Tagged: urgent

Take Action!: call for solidarity with Q’eqchi’ communities as they continue their 50 year struggle against Canadian mining companies


We’ve launched a call for solidarity with Q’eqchi’ communities in Guatemala who have been resisting violence from Canadian mining companies (most recently Hudbay Minerals) for over 50 years. On April 4th they’ll be bringing a landmark criminal case to court in Guatemala and I will be showing up on behalf of the Mining Injustice Solidarity Network and Breaking the Silence to bring the statement of solidarity as well as all signatures and endorsements we’ve gathered to the courthouse!

Please help us to reach 1000 signatures and to let these communities know that people around the world are paying attention, and are standing in solidarity with them in their long journey towards justice, towards the reclaiming of their territory, towards safety, peace and self-determination for their communities.
We have just over a week left to get almost 700 signatures! Please consider signing this solidarity statement and sharing it far and wide!
Here´s a small link to share: http://tinyurl.com/solidaritynow

Background info:

Murders. Violent forced evictions. Rapes. Land thefts. Shootings. Criminalization of dissent.

Q’eqchi’ communities in the Izabal region of Guatemala have faced an onslaught of these and other abuses over the past five decades at the hands of a series of Canadian mining companies who have owned the Fenix Nickel Project.

On April 4th 2014 a criminal trial will begin in Guatemala to seek justice for some of the countless acts of violence communities have faced – and continue to face – at the hands of these mining companies. On this day, Mynor Padilla, the former Head of Security for the mine, under the ownership of Canadian company Hudbay Minerals and local subsidiary CGN, will be tried for the murder of Aldofo Ich Chamán. Ich Chamán was a respected Maya Q’eqchi’ community leader, father of six, and an open critic of human rights violations and environmental damage caused by corporate mining activities. Padilla will also be tried for the shooting of seven others on the same date, September 27, 2009 near El Estor, Izabal: Haroldo Cucul Cucul, German Chub Coc, Alejandro Chuc, Ricardo Acte Coc, Samuel Coc Chub, Alfredo Tzi Ich, and Luciano Choc. One man, German Chub, lives with a number of grave medical conditions as a result of this shooting, including a collapsed lung and a spinal cord injury that has left him paraplegic.

In a series of separate civil cases being heard in Canada, Hudbay Minerals and CGN are being tried for these shootings and the murder of Ich Chamán, while Hudbay Minerals is additionally being tried for gang-rapes committed in a nearby community during an eviction.

Despite grave and ongoing violence, Indigenous communities in the region have been resisting encroachment on their territory by a series of mining companies for over 50 years. The commencement of the criminal case against former head of mine security, Mynor Padilla, is an important step towards justice for the the communities who have been actively defending their territory, their lives and their communities through their resistance against the mining project.

In the four and a half years since the violent events of September 2009 took place, victims, witnesses, and family members have struggled through a long and frustrating series of legal processes in order to have justice served. They are calling upon allies to join them in solidarity as the criminal trial begins on April 4th. Angelica Choc, the wife of Adolfo Ich, makes the request clear: “Let all of us who are fighting in defense of our territories unite to demand that justice be served.”

We want to make sure everyone involved in this struggle knows that they are not alone.Please sign and endorse this letter as a statement of your solidarity and concern with those harmed during the events of September 27, 2009, and with all other victims of violence carried out by mining companies in the region, the Maya Q’eqchi’ community of El Estor, and all those who defend their land, communities, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.


The Solidarity Statement:

To: communities harmed by Canadian mining in Izabal, Guatemala
As the trial begins concerning the murder of Adolfo Ich Chamán and the wounding of Haroldo Cucul Cucul, German Chub Coc, Alejandro Chuc, Ricardo Acte Coc, Samuel Coc Chub, Alfredo Tzi Ich, and Luciano Choc at the hands of a Canadian mining company, we want you to know that you are not alone.
Unfortunately, we know that the struggles of your communities against this new era of colonization carried out by the extractive industry are not new. We have witnessed that over the past 50 years you have faced innumerable acts of horrific violence and that continuing to resist has brought suffering and required immense sacrifice.We want to express our solidarity and concern with all those harmed during the events of September 27, 2009, and to denounce the murder of Adolfo Ich as a targeted act of violence against a respected Maya Q’eqchi’ community leader and an open critic of human rights violations and environmental damage caused by corporate mining activities.

We also stand in solidarity alongside all other victims of violence carried out by mining companies in the region, the Maya Q’eqchi’ community of El Estor, and all those who defend their land, communities, and the rights of Indigenous Peoples.

We know that today is but one step in the long journey towards justice, towards the reclaiming of your territory, towards safety, peace and self-determination for your communities.

Know that we stand with you today, tomorrow, and in the struggles to come.

In remembrance of all of those who have fallen, and with admiration for the strength and dignity of all of the women and men who have participated in this struggle.

[Your name]

I will be bringing the statement of solidarity as well as all signatures and endorsements to the courthouse as the trial begins on April 4th, 2014.



Amnesty International Urgent Action

(the urgent action below is reposted from here)

(EDIT: below I have also posted updated information and other ways to take action as shared by the Guatemala Human Rights Commission)



Several members of an indigenous peoples organization have been physically attacked and threatened in recent weeks in northern Guatemala. One member was killed. The others remain at risk.

The Council of K’iche’ Peoples (Consejo de los Pueblos K’iche’, CPK) is an organization based in Santa Cruz del Quiché in the department of Quiché that works on Indigenous Peoples rights, extractive industries and corruption issues. Aura Lolita Chavez is one of its leaders.

On 4 July CPK organised a peaceful demonstration against discrimination, alleged economic mismanagement and abuse of power by the mayor. At 4.15pm, after the demonstration, participants were returning to their community by bus when their vehicle was stopped by a group of 8 people, armed with stones, pocket knives, machetes and batons. As the group threw stones at the bus, several CPK members got off it to see what was happening. The group asked where Aura Lolita Chavez was and violently attacked two women and a girl who participated in the demonstration. The activists were injured, with two women reporting a knife wound and a fractured ankle respectively.

Previously, on 27 June, Gaspar Tipaz, CPK member and local leader, had received phone calls threatening him to death. A male caller asked him about the number of people who were going to attend a demonstration planned for 28 June and told him “tomorrow I’m going to kill you” (“Mañana te voy a matar”).

Weeks earlier, on 12 June, José Tavico Tzunun, another CPK leader, was killed by armed gunmen who raided his house at night. The house was a meeting point for CPK activists.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

  • Urging them to take immediate steps to provide appropriate protection to members of the executive committee of the CPK according to their wishes;
  • Calling on the authorities to order an independent, thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of José Tavico Tzunun, and the threats and attacks against CPK members;
  •  Reminding them that human rights defenders have a right to carry out their activities without any unfair restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders.


Attorney General
Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey
Fiscal General de la República
Ministerio Público
15a Avenida 15-16, Zona 1, Barrio Gerona Ciudad de Guatemala,
Fax: +502 2411 9210 Twitter:@mpclaudiapaz
Salutation: Estimada Sra. Fiscal General

Presidential Commission for Human Rights Carlos Morales
Executive Director
Comisión Presidencial para los Derechos Humanos (COPREDEH)

2 Av. 10-50 Zona 9, Guatemala City Guatemala
Fax: + 502 2334 0119

Salutation: Dear Director / Estimado Sr.Director

And copies to:
Consejo de los Pueblos K’iche’
Email: consejodepuebloskiches@yahoo.es


In Guatemala human rights defenders, including journalists and trade unionists, continue to be threatened, harassed and attacked, by those seeking to dissuade them from their work. In 2011 local organizations documented 402 cases of attacks and intimidation against local human rights defenders, whose work ranges from the protection of human rights of forcibly evicted indigenous communities to the investigation of human rights violation committed during the internal armed conflict. For more information, please see “Guatemala – Submission to the UN Human Rights Committee for the 104th session of the Human Rights Committee (12-30 March 2012)” (AI Index AMR 34/001/2012)”, available at http://www.amnesty.org/en/library/info/AMR34/001/2012/en


(what follows is reposted from the Guatemala Human Rights Commission listserv)

GHRC Denounces Attack on Lolita Chavez                                    


On July 4, Lolita Chavez, indigenous activist and human rights defender, narrowly escaped being lynched as four others were beaten by a violent group of people allied with Estuardo Castro, the mayor of Santa Cruz del Quiché and member of the ruling Patriot Party.
Although she avoided harm this time, GHRC is gravely concerned for Lolita’s ongoing safety and well-being. Likewise we are distressed by the harassment and attacks against other members of the K’iche’ People’s Council.
Lolita Chavez is a indigenous woman known for her warm smile, energetic personality, and her selfless commitment to the rural communities of Guatemala’s Quiché department. As a leader within the K’iche’ People’s Council (Consejo de Pueblos K’iche’s – CPK) Lolita has accompanied 87 communities in their struggles for self-determination and resistance to harmful development projects which could threaten the health of families and cause irreversible damage to the environment.
This opposition to “development at any cost” has placed these communities, and in particular the members of the CPK, at great risk. Powerful local, departmental, and national political figures — closely aligned with transnational corporations — have made it perfectly clear that they are not interested in consulting with indigenous communities or entering into real dialogue with local organization and leaders. Guatemalan authorities have instead responded with threats, defamation, intimidation, and violence.
On June 12th of this year José Tavico Tzunun, a member of the CPK who hosted meetings at his home, was assassinated by armed gunmen who broke into his house after midnight. A few days previous to the attack he had received a phone message that threatened: “If you continue to bring people together for meetings, you will pay the consequences…”
On June 26th Lolita, in representation of the CPK, presented a formal accusation against the mayor of Quiché, Estuardo Castro, for “abuse of power, racial discrimination, arrogance and authoritarianism, exclusion and marginalization” in his dealings with the indigenous communities. She also denounced a death threat against another community leader, Gaspar Tipaz Gómez, for his participation in the protests. Lolita added: “We hold the mayor and the municipal government responsible for anything that happens to us or our families.”
The Attack against Lolita
Around 4:15pm on July, 4, Lolita and other women were returning home from a peaceful gathering in Santa Cruz del Quiché to protest Mayor Castro’s blatant disregard for the opinions and proposals of the indigenous communities. When they arrived at the community of Xatinap Quinto La Laguna their bus was intercepted by eight people armed with knives, rocks, machetes, and other sharp objects. The assailants shouted “Mayor Castro is in charge here and we’re here to do the mayor’s justice.” They demanded that Lolita be handed over to them. When the community members refused, the mob threw rocks at the bus and forced three women and a child off the bus.
One woman, age 20, had her arms held behind her back while being beaten with a piece of wood. She also received a knife cut to her right wrist. Another woman, age 40, had her left eye scratched and her blouse torn. The third woman, 52, had her lip split open and her front teeth shattered when struck in the face by a rock. The 11 year-old girl had her left ankle fractured by another thrown rock.
Lolita avoided falling into the hands of the attackers because the bus driver decided to make a break for it and escape. Lolita immediately contacted the police, who took nearly half an hour to arrive on the scene. Once there, the officers instantly sided with the attackers saying that Lolita and the other members of the K’iche’ People’s Council were “delinquents and agitators” and that the authorities were “tired of having to listen to all of their demands.”
The tense situation was only diffused by the arrival of ambulances to attend to the injured women. None of the assailants was detained or arrested. In fact, in a perverse distortion of justice, the attackers claim that they were the victims and have filed charges against Lolita and the others. While absurd, these bogus charges could likely result in arrest warrants for Lolita and others.
Also troubling are reports from El Quiché that Lolita’s name is being disparaged during “official” news broadcasts on the local radio station accusing her of provoking disturbances in the area, an obvious attempt to criminalize her activism.
GHRC’s Concerns
GHRC laments that this incident is just the latest in a series of violent attacks against human rights defenders, particularly those defending the collective rights of indigenous communities to self-determination and the protection of their natural resources and the environment.
GHRC calls on the Guatemalan government to fully guarantee the safety and security of Lolita Chavez and the other members of the Consejo de Pueblos K’iche’.
GHRC calls on the Public Ministry to transfer the case of the murder of José Tavico Tzunun to the Office of the Human Rights Prosecutor, to guarantee that the investigation take into account the relevant human rights elements surrounding his assassination.
GHRC calls on the Interior Ministry to investigate the conduct of the police officers in the aftermath of the attack, in particular their refusal to arrest those responsible for this crime.
GHRC calls on the Mayor of Santa Cruz del Quiché and his municipal government to engage in honest dialogue with the participation of independent observers, to attend to the just demands of the communities and to immediately cease any and all actions designed to provoke division, discord and violence amongst the communities.
GHRC fully supports the rights of the indigenous communities of El Quiché to determine the type of development that best respects their rights and embodies their beliefs and world view. We reject the imposition of any external model that is based on exclusion and exploitation.
GHRC presents petition in case of Yolanda Oquelí

The attack against Lolita and her companions is the second against women community leaders in the last month. On June 13, anti-mining activist Yolanda Oquelí was shot on her way home. GHRC’s petition to support Yolanda and her community collected 772 signatures and was presented to the Guatemalan and US authorities. Yolanda is in stable condition and GHRC continues to monitor her situation and push for protection for the community and the arrest of her aggressors.

(photo courtesy of mimundo.org)

Send a postcard to Lolita and the members of the CPK!
GHRC will be delivering postcards with messages of support to these brave activists as they continue with the difficult and often dangerous work of defending indigenous rights and natural resources.
You can send a postcard to the GHRC office before July 27th, and GHRC staff will deliver it to Lolita and the K’iche’ People’s Council in Guatemala.
3321 12th St. NE
Washington, DC 20017
Don’t write in Spanish? Don’t worry!  You can start the postcard with “Estimados miembros del Consejo de Pueblos K’iche’s”. Below are some sample messages that you could send. Feel free to mix and match.
  • _Estoy_____ en solidaridad con Los Pueblos K’iche’s. (Or you can fill in the name of your group to say “_____stands in solidarity with the K’iche’ people”)
  • Respaldamos su lucha por sus derechos y la madre tierra. (We support your struggle for your rights and Mother Earth)
  • Que sigan adelante con la lucha para la dignidad de los pueblos K’iche’s. (Keep up the fight for the dignity of the K’iche’ people)
  • El pueblo de _____ presente en la lucha. (The people of ______ present in the struggle)
  • El pueblo unido jamás será vencido. (The people united will never be defeated)
  • Lamentamos la violencia contra de los miembros del Consejo de Pueblos K’iche’s. (We lament the violence against the members of the K’iche’ People’s Council.)
  • Apoyamos los derechos colectivos de los pueblos indígenas de Guatemala. (We support the collective rights of the indigenous people of Guatemala)
You can also write a letter to the Guatemalan Prosecutors Office and the Presidential Commission for Human Rights urging them to provide protection to the K’iche’ People’s Council and investigate the recent acts of violence.