PBI-Guatemala accompanies hearing for 21 Indigenous people arrested for seeking the return of their lands from a military base
CasoCREOMPAZ: The women of the Chicoyogüito community, outside the Court, awaiting the fate of their companions, express their demands “We only demand what is ours, our lands.” Photo by Prensa Comunitaria.
On June 18, Prensa Comunitaria reported on the first statement hearing for 21 residents of Chicoyogüito arrested on June 9 when they were preparing to participate in a demonstration to demand the return of their lands dispossessed by the army in 1968.
Prensa Comunitaria notes: “Journalists and communicators who were going to document the hearing of the first statement of the 21 residents could not enter the court.”
“The hearing of the first statement of 21 residents of the Chicoyogüito community accused of aggravated usurpation began around 9 a.m.”
“The protesters said they did not intend to carry out an invasion, but to demand the return of their lands, dispossessed by the army in 1968, to build military zone number 21, which was a center for illegal detention, torture and extrajudicial executions.”
That article adds: “Outside the courthouse, dozens of residents of the community expressed their solidarity with the detainees, calling for their release. ‘We are not invaders’ and ‘Political Prisoners’ can be read on the blankets they carried.”
The Centre for Legal Action of Human Rights (CALDH) has also stated that when the defenders were arrested on June 9 the police used excessive force, injuring some of the demonstrators and violating the right to freedom of demonstration. CALDH further notes that those arrested were taken to the Cobán Penal Center without being treated for their injuries.
Canada at Creompaz
In Creompaz: Guatemala’s ‘Little School of the Americas’, Canadian journalist Dawn Paley writes: “Evidence uncovered by forensic anthropologists shows that people disappeared from various regions were later brought to the military base at Coban by soldiers for interrogation and torture, followed by extrajudicial execution and secret burial.”
She further notes: “Regardless of the mass graves at the base, military and police training continues there, supported by countries like the US and Canada.” The support from Canada has included a CAD$250,000 grant in 2009 and the purchase of specialized equipment in 2014 for a training program at Creompaz.
PBI accompaniment in Chicoyogüito
PBI-Guatemala accompanies the Chicoyogüito Neighborhood Association of Alta Verapaz (AVECHAV) which represents the 250 families displaced by the construction of the base on their lands. The survivors and relatives of the displaced families continue to ask that their lands be returned to them and that their dispossession by the military comes to an end.