PBI-Guatemala accompanies CCDA Verapaz land defenders at post-sentencing hearing

Published by Brent Patterson on

On November 6, the Peace Brigades International-Guatemala Project posted on its Facebook page, “Yesterday we accompanied Jorge Coc and Marcelino Xol Cucul, members of the CCDA Verapaz, at the repair hearing. The complainant, the Chilté cooperative, has left it open for now, awaiting the possible appeal.”

PBI-Guatemala adds, “The two land defenders were sentenced a week ago to 35 years in jail.”

In response to that sentence, 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.

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