PBI-Canada webinar on Q’eqchi’ community demand for their land back, July 15
“This land is ours.” To join a webinar on this land back struggle, click here.
On July 28, 1968, the Indigenous Q’eqchi’ community of Chicoyogüito was displaced from their ancestral lands so that a Guatemalan military base could be built.
Olivia Sierra, whose grandparents were evicted in 1968, says: “When the armed forces arrived, they began to shoot, and people were beaten. People began to flee, and some fell into the river. Siblings were separated. Over 200 families were evicted.”
“They were left without clothes, without food, their homes were burned down.”
Sierra, now a community leader, adds: “I would like us to return to this land and for the soldiers to no longer be there.”
That military base became a clandestine centre for illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearance, and rape committed from 1978 to 1990.
At least 565 Indigenous people were disappeared at that base. Exhumations of mass graves at the military base began in 2012. The bodies identified are of Mayan Achí, Q’eqchi’, Pomochí, Ixil, and Kiché peoples.
At least 90 of the bodies found belonged to children.
The military base was closed in 2004 and despite its notoriety became CREOMPAZ, a United Nations peacekeeping training base. In 2009, the Government of Canada provided a CAD$250,000 grant for the training of soldiers at CREOMPAZ and has continued to support this base in various ways since then.
Every year since 2008, the Chicoyogüito community has held a peaceful march to demand that their lands be returned to them.
Sierra says: “Here we are the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren [of those evicted]. Every year we do this march.”
Last month, 21 members of the Chicoyogüito community were arrested when they prepared to hold a protest to demand that their territory be returned to them.
Sierra says about 200 people gathered on June 9 for a peaceful march but that protest did not take place because the police arrived before it began.
According to CALDH, the police used excessive force, injuring some of the community members. Those arrested were taken to the Cobán Penal Center without being heard by a judge or being treated for their injuries.
After nine days in jail, a fist statement hearing was held on June 18.
Three of those arrested were sent to pretrial detention, while bail for the other 18 was set at 5,000 Quetzal. This for a community with incomes of less than Q300 a month. The hearing for review of coercive measure will be on July 12.
On Thursday July 15, please join our webinar to hear the latest on that court hearing, the annual march, and the continued demand for land back.
It will feature a member of Q’eqchi’ community of Chicoyogüito, human rights lawyer Édgar Pérez Archila who represents the families displaced by the military base, and Rachel Small of World Beyond War Canada who will provide context on the displacement of Indigenous peoples around the world for military bases. It will be moderated by PBI-Canada Board member Marianna Tzabiras.
To register, please click here.
The webinar will have simultaneous translation in English and Spanish.
Photo by La Hora.