Please take action
Communities in Huehuetenango are under siege by Guatemalan military and police. The security forces were sent to break up peaceful protests in reaction to the illegal detention of a local resident. Several people have already been injured and we fear that there could be further violence.
Please call the Guatemalan Embassy to express concern about the safety of peaceful protesters in Huehuetenango. Urge the Guatemalan government to avoid further conflict, uphold the rule of law and respect human rights. In the US: 202-745-4953. In Canada: 613-233-7188.
Over the last few years, various municipalities in northern Huehuetenango have protested against planned mega-development projects including the Canbalam Dam in Santa Cruz Barillas. Recently, protests have included roadblocks across the region to pressure the Guatemalan Government to enter into a real, public dialogue with those opposed to the projects
On Sept. 28, Mynor López, who has been active in the resistance movement, was seized by men in civilian clothes, taken to a military helicopter, then handed over to the police. In response to the abduction, protests erupted across nort soldiers to break up the protests using tear gas launched from army helicoptehern Huehuetenango, blocking various roads. The government mobilized hundreds of police andrs as well as live rounds fired by security forces. A soldier was killed in the clashes. Despite evidence that his injuries were self-inflicted while attempting to fire a tear gas canister, the government publicly blamed protesters for his death.
In addition, the Interior Minister announced that 40 arrest warrants would be carried out for various acts allegedly committed since 2011. Over the past year and a half, over a dozen community members have been arrested for their resistance to the Canbalam Dam. Several of them were incarcerated for up to eight months before being released because of a lack of evidence against them.
A delegation organized by the International Commission of Jurists visited Mynor in jail and report that he shows evidence of physical violence, even torture.
Community members are now asking the government to respect an agreement reached on September 30 to withdraw security forces and have a real dialogue regarding the proposed hydroelectric dam. Can you stand with them and help prevent further bloodshed?
Please call the Guatemalan Embassy to ask them to stop the violence against protesters in Huehuetenango and promote peaceful dialogue.
Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA
Women march in Santa Cruz Barillas last year. Their banner reads: "Our Struggles Are Peaceful, Our Referendums Are Democratic: Mr. President, We are not criminals or terrorists. We are all Barillas." Photo by the Independent Media Center-Guatemala.