PBI-Guatemala accompanies CCDA Verapaz land and territory defenders at their sentencing

Published by Brent Patterson on

On October 30, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted on Facebook that it had accompanied CCDA Verapaz land and territory defenders Marcelino Xol and Jorge Coc at court for their sentencing.

In response to their sentencing, the Campesino Committee of the Highlands CCDA Verapaz posted, “Urgent! Sentence of 35 years in prison to land and territory defenders. The crime is to defend life, defend the rights of mother earth.”

UDEFEGUA (the Protection Unit for Human Rights Defenders) adds, “We express our solidarity with the human rights defenders Marcelino Xol and Jorge Coc who were sentenced to 35 years in prison for crimes of homicide and attempted murder…”

“Both defenders were criminalized by the Chilté Cooperative, in the village Choctun Basilá, a company that is depriving them of their territory and has been involved in the murder of community leaders in the area.”

UDEFEGUA comments, “The co-optation of the justice system and the criminal policy of the State to demobilize and repress the defense of human rights in the country, mainly defenders of the territory, is evidenced once again.”

PBI-Guatemala has previously explained, “Jorge has declared that on the day of the events he was at his home in Las Pacayas taking care of his sick father. Marcelino says that on July 13, 2017 he was teaching in a community in Chisec, several hours from the scene of the crime. Despite their testimonies of innocence, the inconsistencies in the testimonies from the witnesses to the crime and the failure of the accusers to individualize the crimes both men were formally charged and imprisoned.”

After the sentencing, PBI-Guatemala posted, “This sentence will be appealed. This case is an example of the criminalization and decriminalization of agricultural conflict in the Verapaces. We express our solidarity with the defenders and their families.”

PBI-Guatemala began accompanying the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA), a campesino organization that accompanies and advises mostly Indigenous communities on land rights issues, in July 2018.

For more on this, please see PBI-Guatemala accompanies CCDA Verapaz leaders Marcelino Xol and Jorge Coc at hearing (October 17), PBI-Guatemala attends court hearing for two criminalized members of CCDA Verapaz (October 5), PBI-Guatemala accompanies Indigenous CCDA Verapaz land defenders at court hearings (August 23) and PBI-Guatemala accompanies Marcelino Xol Cucul and Jorge Coc from the CCDA at a court hearing (June 18).

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