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!
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:
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.
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.
(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)
MEMBERS OF INDIGENOUS ORGANISATION ATTACKED
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.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 29 AUGUST 2012 TO:
Claudia Paz y Paz Bailey
Fiscal General de la República
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
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’
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
|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)
- _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)