Last Thursday, Guatemala was shocked by the news of a massacre of indigenous people, as this kind of violence was seen as belonging to its tragic past, not to the present. However, the government of General Otto Perez Molina seems unable to drop its military counter-insurgency mentality, and after only 9 months in power it has carried out several acts of repression against its own people.
First of all, it was the introduction of stage of siege in Santa Cruz Barillas (Huehuetenango), followed by the brutal repression of secondary students in Guatemala City, then the violent repression of demonstrations in San Rafael de las Flores (Santa Rosa) and now the massacre of indigenous inhabitants of the 48 Cantons of Totonicapan. The indigenous people organisations have put out the following statement to international public opinion:
The organizations listed below denounce the following:……………..
1 – On the afternoon of Thursday, October 4, the Committee of the 48 Cantons of Totonicapan, a traditional structure considered the legitimate representative of the people, suffered a violent attack by Guatemalan army forces at kilometre 170 of the Inter-American Highway. The army was responding to a demonstration the people were carrying out to show their rejection of constitutional reform, the reform of teachers’ educational career trajectory, and the high cost of electricity. As a result of the attack, seven people have died, at least thirty have been reported wounded, and a number of others are suffering the effects of teargas.
2 –When the attack occurred, the leaders of the 48 Cantons were in Guatemala City, waiting for President Otto Perez Molina to attend a meeting they were having with government representative Miguel Angel Balcarcel.
3 – The use of combined forces (police and army) with firearms at a citizens’ demonstration in which they were exercising universally recognized and nationally guaranteed rights is a show of violence by the state, which is showing itself incapable of acting in a way that corresponds to a democratic culture, within the framework of a lawful state.
4 – The use of soldiers and the use of firearms in evictions or to intervene in demonstrations or public meetings, according to resolutions of the United Nations Committee Against Torture, constitutes torture—a fact for which the State of Guatemala has been repeatedly criticized by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
5 – The authoritarian act and the refusal to sustain an effective dialogue to find real solutions to the population’s problems, the historical abandonment, and the demagogical discourse violates fundamental rights related to the dignity of peoples and persons.
. . .In response to this situation, we demand:
1 – That the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office investigates the incident thoroughly and issue an immediate resolution that permits the identification of those members of the security forces responsible for human rights violations.
2 – That the Public Ministry initiate immediate criminal proceedings against those responsible for these bloody acts, as well as the arbitrary and violent actions of members of the civilian and military security forces.
3 – That the government of Guatemala provide the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office and the Public Ministry with the names of the officials in charge of the forces involved; their operational plan; and details of instructions transmitted from Guatemala City to those commanders, from the Ministry of the Interior as well as the Ministry of Defence. Also, we demand that the government temporarily suspend the officials who by action or omission are implicated in the events.
4 – That President Otto Peréz Molina immediately demilitarise the security forces and withdraw military forces from public security functions.
5 – That Guatemalan Congress repeal decree 40-2000, which allows joint patrols and that Congress adhere to the legal character of the Peace Accords, in particular the Accord on the Strengthening of Civil Power and the Function of the Army in a Democratic Society.
6– That the National Institute of the Forensic Sciences (INACIF) conducts autopsies, expert reports on ballistic arms, and an investigation of the scene of the crime, in adherence to proper norms.
7 – That the political, legislative, and private sector authorities cease these authoritarian practices and assume the norms of true democratic rather than demagogic society.
8 – To the communities and leaders of the 48 Cantons of Totonicapán, to the families of the dead, the wounded, and those others affected by these events, we pronounce our profound solidarity and our commitment to accompany you in the search for justice for these painful events.…………..
Guatemala, 4th of October, 2012
Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos
Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos -CALDH-
Centro Internacional para Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos -CIIDH-
Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala -ICCPG-
Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala -ODHAG-
Seguridad en Democracia -SEDEM-
Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos-Guatemala -UDEFEGUA-
Asociación Familiares de Desaparecidos de Guatemala -FAMDEGUA-
Centro de Estudios de Guatemala -CEG-
Equipo Comunitario de Apoyo Psicosocial -ECAP-
Sector Mujeres de Sociedad Civil
Unión Nacional de Mujeres de Guatemala -UNAMG-
WHAT YOU CAN DO
Write to the following (see addresses below)
William Hague, Foreign Secretary – ask that the UK condemns the murdering of indigenous people in Guatemala
UK Guatemala Ambassador – call for an immediate investigation into this massacre as well as bringing to justice those responsible for it
AMs, and MPs – ask them to make public statements condemning this massacre that threatens a very recently restored democracy, to demand justice for the relatives of those murdered, and to table (or support) a Statement of Opinion (in the National Assembly) or Early Day Motion (in the House of Commons) condemning the massacre and supporting the 48 Cantons of Totonicapán.
MEPs – ask them to bring this matter as a matter of urgency at the next session of the European Parliament
Rt Hon William Hague
Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs
Foreign & Commonwealth Office,
King Charles Street, London SW1A 2AH
Presidente de la República de Guatemala Sr. Otto Pérez Molina
Secretaria Privada de la Presidencia
6ta Avenida 4-46 de la Zona 1, Guatemala, Guatemala.
His Excellency Mr Acisclo Valladares
Embassy of Guatemala,
13A Fawcett Street
Oficina del Alto Comisionado para los Derechos Humanos de las Naciones Unidas para Guatemala
Alberto Brunori, representante de la OACNUDH
Dirección: 5a Av. 5-55 Zona 14 Edif Europlaza, Torre III, Nivel 14, Ciudad de Guatemala, 01014, PBX: (502)
2382-3400, Fax: (502) 2382-3410
National Assembly for Wales
House of Commons
You can also e-mail your MP or AM using the Write to Them website: http://www.writetothem.com/
Type your post code and follow the links.
You can also e-mail your MEP by using THIS LINK