relating to that era.”

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Salvadorans, solidarity groups and faith partners gather in September 2023 to decry human rights abuses in El Salvador and continued U.S. support (photo: CISPES)