Peruvian Terrorists Murder Christian Leader

Friday, March 24, 2000

by Deann Alford

AUSTIN, Texas, March 24 (Compass) -- An evangelical Peruvian village leader was executed March 20 after Marxist guerrillas declared him guilty of taking part in police and military activities.

Antonio Izuisa Chasnamote, the mayor of Ramal de Aspuzana, died from two gunshots wounds to the head following a "people's trial" conducted by some 20 terrorists, who identified themselves as members of the Shining Path rebel group. They had captured Izuisa as he returned from a sports outing with his eight children, who witnessed his execution.

"La Republica" newspaper of Lima reported that Izuisa, 60, asked the terrorists to not kill him "because, as an evangelical, he preached the Word of God in the community."

Attorney Jose Vinces of the Lima-based evangelical legal defense organization Peace and Hope Association said that his contacts in the area believed Izuisa to be an Assemblies of God leader. Peru's national Assemblies office, however, reported that they have no pastor by that name.

The murder occurred in Ramal de Aspuzana, a jungle community some 60 miles from the east-central city of Tingo Maria and approximately 225 miles northeast of Lima. The region had been a hotbed of terrorist activity before the capture of Shining Path leader Abimael Guzman in 1992. Since then, sporadic Shining Path violence has broken the prevailing peace in Tingo Maria and its surrounding region.

Recently, guerrillas have been more active in the region, Vinces said. "Shining Path incursions have increased in the area in an attempt to force and threaten people to not vote in upcoming presidential elections," he said.

The manner in which Izuisa died was typical of the Shining Path. "The guerrillas target individuals for 'liquidation' by having a 'people's trial' and then killing them," Vinces said.

While Izuisa probably was not killed directly for his faith, Christians in Peru's rural communities often have been targets of violence because of their refusal to choose sides in the conflict and for their non-communist beliefs. "Those who have leadership posts in town affairs or are involved in human rights work can be targeted," Vinces said. "It's not just evangelicals who are targets."

Villagers who witnessed the execution did not protest the terrorists' actions for fear of being killed themselves, "La Republica" reported.

Peru's military maintains an anti-subversive base near Ramal de Aspuzana. Police and the Peruvian army are stepping up patrols in search of the terrorist murderers, the newspaper said.

Copyright © 2000 Compass Direct News Service. Used with permission.