Summary: Release of “Yellow Book” confirms human rights abuses by military during Salvadoran civil war

El Salvador, 29th September 2014: A document has today been released listing the names of Salvadoran citizens identified as “enemies” by the armed forces during the country’s 12-year civil war (1979-1992), during which hundreds of people were victims of human rights violations including torture, forced disappearance, and illegal imprisonment.

The document, known as the Yellow Book, was created by the Salvadoran armed forces during the war and identifies nearly 2,000 people who were deemed “delinquent terrorists” by the military during the 1980s. It includes labour leaders, human rights advocates, politicians, and other civilians, along with corresponding photographs and notes on their alleged connections to suspect organisations including unions, political parties and rebel groups. The list includes El Salvador’s current President, Salvador Sánchez Cerén, who is a former guerrilla leader.

The release of the document is a collaboration by SRT grantee HRDAG, the Unfinished Sentences project, the University of Washington Center for Human Rights and the National Security Archive.

HRDAG analysis suggests that many civilians named in the document were targeted for extrajudicial punishment by the military. By analysing the names against reports of human rights violations registered by Salvadoran human rights organisations and the UN Truth Commission from 1980 to 1992, HRDAG has determined that 43 percent of the names in the Yellow Book correspond with the names of victims in the databases.

Patrick Ball, executive director of HRDAG, said, “Our work with the University of Washington Center for Human Rights and the National Security Archive supports the public’s call for the Salvadoran Armed Forces to open their archives. The truth about the military’s intelligence operations – and the violence that resulted – has long been hidden. It’s time for accountability.”

Detailed information about HRDAG’s data analysis is available at www.unfinishedsentences.organd, along with related analysis and declassified US documents.

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