From our partners at the Guatemala Solidarity Project:
This February will mark four years since indigenous q’eqchi’ leader Ramiro Choc was kidnapped by the Guatemalan government. He was not arrested, but pulled off a bus by soldiers who said they would kill him. He has since survived threats, beatings, poison, denial of medical attention and numerous other hardships.
Choc has been eligible for release since February 2011, but the Guatemalan courts have refused to even consider legal motions calling for his release. Since Choc was arrested the government has accelerated its pillaging of indigenous lands, in some cases burning hundreds of homes and destroying thousands of acres of subsistence crops. Choc’s dynamic arguments in favor of indigenous rights, his ability to unite marginalized populations, and his courageous commitment to continue organizing in the face of repeated threats made him an enemy of wealthy, corrupt landowners:
Freedom for Ramiro Choc!
What you can do: February 14, 2012: Fast and Congressional briefing!
For the second year we will be helping to organize a fast on the anniversary of Choc’s illegal detainment. On the same day, there will be a briefing in US congress organized by the Guatemala Human Rights Commission. If you are participating in the fast – or even if you are not – please contact your member of congress and ask that they send someone to attend this important briefing. The US government played a lead role in building the Guatemalan judicial system, and new Guatemalan President and US Army School of the Americas graduate Otto Perez Molina is pushing for increased military relations between Guatemala and the US. It is a critical time for US congress to be informed about what is really happening in Guatemala.
While the fast will be a form of pressuring for Choc’s release, we also plan to use the fast to challenge ourselves to follow Choc’s example of working courageously for justice. In addition we ask people to call the Guatemalan embassy and/or their legislators to request they work to win freedom for Ramiro Choc.
More information about the case and how to get involved here.
Sign the petition to free Ramiro Choc here.