Alert: Municipal Government of Nebaj Attempts to Evict Ixil Indigenous Authorities from their Office

GHRC, Protection International, and the Human Rights Defenders Project joint statement condemning actions of aggression against the Ixil Authorities in their office in Nebaj

English Translation Below

August 31, 2022

On the afternoon of August 31, the Ixil Indigenous Authorities were forced to vacate their office in Nebaj. Workers from the Municipality arrived and began to board up the surroundings of the office while several people were still inside. The eviction is supposedly related to renovations for the municipal building in Nebaj, however, no remodeling project or plan has been disclosed. The only notice given was an order to vacate taped on the door, just two days prior. Furthermore, the municipality has not provided a temporary office to the Ixil Authorities to use while the alleged renovations will be carried out. 

WE CONDEMN this action of aggression by the municipality against the Ixil Authorities of Nebaj. Recognizing the essential work that the authorities provide to their community, it is essential that their offices remain open. WE DENOUNCE the violation of the rights of indigenous peoples established in the Constitution of the Republic of Guatemala and international conventions ratified by the State of Guatemala, which obliges all municipalities not only to respect the Ancestral Authorities, but not to interfere in their essential functions.  

It is important to remember that in the office, there are several legal complaints and evidence from investigations into Virgilio Geronimo Bernal Guzman, Municipal Mayor of Nebaj. Since beginning their investigations, the Ixil Authorities have suffered surveillance and persecution. Now, they are being threatened with eviction from their office.  

In the context of increasing threats against indigenous leaders and attacks against those in the anti-corruption struggle in Guatemala, we are deeply concerned about these latest developments. We stand in solidarity with the Ixil Authorities and demand that the municipality restore access to their office so that they can continue their work, ensure the physical integrity of each and every one of its members, as well as safeguard all property and documentation within the office. 

Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA

Protection International 

Guatemala Defenders Project 

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