International organizations applaud the initiation of the first trial for sexual slavery and violence during the armed conflict in Guatemala: the Sepur Zarco Case
Guatemala, Washington D.C. and San José, February 1, 2016.- Today the trial begins in the “Sepur Zarco” case of acts of sexual violence and domestic and sexual slavery committed from 1982 to 1986 by members of the Guatemalan army against Maya Q’eqchi’ women and the forced disappearance of several men. The accused in the case are former soldier Esteelmer Francisco Reyes Girón and former military commissioner Heriberto Valdez Asig.
This will be the first time in the world that a national court has tried a case of wartime sexual slavery case – other cases have been heard in international criminal tribunals – and the first time in Guatemala that crimes of sexual violence have been tried as international crimes. “The Guatemalan judicial system has been a pioneer in investigating complex crimes, demonstrating to other countries that confront similar challenges that it can be done,” stated Leonor Arteaga, a program officer with the Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF). Continue reading →
La GHRC aplaude el fallo de un tribunal de amparo de Guatemala que el 15 julio ordenó que se realice una consulta de vecinos sobre proyectos que los afecten y ordenó la suspensión de trabajos de construcción en la mina El Tambor.
El fallo es un indicio positivo para los miembros de las municipalidades de San Pedro Ayampuc y San José del Golfo quienes se han unido en resistencia pacífica para oponerse a un proyecto que consideran altamente dañino.
El movimiento conocido como ‘La Puya’ ha mantenido una presencia los 24 horas al día, 365 díal al año en la entrada del sitio por más de tres años. Durante ese tiempo La Puya ha denunciado actos intimidatorios e ilegales de parte de la empresa guatemalteca que posee la licencia de minería, EXMINGUA, junto con su casa matriz Kappes, Cassidy & Associates, empresa estadounidense con sede en Reno, Nevada.
La querella legal presentada en octubre de 2014 por las autoridades de dos comunidades afectadas, El Carrizal y El Guapinol, acusa al gobierno municipal de no cumplir con su deber de actuar por el bien de los ciudadanos.
La denuncia acusa al Consejo Municipal de San Pedro Ayampuc -donde se ubica la mina – de fallar en su deber de detener los trabajos de construcción en la mina y de no defender los intereses de las comunidades afectadas. Argumentan que el Consejo tenía la responsabilidad de actuar dado su conocimiento que la empresa había violado la ley operando sin licencia de construcción, teniendo documentación de preocupaciones sobre la contaminación y la cualidad del agua y por no haber llevado al cabo una válida consulta previa. Continue reading →
Today, on the 2014 International Human Rights Day, we want to share some highlights from our year working to promote human rights and rule of law in Guatemala. Click on any photo for full size viewing, or to enter slideshow … Continue reading →
I just got back from Guatemala, and wanted to share my experience while I was there. As an intern, I had the opportunity to attend GHRC’s August delegation to Guatemala, titled Women in Resistance. In addition to meeting with different human rights organizations and the U.S. Embassy, we were fortunate enough to listen to the testimony of Ixil genocide survivors. Before beginning their testimony, they admitted that repeating their stories to us would be emotionally draining. Yet they understood that we were there to foster solidarity, and we assured them that we would share their experiences with our contacts back in the U.S.After three hours of listening to the five women speak about their experiences during the conflict, the room fell silent. None of the delegates knew how to respond to what we had just heard. I personally could not imagine the suffering that these women expressed to us: horrific details of rape; soldiers burning everything they owned; families fleeing to the mountains, just to watch their own children die from starvation. I had read similar stories through my GHRC internship. However, as I listened to these women weep and scream while recounting their experiences, I understood the raw reality of the genocide and witnessed the strength of these women for surviving to tell their stories.As we absorbed what we had just heard, Kelsey, GHRC Director, broke the silence by presenting the survivors with a poster. The poster displayed comments posted by our supporters to GHRC’s Facebook page. The comments demonstrated the vast international support and solidarity with all victims of the Guatemalan genocide. The women in turn expressed their gratitude that they are not alone in the fight to achieve justice.From Mara Goldberg, Intern, GHRC/USA
On Saturday, we at GHRC had the pleasure of taking part in a powerful art installation in Washington, DC. After three years of preparation, the organization One Million Bones blanketed a section of the National Mall with bones made of various materials to bring attention to genocide committed around the world. The organizers of One Million Bones had extended a special invitation to GHRC and the Guatemala community to take part and commemorate Guatemala’s genocide victims.
GHRC staff, interns and volunteers, joined thousands of others in laying out the bones. Our group took the opportunity to read the names of the victims in the Ixil Triangle included in the charges against former generals Ríos Montt and Rodríguez Sánchez.
We posted a photo of the event on our Facebook pageon Saturday afternoon, and were shocked to see the response. Our wall was covered by an energetic debate about genocide in Guatemala. It was heartwarming to see all the comments in support of justice for victims, but sad to see that there were also many comments full of hate, anger, and denial of the crimes committed against Guatemala’s indigenous people.
Unfortunately, many of the people who posted on our wall are the same people who have been spreading the same messages of hate and denial in the Guatemalan media and organizing protests in support of those who committed atrocities.
The courageous genocide survivors, along with their lawyers, the judges, and the organizations who support justice, have been victim to this type of attack constantly since the Ríos Montt trial began. The messages in the media in Guatemala are not just slander. They are threats of violence. For example, Ricardo Méndez Ruiz, founder of the Foundation Against Terrorism, who posted on our wall, said in an interview with Guatemalan TV station Guatevision that the civil society leaders pushing for justice could be assassinated. In his post on GHRC’s facebook page, he called us a “terrorist organization.”
We don’t want to hide this debate going on in Guatemalan society, but we adamantly condemn the use of defamation, threats and messages of hate. We would love to see our page covered with messages of support for justice and for the victims and survivors of genocide.Can you add your voice
Over the last month, the historic trial has been moving forward in Guatemala’s High Risk Court charging former Head of State Efraín Ríos Montt and former Head of Military Intelligence José Mauricio Rodríguez Sanchez with Genocide and Crimes Against Humanity. The victims have waited for over 30 years for justice to be served for the atrocities committed against Guatemala’s indigenous people, and finally, a verdict is in sight.
Thanks to all of our supporters who sent an email to U.S. Ambassador Arnold Chacon asking him to attend the genocide trial. Although the trial began on March 19, the US Ambassador didn’t make an appearance in the courtroom until April 9th. The following day the Embassy finally broke its silence regarding the trial and issued a press release reiterating the importance of justice for reconciliation in Guatemala. The press release also expressed the US’s support for justice processes which are “credible, independent, transparent and impartial,” and exhorted “all Guatemalans to respect the legitimacy and integrity of the process.”
Nobel Peace Prize winner and genocide survivor Rigoberta Menchu greets victims’ families. (Photo: mimundo.org)
Breaking News: We’ve received word that a decision in the trial against Efraín Ríos Montt and José Rodríquez Sanchez may come as soon as the end of this week. The trial has progressed at breakneck speed covering testimony from more than 100 survivors and dozens of experts, despite constant attempts by the defense to stall or derail the process.
Perez Molína sells Puerto Quetzal
Over Easter weekend, Perez Molína sold Puerto Quetzal to a Spanish company. Protesters hung banners around the city denouncing Molína’s decision, and insist that the sale was illegal. The company that purchased the port, Terminal de Contenedores de Barcelona (TCB), plans to construct a dock and terminal that deals directly to Spain.