Posts Tagged ‘tribal leaders’

Guatemala’s slide into violence passes through killings of human rights defenders

January 29, 2019

….Indigenous citizens, many dressed in colorful traditional clothing, came out partly to protest the Guatemalan president’s recent expulsion of a United Nations-backed commission investigating corruption in the country. Since 2007, the International Commission against Impunity in Guatemala, known by its Spanish initials CICIG and funded by the U.N., the United States and the European Union, has worked with Guatemalan justice agencies to target corrupt officials.

In the highly unequal society that is Guatemala, many Maya believe any strengthening of the justice system will protect indigenous rights granted under the country’s constitution and peace accords.

The country’s indigenous people therefore have a strong motivation to lobby for the rule of law. Maya communities bore the brunt of almost four decades of a civil war that ended in 1996, leaving over 200,000 casualties, the majority indigenous Guatemalans, according to the United Nations. Now the mostly Maya organizations and many human rights groups worry that the violence is making a comeback: In just the last year, 26 members of mostly indigenous campesino organizations have been killed.

Guatemala is on the verge of a major human rights catastrophe,” says Jo-Marie Burt, a professor at George Mason University in Fairfax, Va., and a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America, an independent research and advocacy center. According to Burt, the Guatemalan Union of Human Rights Defenders has tallied over 200 attacks against human rights defenders in Guatemala in the last year….Guatemala is close to falling into the violence that gripped the country 30 years ago, which the United Nations and some Guatemala courts say led to a genocide of the country’s indigenous citizens.

One of the killings took place in July, in the province of Quiché, one of the areas hardest hit by the civil war……Hundreds attended her wake and funeral, where a leader of the Campesino Development Committee said the organization would not be intimidated. Indigenous, human rights and international organizations expressed outrage for Raymundo’s murder.

Indigenous scholar and commentator Irma Alicia Velásquez Nimatuj wrote in her column in the newspaper El Periódico, “After having lived through a genocide, we should have learned the lesson that no one in Guatemala, regardless of ethnicity, gender or class, should be killed for thinking differently … or for dreaming of a different future.

According to Velásquez, Guatemala has entered “a new stage of repression”one focused on “assassinating community leaders who defend their territories from invasion by transnational companies bent on depriving indigenous peoples of the resources they have in the soil and the subsoil.

Numerous conflicts over land and mineral rights have surfaced in indigenous communities throughout Guatemala.

…..On Aug. 5, shortly after Raymundo’s killing, the respected sociologist Edelberto Torres-Rivas provided historical context for the attacks on rural leaders in a long opinion piece for El Periódico. …. He went on to warn that “In Guatemala there is a return of those who’ve carried out crimes in the recent past … and if the authorities don’t take care … there could be a reaction.”…..

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https://www.npr.org/2019/01/22/685505116/killings-of-guatemalas-indigenous-activists-raise-specter-of-human-rights-crisis?t=1548231003780

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/opinion/attacks-indigenous-rights-defenders-181206094334223.html

https://reliefweb.int/report/guatemala/iachr-expresses-alarm-over-increase-murders-and-aggressions-against-human-rights

https://www.telesurenglish.net

Another human rights defender shot dead in Philippines

March 27, 2014

According to ucanews.com of 26 March 2014, unidentified gunmen shot and killed a human rights defender, whose name had appeared on a military hit list, in the northern Philippine province of Ifugao on Tuesday. Cristina Palabay, secretary general of human rights group Karapatan identified the victim as William Bugatti of the Cordillera Human Rights Alliance. She said that Bugatti’s name had appeared on an army list of targeted persons, obtained from undisclosed sources, which included activists and individuals working with farmers’ organizations. Bugatti was described on the list as the “brains” of the New Peoples Army” the military arm of the underground Communist Party of the Philippines. According to Piya Macliing Malayao of the Alliance of Indigenous People of the Philippines, Bugatti was on his way home from the office when he was gunned down. He sustained three gunshot wounds. Malayao said other members of human rights groups in the Cordillera region have also become targets of the military. “Bugatti’s killing sends a gravely disturbing message to members of peoples organizations and human rights defenders in the region,” she said. Last week, Malayao raised concerns about posters that appeared in Ifugao province, bearing the names of tribal leaders and human rights activists who have been tagged as communist rebels. “We now fear for the lives of the others listed on the military’s target catalog,” she said, adding that the list “proves that there are precision strikes being made on unarmed civilians” under the governments anti-insurgency program. Malayao said that during the first 10 weeks of 2014 alone, four indigenous people were killed by government security forces.

via Another activist shot dead in Philippines ucanews.com.