Front Line Award for Ixquisis

Front Line press conference

Front Line Defenders, the Ireland-based human rights organization, today recognized the communities of Ixquisis, in northern Huehuetenango, for their nonviolent defense of the environment.

Presenting its 2018 Award for Human Rights Defenders at Risk in the Americas, Front Line praised the communities’ “collective efforts and peaceful struggle to defend their rights to land and environmental justice.”

Joel Raymundo de Ixquisis“We are in a very difficult struggle, we are growing old, but we want the future generations -our families, our children- to be able to enjoy the blessings that God had given us so that we may live on this earth.”
– Joel Raymundo, Ixquisis defender

Front Line commended the communities’ work “in response to the grave human rights violations committed in the name of ‘economic development’ in Guatemala,” specifically the imposition of hydroelectric projects that are causing environmental damage and social conflict.

The government has authorities destructive mining and hydroelectric mega-projects in the region despite the widespread opposite from the 59 villages and 7 communities in the municipality. Human rights defenders in the Peaceful Resistance risk their lives to defend the territory. In 2017 alone, there were more than 75 reported attacks against defenders in the Peaceful Resistance including killings, shootings, harassment, and defamation campaigns. – Front Line

The Human Rights Defender’s Project congratulates the families of Ixquisis for this important recognition of their valiant struggle to defend their land, water, and environment!

Here is a brief, excellent video about the Ixquisis resistance (with English subtitles):

Nota_Front_Line_Ixquisis

Killings of Human Rights Defenders

Press conference denouncing murder of community defenders

Last week Dania and I attended a somber press conference denouncing the recent murders of three community leaders who were defending the rights of  campesinos (family farmers) and indigenous Mayans in Guatemala.

Increasingly, community leaders, organizers and activists in Guatemala are coming under attack for defending their land, culture, and the environment.

The Guatemalan government, instead of guaranteeing these rights, has placed human rights defenders at greater risk by openly disparaging their work and their organizations.

Here are some additional resources:

U.N. Human Rights spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani says human rights defenders in the country are operating within a climate of fear, harassment and intimidation.

“We call on the authorities to promptly investigate these murders and other attacks and threats against human rights defenders, and to ensure that those found responsible are held accountable. We also urge the State to adopt all necessary measures to ensure a safe, enabling environment for human rights defenders to be able to carry out their work free from threats and attacks,” she said.

Human Rights Defenders Killed in Guatemala, by Lisa Schlein of the VOA (article, English)

“We call on the Government to address these issues as part of its efforts to strengthen the rule of law, the protection of the rights to freedom of expression and judicial independence, and the fight against impunity and corruption. We trust that the Government will honor its commitment to advance with the adoption of a Public Policy on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, with the participation of civil society at local and national levels. We also reiterate the High Commissioner’s call for the Government to strengthen the inter-institutional Unit on Analysis of patterns of attacks against human rights defenders”.

Press briefing notes on Guatemala, by Ravina Shamdasani – Spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (English)

“There is a ongoing policy of repression, intimidation and violence directed at indigenous communities and peasant famers. Illegal, clandestine security groups are being armed and financed by powerful sectors that are fomenting land grabs, impunity and corruption in the region.”

Ante el Desalojo de Dirigentes Comunitarios, by Civil Society organizations (Press release, Español).

 

A new beginning!

Co-directors Dania and RobIt is with tremendous pleasure that we announce the inauguration of our organization, the Human Rights Defenders Project! Our passion and purpose is to serve and support human rights defenders in Guatemala. We hope that you will join us and help us to build this dream together.

¡Con gran placer anunciamos la inauguración de nuestra organización, The Human Rights Defenders Project! Nuestra pasión y propósito es servir y apoyar a defensoras y defensores de los derechos humanos de Guatemala. ¡Esperamos que ustedes se nos unan para construir este sueño juntos!

– Dania Rodríguez & Rob Mercatante –

Council stands with human rights defenders

Michel Forst - UN Special Rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders

From The International Service for Human Rights:

The Human Rights Council has united to adopt a consensus resolution on the protection of human rights defenders. The resolution, extending the mandate of the UN Special Rapporteur, comes at a time when the work of defenders has never been more important nor more threatened.

The UN Human Rights Council – the world’s peak human rights body – has today adopted a resolution which affirms the vital and legitimate work of human rights defenders and extends the mandate of a UN expert tasked to support and protect them.

‘Through this resolution the Council has sent an important signal that human rights work is legitimate, and that human rights defenders must be respected and protected by States and non-state actors,’ said ISHR’s Director of Human Rights Council Advocacy, Michael Ineichen.

Source: Council unites to stand with human rights defenders | ISHR