On January 27, 2007, ECAP released a communiqué concerning the intimidations that they had received in connection with their work in Rabinal, Baja Verapaz. Since October of last year, the ECAP team has been the victim of various written and telephone threats for their psychosocial work related to exhumations and with the survivors of the massacre of Plan de Sánchez.
On February 2, a tire of the vehicle of Otto Navarro, a lawyer who works with CALDH, was slashed. Later in the day, José Roberto Morales, coordinator of the Indigenous Peoples’ Rights Department of CALDH, left his office in a CALDH vehicle. After arriving at his home he was kidnapped by two armed men. They released him in a nearby neighborhood, telling him that they would look for him in his house and kill him if he activated the vehicle’s alarm. Later the vehicle was found intact, with all of his belongings, including his new laptop computer.
Sometime during February 3-5, the offices of the UPD-MNDH, MNDH and COMUNICARTE were broken into by unknown people. Their files were searched, 11 computers were stolen, the video equipment of COMUNICARTE was taken and human feces were left on the terrace. While staff members of these organizations were waiting for the Guatemalan authorities on the morning of February 5, a person in a red Toyota Corolla, with the plates 654CLO, drove past and filmed the group.
On February 5, a note was left on the windshield of the car of Angélica González, another CALDH lawyer . The note said: “stop bothering with protection, protect yourself you don’t understand warning tell Pancho [Juan Francisco Soto, Coordinator of the legal area of CALDH ] to take care of himself and his children and woman that is always alone, we see them and you Abogangsters [Lawyer-Gangster] pieces of [expletive] that only want money. Look for another job but one of these days we will go out for lunch together, as always it’s on us. Understand you sons of [expletive]”. Angélica González is representing ECAP staff and José Roberto Morales before the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights.
All of these incidents have been reported to the Guatemalan Attorney General’s Office.
Together with other members of the Coordination of International Accompaniment in Guatemala (CAIG), NISGUA is concerned about the rise in threats against these organizations and asks you to take actions to guarantee their security.
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In a press conference on February 6, affected organizations argued that these attacks could be linked. CALDH’s legal team advises the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR) in the cases charging former dictator Gen. Efraín Ríos Montt and other former officials with genocide. ECAP offers psychosocial accompaniment to survivors of genocide, including members of the AJR and other witnesses in cases of human rights violations committed by the military during the armed conflict. The UPD-MNDH records all cases of attacks against human rights defenders. Soon the group will release a report analyzing high-impact cases involving human rights defenders in2006, including the continuing attacks against ECAP. COMUNICARTE is finishing documentaries about topics such as genocide, the Dos Erres massacre, and the women of the Ixcán.
For the ECAP communiqué, see:
On July 7, 2006, the Spanish National Court issued international arrest warrants for Ríos Montt, Mejía Victores, Chupina Barahona, García Arredondo, Benedicto Lucas García, Angel Guevara, and Álvarez Ruiz for genocide, terrorism, torture, and illegal detentions. On November 7, 2006, Guevara and Chupina were arrested after a Guatemalan court processed the request for extradition issued by the Spanish. Currently, the others remain free. In press releases, Vice-President Eduardo Stein said: “Guatemalans that commit crimes in national territory should be tried in Guatemala.” By promoting the rights to justice and truth, human rights defenders have been subject to systematic attacks, including at least 13 murders since 2000.
In October 2006, the AJR formally requested that the Attorney General request Judge Roberto Peñate to subpoena Ríos Montt for an initial statement, after which formal charges could be filed. Four months later there has been no response from the authorities. On February 7, 2007, CALDH and the AJR presented a complaint to the judge, voicing their discontent with the Attorney General and requesting that the judge proceed with collecting Ríos Montt’s initial statement in order to formally accuse him of genocide against the Maya Ixil people under his government.
If this step is taken in the case it would prevent Ríos Montt from standing as a candidate in the upcoming elections. Candidates for the congressional elections in September of this year can begin registering after May 3. Ríos Montt has already publicly stated his desire to run for the Guatemalan Congress as part of the FRG party.
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