Saturday, November 30, 2013

NISGUA receives 2013 Global Justice and Peace Award

On Saturday, November 16, the Denver Justice and Peace Committee (DJPC) presented NISGUA with their annual Global Justice and Peace Award. DJPC, a longtime supporter of NISGUA’s Guatemala Accompaniment Project, recognized NISGUA's organizational achievements and commitment to justice.

We were honored to have AJR President Anselmo Roldán join us at the awards ceremony. His presence represented the strong and important relationships that lead and shape NISGUA’s work on the ground in Guatemala.

Thank you DPJC for this generous award and the opportunity to connect with such an incredible and warm community of activists, former accompaniers and supporters!

Please enjoy the selection of photos below from the awards night in Denver, thanks to former NISGUA staffer Graham Hunt.

AJR president Anselmo Roldán and NISGUA Programs Coordinator
Ellen Moore observe the ceremony.

DJPC presents former NISGUA accompanier with the Member of the Year Award.

NISGUA Operations Coordinator Megan Whelan
receives the Global Justice and Peace Award on behalf of NISGUA.

Former NISGUA accompanier Brad Lawton addresses the crowd.

AJR president Anselmo Roldán speaks to DJPC.

"Justice for genocide: A survivor's story" visits Laramie, Denver and the Bay Area

The "Justice for genocide: A survivor's story" fall speaking tour left Wisconsin on November 13 to embark on the final stops of the tour: Laramie, WY; Denver, CO; and the Bay Area, CA. The Wyoming Guatemala Accompaniment Project (WYGap) welcomed tour speaker, Association for Justice and Reconciliation President Anselmo Roldán, and NISGUA Programs Coordinator, Ellen Moore. WYGap organized a total of eight events over a day and a half, the majority hosted at University of Wyoming in Laramie.

Anselmo connected with university students from various departments during a dynamic round-table discussion over lunch. Later, he gave a public presentation at the university, drawing people from surrounding communities, thanks to strong local media promotion of the event. Anselmo finished the evening with an interfaith tapas dinner organized by local faith communities followed by a reception at the university.

The next morning, Anselmo spoke to a master’s students class and concluded the Laramie visit with a prayer circle before heading to Denver.

WYGap and University of Wyoming students were deeply impacted by Anselmo's visit. They eagerly joined our postcard campaign in support of the genocide sentence with messages for the AJR:
In a world upheld by impunity there can be no justice and gross human rights violations cannot be stopped. We must punish these men and break the cycle of violence.

Democracy cannot function without justice and the rule of law.

I am a Guatemalan immigrant and justice must be served!

Todos tienen el derecho de seguir adelante con la memoria reconocida y la seguridad garantizada. Les apoyo a Uds. en la lucha por justicia y les admiro la valentía.

Injusticia es injusticia. Estamos en solidaridad. Por favor, no dejen de luchar.

In Denver, CO, Anselmo had the unique opportunity to meet with the Romero Theater Troupe, an inspiring group of social justice focused local performers. The Troupe truly connected with Anselmo and the work of the AJR and is excited to continue to build their relationship.

While in Denver, we were honored to join the Denver Justice and Peace Committee (DJPC) for their annual awards night. This year, DJPC chose to to present NISGUA with their Global Justice and Peace award to recognize our work and commitment to justice! See a full photo report of the awards evening here!

Denver sent their own messages of support for the genocide sentence. Some highlights include:
To deny the sentence is to deny the value of lives lost. Each of those who died needlessly has value. The sentence is a recognition of that which was taken from us all.

Ríos Montt is responsible for the massacre of the people and has torn the fabric of the Mayan society, which still lives in fear. He is guilty and needs to pay.

Los responsables del genocidio deben de pagar por sus abusos a la dignidad humana. Es justo.

The tour reached its final stop in the Bay Area, CA, also home to NISGUA's US Office and Operations Coordinator, Megan Whelan. Anselmo presented at a community center with a primarily Spanish-speaking audience from the Mission district and surrounding areas. Representatives from community organizations in the Bay Area came out to hear directly from Anselmo.

Anselmo connected with the San Francisco community once again at a public forum at the City College of San Francisco. Anselmo's story impacted the packed room, filled with students, faculty and people from the local community. Once again, the event was widely attended by Spanish speakers, including many Guatemalans who also suffered during the war.

While in San Francisco, City of San Francisco Supervisor, David Campos, awarded Anselmo, in representation of the AJR, a certificate of honor for their work and dedication to justice and peace for the Guatemalan people. Campos, a Guatemalan American who was forced to leave Guatemala with his family during the internal armed conflict, recognized the AJR's historic victory as plaintiffs in the genocide case against Efraín Ríos Montt. He told Anselmo, “The AJR's work is an inspiration for all of us, reminding us to be courageous in the face of injustice.

Anselmo finished his visit to the Bay Area and closed out the three-week tour as the keynote speaker at 6th Annual Plátanos dinner organized by the Guatemala News and Information Bureau. Anselmo received a standing ovation from dinner attendees for the AJR's incredible gains this year in the process of bringing Ríos Montt to justice for genocide. 

Attendees at the tour events in the Bay Area left inspiring notes of support for the AJR. The Bay Area supports the genocide sentence because:
The lives of Guatemalans matter! Because life everywhere matters! This sentence is a bold stand for life, for honesty, for integrity, and for family history and future. The victories of the AJR are victories for all of us around the world who care about humanity, justice and love. Thank you for your struggle!

Justicia y la verdad en Guatemala son importantes para todo el mundo. Este ejemplo - el ejemplo del trabajo de AJR - demuestra a todo el mundo que NO aceptamos impunidad cuando hay graves crímenes contra la humanidad… Aunque hay gran poderes que quieren impunidad para los criminales políticos en Guatemala, el poder del pueblo y de la gente siempre supera y siempre tiene lo mas fuerza. Hasta la victoria siempre! Y gracias por todo lo que hacen.

I support the genocide sentence because as a young person, I feel that it is important to uphold your own country's law (and international law) and to severely punish someone who ruthlessly killed/massacred a group of people. Montt is a dangerous man, and it's absorb to think that after killing so many Mayans, he, of all people, can walk away without charges.

Those who disregard the basic human right to life must be brought to justice and a message must be sent that justice is not a commodity to be bought and sold.

Para mi es muy importante que se haga JUSTICIA por las masacres/ genocidio y otros crímenes contra el pueblo Indígena Maya en Guatemala. Estamos en solidaridad aquí en San Francisco, CA y vamos a apoyarlos, lo amamos lo bendecimos y cuenten con nosotros.

While our tour has come to a close, we continue to support to the AJR through our petition and postcard campaign. Sign our petition against amnesty for Ríos Montt and send the AJR a personal message in support of the genocide sentence here.

Read about our previous tour stops in Tucson, D.C. and Los Angeles and the Midwest. See what cities we're headed to next by visiting our website.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Jalapa says NO to mining! Guatemalan Constitutional Court hears case related to Tahoe Resources' mining license

Jalapa has said NO to mining. Photo: Xinka Parliament

On Sunday, November 10, in a community consultation in the municipality of Jalapa, 23,152 people said NO to chemical metal mining.

Members of Santa María Xalapán and other indigenous Xinca communities in Jalapa requested the popular vote in order to address the threat of environmental and social impacts from the nearby Escobal silver mine, owned by Tahoe Resources. Nearly 24,000 people participated in the vote. Over 98% of all participants voted against mining while 1.71% voted in favor.

Do you agree with the development, installation and operation of chemical
metal mining in any part of the municipality of Jalapa? YES or NO.
Photo: CPR Urbana
In 2011, other municipalities surrounding the Escobal mine began holding municipal-level popular votes on the issue of mining. Casillas, Nueva Santa Rosa and Santa Rosa Lima were the first to hold votes in the department of Santa Rosa. In 2012, Matasquintla in the department of Jalapa also held a consultation. All four votes resulted in the overwhelming rejection of mining on their territory.

This year, the municipality of San Rafael Las Flores, where the Escobal mine is located, planned to hold a municipal wide consultation but their request was denied. Instead, individual communities in the municipality organized community-level consultations. Eight of San Rafael Las Flores' 26 communities completed popular votes when the process was cut short due to a government declared state of siege in May. The community consultation earlier this month in Jalapa marks the first popular vote surrounding the Escobal mine since the state of siege.

Participants in the community consultation show off their inked fingers, a sign of their vote.
Photo: CPR Urbana

Meanwhile, in a separate process of legitimate opposition to mining, Quelvin Jiménez continues to defend his legal right to have his voice heard. Jiménez, along with over 200 other complainants, filed legal complaints against Tahoe Resources regarding potential social and environmental impacts from the company's Escobal project. While individual legal complaints are less utilized than the community consultation process to express opposition to mining projects, they are protected under Guatemala's mining law.

The Ministry of Energy and Mines (MEM) ignored community opposition to the Escobal mine and rejected the 200+ complaints in April of this year, just before granting Tahoe Resources the mining license necessary to move forward with production. Jiménez, with legal support from the Center for Environmental and Social Legal Action (CALAS), appealed MEM's rejection of his complaint, citing lack of due process. The appeal was upheld in July, which CALAS interpreted to mean the suspension of Tahoe Resources' license. However, Minera San Rafael, Tahoe's Guatemalan subsidiary, put forward another legal appeal against the decision, sending Jiménez' case to Guatemala's Constitutional Court.

Hundreds of supporters from the legitimate resistance to the Escobal mine traveled in to Guatemala City to attend the Constitutional Court hearing this past November 5. Jiménez, before a packed room, defended his legal right to self-determination. He reflected on the process saying, "We hope the court respects our rights, that justice be fulfilled, not just for me but for all the communities."

A community member in the attendance also commented on the hearing, "They think they can take the law in their own hands but there is rule of law in Guatemala and it must be respected… We are demanding our rights be respected."

CALAS and Jiménez currently await notification from the Constitutional Court regarding its resolution.

Support community resistance to the Escobal mine by echoing their voices internationally: Take Action! Write Kevin McArthur, President of Tahoe Resources, to demand the company respect communities' right to self-determination and leave Guatemala!

Monday, November 18, 2013

"Justice for genocide: A survivor's story" visits the Midwest

“We are here in the United States asking for your solidarity. Borders divide us, but justice is a fundamental pillar of democracy” -Anselmo Roldán to the international community

From November 7-11, NISGUA visited six Midwestern cities with Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR) president Anselmo Roldán.  The Midwest leg of our speaking tour started in Oberlin, OH, hosted by NISGUA sponsoring community, the Santa Elena Project of Accompaniment (SEPA).

Similar to other sponsoring communities who are connected to NISGUA's Guatemalan Accompaniment Project (G.A.P.), SEPA's direct support to G.A.P. is a concrete example of their solidarity with our partners, the AJR. SEPA was proud to host Anselmo and continue supporting the movement for justice in Guatemala.
Members of SEPA and other attendees at our Oberlin College presentations joined our postcard campaign, sharing why the genocide sentence is important to them. Some highlights from their messages include:
It is vital to give truth and validity to the voices of people that experienced genocide and make sure the law is upheld.

I feel deeply the loss of your loved ones and I want to help you remember them in the strongest way – to let the truth be known.

I believe in the people of Guatemala.

I believe in supporting the truth!  Thank you for your courage and dedication to justice.

It is important that people can live where they have the right to live, and speak their language, and love their families and support themselves without fear.

In addition, Anselmo was able to rest a bit and enjoy a true U.S. Fall while in Oberlin. He happily pitched in raking fallen leaves with SEPA member John Gates!

From Oberlin, Anselmo and NISGUA staffer Ellen Moore headed west to Chicago for three exciting presentations! A Loyola University faculty member hosted two presentations with Anselm, where he spoke to over 80 students who attended from three different universities across Chicago. The students, some hearing about the Guatemalan genocide for the first time, sent powerful messages of support back to Guatemala for the AJR:
Les mandamos nuestro apoyo a la sentencia por genocidio desde Chicago. Es importante estar unidos en tiempos difíciles para poder ejercer cambios.

The calculated, systematic murder of a group of people by their government, which it is supposed to protect and serve, is the greatest crimes imaginable. I support your cause and believe in justice.

The injustice cannot be silenced anymore

I support a world community committed to bringing all crimes against humanity to justice.

Genocide is a tragedy and justice is a basic human rights.

I believe in the right to life, I believe in a lawful government.

We rounded out our Chicago visit with an evening community event at the University Church Chicago. The Guatemala Partnership, based at University Church, graciously hosted a dinner for Anselmo followed by a public presentation. Anselmo spoke before a packed room, sharing his story as a genocide survivor and human rights defender. University Church is deeply connected to the struggle for justice. The Church was a sanctuary church during the 1980s, providing crucial support for Guatemalans fleeing the internal armed conflict. The Church's commitment to peace, justice and solidarity continues:

La verdad es una fuerza que tiene vida propia.  Su ejemplo y su valor me ha cambiado la vida para siempre. Gracias – Reverend Sara Wohlleb

It represents a historic and brave decision for justice and truth and is an example and beacon of hope for the world that those who commit atrocities will be brought to justice.

Until my teacher spent class time to discuss what happened, I was unaware of the genocide. I am amazed by the AJR’s strength. I want to support the people that have suffered so much.

La justicia existe y vive en nuestros corazones y sabemos que su verdad es la verdad.

Innocent people were killed and the guilty are free. There should be justice for genocide and crimes against humanity.

No one has the right to take someone else’s life.

Yo soy refugiado en Chicago con mi familia por causa de la Guerra de Rios Montt.

It is just – and there can be no peace without justice. Dear people of Guatemala, I hold you in my heart.

Finally, Ellen and Anselmo headed to Wisconsin to join NISGUA board president Melinda Van Slyke for three days of events in southern Wisconsin. Committed groups of NISGUA supporters attended community events in both Madison and Spring Green. During downtime, Anselmo and Ellen  enjoyed the natural beauty of a handful of Wisconsin's many lakes.

In Viroqua, WI, we joined longtime NISGUA supporter Connie Vanderhyden of the Kickapoo Guatemala Accompaniment Project (K/GAP) for a community event. Following Anselmo's presentation, K/GAP hosted a meal in order to continue chatting and sharing. Some messages left by attendees for the AJR include:

Every perpetrator of genocide should know that it will not stand before the law. Your courage brings tears to my eyes. Keep telling your truths. We are behind you.

Without justice there will be no peace. La Lucha continua!

Si hubo genocidio en Guatemala! Estimados miembros de la AJR – hay que saber que estamos con ustedes en solidaridad siempre!

Accountability is part of the healing process. Impunity prevents healing. The voices of the Guatemalan people have spoken the truth. Their perseverance and courage are testament to their truth. Justice requires that the sentence stand.

For all the lives lost, and for the ongoing suffering of the survivors the sentence must stand. The world is watching.

Anselmo connected with more Midwest students on his last day in Wisconsin at Viterbo University and University of Wisconsin - La Crosse. Students at both universities were captivated by Anselmo's story and joined in our campaign with these powerful messages:
I support the sentence because nobody should be above the law. These communities deserve justice.

Its not about revenge, it’s about justice and everyone deserves justice.

The AJR is courageous for standing up for themselves and coming to the US to tell their story. Thank you for coming to talk to us, and don’t be discouraged.
Please share your own message of support for the historic genocide sentence and the brave survivors of the Association for Justice and Reconciliation and continue the call for NO AMNESTY and NO IMPUNITY for war criminals! Participate today!

Continue to follow the NISGUA tour! Read about our previous stops in Tucson, D.C. and Los Angeles. See what cities we're headed to next by visiting our website.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

"Justice for genocide: A survivor's story" visits Los Angeles

The Guatemala Education and Action Project (GEAP) hosted NISGUA and the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR) on our third tour stop in Los Angeles. GEAP's events included a press conference, community event and a number of college speaking opportunities for AJR president Anselmo Roldán.

Anselmo receives a plaque by a local Guatemalan in Los Angeles.

Posters calling for justice accompany Anselmo's
presentation at a community event.

NISGUA staffer Ellen Moore supports Anselmo with interpretation.

Nearly 100 local activists and community members greeted and listened to Anselmo at the Los Angeles community-wide event. Groups in attendance included Mujeres Abriendo Caminos, Centro Colectivo de Centro America in Los Angeles, the Maya Center, AGUA, MayaVision, Local 721 SEIU, SOAWatch LA. The event was high energy, with many local Guatemalan Americans in attendance. After Anselmo's presentation, guests enjoyed marimba, dancing, a silent auction and tamales!

Anselmo is welcomed by local Guatemalans and LA activists.

Local Guatemalans who were forced to leave Guatemala due to violence joined the AJR to demand justice for genocide. They participated in our postcard campaign to send messages demonstrating their support for the survivor's organization and the historic genocide sentence back to Guatemala:
En solidaridad con las mujeres y hombres en lucha y justicia para Guatemala. No desmayan – Mujeres Abriendo Caminos

No hay lugar en este mundo, en estos días para estos criminales

Soy guatemalteco, migrante en Los Ángeles. Veo la Verdad, veo que mi pueblo necesita paz verdadera. La verdad es que hubo genocidio y los culpables deben pagar.

Porque yo soy primo, sobrino y hijo de los victimas de la Guerra en Guatemala. Todos los días pienso en una Guatemala en paz. Animo compañeros.

It is time for truth. We want justice.

It is unjust and unfair but your courage is inspiring.

Yo apoyo y los doy fuerza para que enseñen al mundo la democracia

Porque el pueblo indígena de Guatemala merece respeto. Las mejores vibras, aplausos y fuerza en su búsqueda de justicia. Estamos con ustedes.

Yo apoyo que la sentencia se mantenga para hacer valer la memoria de las personas que fueron masacradas.

Youth help raise money for the AJR at the LA community event.
A lunch colloquium at Pomona College brought together students and faculty to listen to Anselmo's story. Later that same day, Anselmo presented to a class on Central American politics at California State University - Northridge. Students from both Pomona College and CSUN engaged with great questions for Anselmo and enthusiastically responded to our postcard campaign with messages of why they support the genocide sentence:
Mis bisabuelos sobrevivieron un genocidio en Armenia que no está reconocido por todo el mundo. Entiendo que todas las victimas de crímenes contra la humanidad merecen justicia.

The people of Guatemala deserve a justice system that they can rely on to protect their rights.

Representa la esperanza de un Pueblo por la lucha por la justicia.

Justice needs to be served for the ones who died, the ones who suffered and the ones who were silenced.

I believe in a democratic government and this means that the government must protect the citizen’s rights.

My parents are from Guatemala. This is the first time I have heard of this and I will now support this case to the end. Justice must be done.

A nation cannot prosper if it oppresses its own people. For this and many more reasons, I support the genocide sentence.

The faith of the AJR is inspiring. I wish you the best of luck, strength and patience with this journey. Support from Cal State Northridge!

Continue to follow the NISGUA tour! Read about our previous stops in Tucson and D.C. See what cities we're headed to next by visiting our website.

Survivors submit complaint against Guatemalan state for denial of justice in genocide case

Genocide survivors submit a complaint before the Inter-American Commission on
Human Rights in Washington DC on November 6, 2013. Photo: AJR


Washington D.C., November 6, 2013 - Today, survivors of the Guatemalan genocide, along with civil society organizations, filed a complaint in the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) against the Guatemalan state for the continued impunity  for grave human rights violations committed against the Ixil people. The complaint is based in the violation of the American Convention on Human Rights and other international human rights treaties.

In the complaint, organizations declare that the Guatemalan state has failed to fulfill its obligation to guarantee victims their right to  justice, given that after more than 30 years no one has been held responsible for the human rights violations suffered by thousands of victims.

Thus, the state is complicit, as according to the Inter-American Court on Human Rights, "impunity creates conditions for continued human rights violations and the defenselessness of victims and their families."

Events reported to the IACHR, in relation to the case for the genocide committed against the Maya Ixil ethnic group, include more than 60 massacres and attacks by Guatemalan army soldiers that resulted in the murder of approximately 1,771 victims, as well as countless victims of forced disappearance, sexual violence, torture and forced displacement.

In addition, the groups denounced the deficiencies and irregularities in the resolutions emitted by authorities in the ongoing legal process against former army generals Efraín Ríos Montt and Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez. Examples given include: the lack of access the Defense Ministry's archives; judicial authorities' tolerance of abusive filing of injunctions, including those that are unconstitutional, and unnecessary delays in resolutions; the lack of legal basis and arbitrary nature of provisional injunction resolutions; the excessive length of the criminal process; attacks against judicial independence and the lack of protection for participants in the process.

In particular, the organizations highlighted irregularities characterized by the resolution emitted by three Constitutional Court judges on May 20, 2013, by which the process against the said former generals was annulled.

Given this situation, we the petitioners consider ourselves obligated to turn to the IACHR in the hope that the regional system for the protection of human rights can speed the processing of the complaint and assure international protection for victims in the shortest time period possible. Therefore, we ask the Commission to accept this complaint.

Resorting to the international justice system is a right enshrined in international treaties and in the Republic of Guatemala's Constitution. Thus, we turn to the Inter-American System of Human Rights Protection in order that the Guatemalan state fulfills its international obligations to uphold human rights. While impunity continues to exist, there will not be respect for human rights or full democracy in Guatemala.

For the right to a just country!
Association for Justice and Reconciliation - AJR

Center for Human Rights Legal Action - CALDH
Center for Justice and International Law - CEJIL

Guatemala's Human Rights Law Firm - BDH

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Sobrevivientes entregan denuncia contra el estado de Guatemala por denegación de justicia en el caso de genocidio


Washington D.C. 06 de noviembre 2013.- Víctimas sobrevivientes del genocidio en Guatemala y organizaciones sociales, interpusieron hoy, ante la Comisión Interamericana de Derechos Humanos (CIDH), una denuncia contra el Estado de Guatemala por la impunidad que persiste de las graves violaciones a los derechos humanos cometidas en perjuicio del pueblo ixil. La denuncia se fundamenta en la violación de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos y de otros tratados internacionales de derechos humanos.

En la denuncia, las organizaciones afirmaron que el Estado de Guatemala ha incumplido con la obligación de garantizar a las víctimas su derecho a acceder a la justicia ya que por más de 30 años no se ha juzgado a ninguno de los responsables de las violaciones sufridas por miles de víctimas.

Tal conducta compromete la responsabilidad del Estado ya que según lo ha establecido la Corte Interamericana de Derechos Humanos “la impunidad propicia la repetición crónica de las violaciones de derechos humanos y la total indefensión de las víctimas y de sus familiares”.

Algunos de los hechos que fueron denunciados ante la CIDH, en relación con el caso de genocidio cometido en contra del grupo étnico maya Ixil, consisten en más de 60 masacres y ataques de miembros del ejército guatemalteco que dejaron como saldo aproximadamente 1771 víctimas asesinadas, así como numerosas víctimas de desaparición forzada, violencia sexual, tortura y desplazamiento forzado.

Además, en relación con el proceso que se siguió en contra de los ex generales Efraín Ríos Montt y Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, se denunciaron las deficiencias e irregularidades de las resoluciones emitidas por las autoridades en el proceso penal, como por ejemplo: la falta de acceso a los archivos del Ministerio de la Defensa; tolerancia de las autoridades judiciales frente al abuso de acciones de amparo y de inconstitucionalidad y dilaciones indebidas en su resolución; la falta de fundamentación y arbitrariedad de las resoluciones de amparo provisional; la duración excesiva del proceso penal; los ataques a la independencia judicial y la falta de protección a los participantes en el proceso.

En particular, se destacaron ante la CIDH las irregularidades que caracterizaron la resolución de fecha 20 de mayo de 2013 dictada por tres miembros de la Corte de Constitucionalidad mediante la cual se anuló el proceso seguido contra los citados militares.

Ante todo lo anterior, los peticionarios nos hemos visto obligados a acudir ante la Comisión Interamericana de los Derechos Humanos, con la esperanza de que el sistema regional de protección de los derechos humanos agilice el trámite de la petición y asegure la protección internacional de las víctimas en el menor plazo posible. Por lo que pedimos a la Comisión la admisibilidad de la presente denuncia.

Acudir a la justicia internacional es un derecho consagrado en los tratados internacionales y en la Constitución Política de la República de Guatemala, por lo que acudimos al Sistema Interamericano de Protección de Derechos Humanos con el fin de que el Estado cumpla con sus obligaciones internacionales en materia de derechos humanos. Mientras haya impunidad no habrá respeto a los derechos humanos en Guatemala ni democracia plena.

¡Por el derecho a un país justo!

Asociación para la Justicia y Reconciliación - AJR
Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos – CALDH
Centro por la Justicia y el Derecho Internacional - CEJIL
Bufete Jurídico por los Derechos Humanos - BDH

Monday, November 4, 2013

"Justice for genocide: A survivor's story" DC & Tucson tour stops

On October 30, NISGUA began our tour with Association for Justice and Reconciliation president, Anselmo Roldán Aguilar. After a day of meeting with key state and congressional representatives, Anselmo gave his first presentation at the Unitarian Unitarian Church of Arlington. The event, hosted by Partners for Arlington and Guatemala, connected Anselmo with a group of dedicated individuals committed to promoting human rights and education in Guatemala as well as supporting immigrants in their local community.

In D.C., we launched our tour actions - a petition calling for NO IMPUNITY! and NO AMNESTY! for war criminals and a postcard campaign collecting messages in support of the genocide sentence. After Anselmo presented at American University, students responded with powerful submissions in support of the genocide sentence:

Justice needs to be met to the fullest extent of the law. Rios Montt was found guilty already of murder and genocide. His current “freedom” and house arrest is unlawful… the victims need closure and the Guatemalan government needs to do what is right.

All persons need justice and equal rights. The Historican Clarification Comission (CEH) declared that there was genocide in the 1980s and now is the time to remember this in the Guatemalan system. Justice is necessary for the future of Guatemala.

Yo también soy sobreviviente, pero de un crimen mucho menor. Su fuerza y su valor me inspira TANTO! Que sigan adelante! Nunca Mas! Sus crímenes son realidad, y nadie lo puede negar ni borrar. La lucha sigue!

Justicia es necesario para el futuro de Guatemala.
You can stand in solidarity with the AJR from anywhere in the world by participating in the campaign online! Take action: sign the petition to join the call for "NO AMNESTY" and share why the genocide sentence is important to you.

While at American University, former NISGUA staffer Beth Geglia sat down with Anselmo to conduct an interview about his expectations for the fall tour and what he hopes to share with US audiences. Read what Anselmo had to say in Beth's exclusive interview, “There is No Amnesty for These Crimes”: Guatemalan Massacre Survivor Anselmo Roldán Kicks Off U.S. Speaking Tour".

Anselmo finished off his D.C. visits with a potluck hosted by former NISGUA accompaniers. The gathering gave Anselmo the special opportunity to reconnect with accompaniers who once lived in his community of Cuarto Pueblo.

Anselmo and NISGUA's Guatemalan Programs Coordinator, Ellen Moore, travel across the country for their next tour engagements in Tucson, Arizona. There, a community event brought together former accompanies and immigration rights activists for a potluck and presentation with Anselmo. Participants admired the genocide sentence (pictured) and shared their own messages of support, including:

This sentence validates the painful histories that have too long been ignored. Let Guatemala set the standard for justice not impunity.

Los derechos humanos no tienen fronteras! Apoyamos a Uds. en solidaridad – gracias por su lucha para la justicia. The proof is in the sentence. Si hubo genocidio!

The next day, the AJR participated in the Tear Down the Walls national gathering, hosted by the Alliance for Global Justice, with a presentation titled "Guatemalan Genocide Case: Tearing Down the Walls of Impunity." The gathering provided the unique opportunity for cross-border relationship building during a workshop on social, ecological and economic injustices that impact indigenous communities given by the Forgotten Navajo People. Participants discussed structural violence and the imposition of harmful development projects, particularly a uranium mine on Navajo lands. They also discussed the increasing use of the penal system to control movements through the criminalization of leaders and human rights defenders, both in the US and Guatemala.

The AJR and NISGUA also participated in an assembly that focused on the war on drugs, immigration and the militarization of the border to better understand the US policies and laws that drive this deadly system.

Continue to follow the NISGUA tour! See what cities we're headed to next by visiting our website.