On July 1, 2014, Guatemalan officials revoked the temporary residence permits of two human rights accompaniers with Peace Brigades International. In response to their expulsion, the Convergence for Human Rights (Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos), a network of Guatemalan social, environmental, human rights, feminist, campesino and territorial defense organizations released the following statement. Spanish version here.
WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO DEFEND OUR RIGHTS
The below-signed social, environmental, human rights, feminist, campesino and territorial defense organizations demand our right to defend human rights and count on solidarity accompaniment in doing so.
At the beginning of this month, two volunteers from Peace Brigades International (PBI) were ordered by Guatemalan migration authorities to leave the country. The notification was sent to both of the observers, but failed to include a description of the acts being applied to the articles of migration law that would imply their obligatory exit from the country.
In a misleading affirmation, the head of the Ministry of the Interior, retired coronal Héctor Mauricio López Bonilla, affirmed having seen videos in which the PBI observers appear throwing rocks at members of the National Civil Police (PNC). The action would have taken place during the violent eviction of the peaceful resistance at La Puya, which was carried out with an abuse of power and violence by the security forces under the command of the Minister [of the Interior]. Nevertheless, in the cancellation notice of their temporary residence permits, these acts are not explained; the same acts which, as it has been indicated, are false.
The actions perpetrated by the authorities of the Ministry of the Interior, including violently repressing the peaceful resistance -to the extreme of handcuffing a national observer from the Human Rights Defenders Protection Unit (UDEFEGUA)-, and later, harassing the international observers in solidarity, violates the right to defend rights. While the Political Constitution of the Republic requires the government to respect and protect defenders of human rights, the rights to liberty of association, reunion, protest and expression are limited. Likewise, [we see] the installation of politics of xenophobia, which is typical of authoritarian regimes and dictatorial enemies of democracy.
For these motives, the below-signed persons and organizations:
1. Demand that the Government of the Republic, in particular the President and migration authorities, revoke the international accompaniers' expulsion order and guarantee the completion of their humanitarian mission.
2. Demand that the Public Ministry carry out the swift investigation of the denouncements of abuses of power committed by the security forces, civil and military, including the prosecution of the public servants who committed them. Additionally, we demand the immediate cease of the baseless persecution of defenders of human rights, regardless of nationality.
3. Demand that the head of the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (PDH) take effective action to support and accompany defenders of human rights and we urge him to end the complicit relation with the government authorities responsible for abuses and arbitrary actions. The constitutional authority of the office cannot be limited by particular interests or commitments of any kind.
4. Urge the United Nations, in particular the Office of the High Commission of Human Rights (OACNUDH) to report on the violations committed by the State of Guatemala with regard to its commitment to human rights; the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (ACNUR), to help and accompany the international public servants, who are the victims of the political xenophobia of the Guatemalan state. [We urge] To the International Committee of the Red Cross, to maintain a presence in zones of territorial conflict and to protect the communities threatened by the voracious action of the extractive industry. Additionally, [we urge] the European Union, Norway, and Switzerland that in compliance with their decrees regarding defenders of human rights, they take action aimed at protecting all human right defenders, both foreign and national, who work in Guatemala.
5. Invite the international community to not abandon the Guatemalan people who once again feel repression and political prosecution for simply defending their rights.
6. Convoke all of Guatemalan society to defend their rights to life, to territory, and to defend the right to defend rights, supporting social and human rights movements in their fight for a democracy with equality and social justice.
FOR THE RESPECT OF RIGHTS AND THE LIBERTIES AND GUARANTEES THAT PROTECT US
NO MORE XENOPHOBIC POLICIES AND POLITICAL PERSECUTION
ENOUGH OF THE THREATENING OF OUR RIGHT TO ORGANIZE AND THE LIBERTY OF EXPRESSION
ENOUGH PERSECUTION FOR DEFENDING OUR RIGHTS
Guatemala, July 6, 2014
Human Rights Convergence
Centro de Análisis Forense y Ciencias Aplicadas (CAFCA); Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos (CALDH); Centro de Acción Legal Ambiental y Social (CALAS); Centro Internacional para Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos (CIIDH); Equipo de Estudios Comunitarios y Acción Psicosial (ECAP); Asociación El Refugio de la Niñez; Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala (ICCPG);Oficina de Derechos Humanos de Arzobispado de Guatemala (ODHAG); Seguridad en Democracia (SEDEM); Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos (UDEFEGUA); Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas (UNAMG)
Alliance against Criminalization
AMISMAXAJ; Asociación Kaji' B'atz; CCNUEVODIA; ILUGUA; Puente de Paz; OASIS