Breaking the Silence – Stop Human Rights Violations in Guatemala
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In Guatemala, human rights defenders face daily threats of violence, criminalization and death for their human rights work. Many of them are Indigenous farmers who are defending their land or working on issues regarding land access.
Risks for speaking out against these violations have intensified and left many farmers vulnerable to prosecution. Between May 4th to June 9th of this year, seven community organizers were assassinated due to their participation in land rights issues. Three of those assassinated were members of The Highlands Committee of Small Farmers (CCDA), an Indigenous agrarian organization.
To date there have been a total of 21 deaths of human rights defenders in Guatemala; national and international organizations continue to call for justice in these cases.
Foreign mining companies operating in Guatemala have left terrible impacts on the environment, farming lands and local people. Among these are Canadian mining companies. Because of such foreign lucrative partnerships, the Guatemalan Government has increased military presence in rural areas to help protect foreign interests, leaving the local people and their homes vulnerable to numerous human rights abuses and violations.
On December 12, 2006, the United Nations and Guatemala signed a treaty-level agreement called The International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala . As a result, an independent body called the Comisión Internacional contra la Impunidad en Guatemala (CICG) was created to support various state institutions in the investigation of sensitive and difficult judicial cases, such as those surrounding human rights.
In August of this year, the Guatemalan government announced that in 2019, it would not renew this agreement with the UN.
Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales' has barred the current CICIG Commissioner Iván Velásquez Gómez from returning to Guatemala to resume his duties for the still active UN agreement. On September 16th, the Guatemalan Constitutional Court ordered Morales to allow Gómez to return to the country without restrictions. Morales has not complied.
Join Just Us! Coffee Roasters Co-op and Maritimes – Guatemala Breaking the Silence (BTS) Network in the call for justice for human rights defenders in Guatemala.
WE ASK THAT CANADA CALL ON GUATEMALAN AUTHORITIES TO:
- Resolve land conflicts in Guatemala
- Ensure an independent investigation into the killing of human rights defenders, including CCDA members
- Comply with the Constitutional Court’s September 16th order to allow CICIG Commissioner Velasquez to return to the country to resume his duties
- Guarantee the safety of human rights defenders and civil society organizations engaging in peaceful protests
Sign this petition or contact the following members of the Canadian Government including your local MP to share these asks.
PM Justin Trudeau - Twitter: @CanadianPM
Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs - firstname.lastname@example.org
Hon. Marie- Claude Bibeau, Minister of International Development - email@example.com
(Photo: Following a talk by Marcelo Sabuc, the National Coordinator of the CCDA in Guatemala, attendees in Wolfville, Nova Scotia show their support by standing in solidarity in front of a projected image of a recently assassinated Guatemalan Human Rights Defender.)
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