URGENT ACTIONS SECTION:
Here is a communiqué sent by NISGUA (Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala) with background information and an URGENT ACTION request to respond to these threats.
PLEASE TAKE THE TIME TO RESPOND TO THIS ACTION!
(Please note that I have added the addresses of the Canadian Ambassador to Guatemala and of the Foreign Affairs Minister who should both receive a copy of the letters of appeal).
Dear friends of NISGUA,
Over the past few weeks, members of Sons and Daughters for Identity and against Forgetting and Silence (H.I.J.O.S.) have experienced a series of escalating acts of intimidation. We are concerned for their safety and the safety of other members of this year's demilitarization campaign. As some of you know,campaign members have called for the cancellation of the annual military parade held for Army Day on June 30th and for the replacement of this holiday with a National Day for Heroes and Martyrs. This year, the military parade was cancelled and the demilitarization campaign will be holding its own parade and activities. June 30th, as well as the days leading up to and following, can be very tense for those involved.
As the day approaches, please take a moment to respond to the urgent action
below. For additional information, please visit:
On June 21st, a member of H.I.J.O.S. was threatened as he was walking through
the center of Guatemala City. Two men got out of a grey Nissan pickup and approached him. One of the men held him and prevented him from running away, threatening and questioning him about H.I.J.O.S. and campaign members. The man's statements included, "I just want you to do me a favor and tell those H.I.J.O.S. to stop being ridiculous because they're going to exasperate us and we'll have to kill them," and "We already have you taped." The man then punched the H.I.J.O.S. member in the stomach and, when he fell to the ground, searched his bag and took his cell phone.
Over the past few months, other members of the demilitarization campaign have
also been intimidated. Among other incidents, the e-mail of one member was
hacked into and the hacker sent intimidating messages from the account to the
account's owner indicating that the army had detailed information on all of
the H.I.J.O.S. members.
H.I.J.O.S. was founded in 1999 by youth who were forced into exile or lost
family members due to state repression during the war. The group seeks to
preserve historical memory, fight impunity, memorialize the victims of the war,
and shed light on the human rights violations committed during the conflict.
Because of the sensitive nature of the work, the group has experienced threats
and acts of intimidation in the past, including office break-ins and an
attempted kidnapping in 2005.
This year the group launched a very public demilitarization campaign with the
support of 15 other organizations. Recent campaign events included a caravan
on June 7th passing by the Matamoros military base, a June 8th press conference announcing the collection of over 2,000 signatures in support of the
demilitarization campaign, and a series of radio ads starting on June 17th
announcing plans to hold a march in memory of the heroes and martyrs of the war on June 30th. Members also participated in a number of events to commemorate International Forced Disappearance Day on June 21st.
On June 8th, the government announced the suspension of the military parade,
citing budget shortfalls. H.I.J.O.S. and other members of the demilitarization
campaign are moving forward with the June 30th march and other activities.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS as soon as possible (sample letter below):
- calling for a thorough investigation to identify the intellectual and
material authors of the attack on June 21st.
- urging the government to guarantee the safety of all that participate in the
March in Memory of the Heroes and Martyrs on June 30.
- urging the government to protect human rights defenders, in particular
members of H.I.J.O.S. and the campaign, that have been attacked as a result of
their work for truth and justice.
- calling for respect for the work of human rights defenders.
Minister of the Interior
Sr. Carlos Vinicio Gómez Ruiz, Ministro de Gobernación
6ª Avenida 4-64, nivel 2, Zona 4
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2413 8658
Salutation: Señor Ministro/ Dear Minister
Lic. Juan Luis Florido
Fiscal General de la República y Jefe del Ministerio Público
8ª Avenida 10-67, Antiguo Edificio del Banco de los Trabajadores, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2411 9124; +502 2411 9326
Salutation: Estimado Fiscal/Dear Sir
Head of the Special Prosecutor's Office on Human Rights, Public Prosecutor's Office
Rosa María Salazar Marroquín
Jefa de la Sección de Derechos Humanos, Ministerio Público
10ª Calle 10-14, Zona 1, Edificio UP, 5º nivel
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2230 6033 (say "por favor, tono de fax" – business hours only,GMT+7)
Salutation: Estimada Fiscal/Dear Madam
Hon. David Emerson
Foreign Affaire Minister
Ambassador Kenneth Cook
Ambassador to Guatemala
2a Calle A 7-13, zona 2
Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
Fax: +502 2253 0257
I am deeply concerned for the safety of the members of H.I.J.O.S. and others
involved in the demilitarization campaign. I am aware that members of the
campaign have experienced various levels of intimidation and that one
H.I.J.O.S. member was directly threatened on June 21st, 2008. I am extremely
concerned that the threat was in response to their work for truth and justice
and their efforts to organize the March in Memory of the Heroes and Martyrs for
I urge you today to take immediate action to ensure effective protection for
human rights defenders and, in particular, H.I.J.O.S. members and others
involved in the activities planned for June 30th. Further, I urge you to order
an immediate and thorough investigation into the threat made on June 21st.
Those responsible must be identified and brought to justice without further
Human rights defenders have the right to carry out their activities without any
restrictions or fear of reprisals, as set out in the UN Declaration on the
Rights and Responsibilities of Individuals, Groups and Institutions to Promote
and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms. Your prompt action to investigate and bring to justice those responsible for threats against H.I.J.O.S. and other human rights defenders is essential to the
realization of human rights in Guatemala.
I thank you in advance for your attention and action to protect the important
work of H.I.J.O.S. and all human rights defenders in Guatemala.
Military parade cancelled & threat to H.I.J.O.S.
Here is a communiqué sent by H.I.J.O.S. (Hijas e Hijos para la Identitad y la Justicia contra el Olvido y el Silencio - regarding the recent threats and acts of intimidation against them:
BEFORE INTERNATIONAL AND NATIONAL PUBLIC OPINION
BEFORE THE ORGANIZATIONS THAT MAINTAIN A FRONTAL STRUGGLE AGAINST IMPUNITY
BEFORE DEATH THREATS, H.I.J.O.S. GUATEMALA REMAINS FIRM IN THE STRUGGLE
We energetically denounce that on Saturday, June 21 of this year, around 3:30pm, one of our companions was subject to aggression while he was briefly interrogated about the people who coordinate our actions against military impunity and for the application of justice.
Our companion was detained by two unknown individuals who gout out of Grey Nissan Centra pickup truck with private license plates, where they intercepted him on 8th Avenue and 11 Street in Zone 1. Near the building of the Public Prosecutor.
The assailants, after approaching him, indicated that he should give the message to our organization that if we do not stop our action they would begin to execute our members. Next, he was questioned about the person or people who coordinate our actions. The two individuals beat our companion and later left quietly from the site of the attack.
This type of aggression and threat are given in the context that HIJOS, together with other popular organizations, developed a campaign to stop the military march, to vindicate June 30 as the Day of Heroes and Martyrs of the People, massacred by the Sate, to demand justice and punishment to their aggressors and with that demand the demilitarization of indigenous and peasant communities in the country.
BEFORE THIS SITUATION:
WE DIRECTLY SIGNAL THE GUATEMALAN ARMY AS THE ONLY RESPONSIBLE OF ANY DIRECT OR INDIRECT ATTACK THAT MEMBERS OF OUR ORGANIZATION AND THEIR FAMILIES SUFFER
WE DEMAND THAT THE GUATEMALAN STATE GUARANTEE THE PHYSICAL AND MENTAL INTEGRITY OF OUR MEMBER AND FAMILIES THAT A SERIOUS AND EFFICIENT INVESTIGATION BE MADE INTO THIS CASE AS WELL AS THE PREVIOUS CASES OF BREAK-INS TO OUR OFFICES, WHICH HAVE BEEN PROPERLY DENOUNCED BEFORE THE COMPETENT AUTHORITIES.
Before sister organizations, and before the Guatemalan people survivors of the genocide at the hands of the same army that today threatens, we reiterate our commitment to the struggle for the memory, the truth and the justice that will liberate our history from the oppression against our people, to know the whereabouts of our disappeared martyrs and achieve punishment to their aggressors.
FOR ALL THE DISAPPEARED, NOT IN FORGETTING, NOR IN FORGIVING
Guatemala City, June 23, 2008
We Do Not Forget
We Do Not Forgive
We Do Not Reconcile