Killing of human rights defender David Choc Pop in Guatemala

June 17, 2016

It has been stated time and again that nowadays Latin America is the most dangerous region for human rights defenders, especially those working in the area of indigenous and environmental area [see e.g.]. Guatemala no exception:

Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - croppedreports that on 8 June 2016, human rights defender David Choc Pop in Guatemala was killed in the afternoon by unknown individuals who repeatedly shot him.  David Choc Pop is an indigenous and campesino human rights defender from the community of San Juan Tres Ríos in Cobán,. The CCDA is a national organisation committed to defending local sources of water used by indigenous communities and supporting the implementation of the Comprehensive Rural Development Law (Ley de Desarrollo Rural Integral). The CCDA Committee in San Juan Tres Ríos has petitioned the Land Fund (Fondo de Tierras) to grant them legal ownership of land disputed with the owner of the estate Rancho Alegre.

Previously, on 30 March 2016, a group of men armed with firearms and machetes went to San Juan Tres Ríos where they announced that the owner of Rancho Alegre, Mr Germán Sierra Sorio, had authorised them to forcefully displace the community from the disputed land. The armed men also said that they had been told to kidnap and kill the community leaders if necessary. Upon leaving the community, the armed men threatened to come back to kill all the residents. The following day, several residents of San Juan Tres Ríos filed a complaint with the Office of the Human Rights Ombudsman in Alta Verapaz requesting an investigation into the threats.

On 16 March 2016, human rights defender Walter Méndez Barrios was shot and killed outside his home in Las Cruces, in the department of Petén. At least six human rights defenders working on indigenous peoples’ rights, land and environment were killed in Guatemala last year.

see also:é-de-desarrollo-campesino-codeca

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