PBI-Guatemala accompanies unjustly imprisoned Maya Q’eqchi’ defenders Jorge Coc Coc, Marcelino Xol Cucul and Bernard Caal Xol
On January 25, PBI-Guatemala posted: “Yesterday, PBI accompanied Jorge Coc Coc and Marcelino Xol Cucul, indigenous authorities of the CCDA Verapaz and Bernardo Caal Xol of the Pacific Resistance of Cahabon. The three fulfill sentences, results of criminalization processes for their work in defense of the land and the territory.”
Jorge Coc Coc and Marcelino Xol Cucul
In their December 2021 monthly update, PBI-Guatemala explained: “Jorge Coc Coc and Marcelino Xol Cucul [are] human rights defenders and community leaders from Choctún Basilá, who have been criminalized and imprisoned since 2018.”
Both are Maya Q’eqchi defenders with the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA) in the Verapaz region that fights for access to land and against continued evictions and dispossession from ancestral lands.
Earlier this month, the German newspaper Junge Welt also reported: “Jorge Coc Coc and Marcelino Xol Cucul, local indigenous authorities from the Choctun Basilá community in Cobán County and members of the CCDA, were sentenced to 35 years in prison in 2019 on fabricated charges of murder and attempted murder.”
On December 6, 2021, the CCDA tweeted: “This day the Criminal Chamber suspends the public hearing in the case of Jorge Choc and Marcelino Xol due to lack of integration; this constitutes malicious delay because the hearing was scheduled for November 10, 2020.”
Bernardo Caal Xol
Bernardo Caal Xol is a leader of the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón, a collective of 38 Maya Q’eqchi communities formed to oppose the construction of the Oxec and Renace dams on the Cahabón River and its tributaries.
PBI-United Kingdom has noted: “In August 2017, PBI provided security support to the good-faith consultation in which the 195 communities of the Cahabón River overwhelmingly rejected the Oxec hydroelectric projects.”
The Guatemalan Human Rights Commission (GHRC) highlights: “A few months later [in December 2017], Bernardo was arrested [in] a clear act of retribution for the defense of his community’s water rights.”
In November 2018, Bernardo was sentenced to seven years and four months in jail.
In July 2020, Amnesty International declared that Caal Xol is a prisoner of conscience who has been wrongfully imprisoned.
On January 23 of this year, Bernardo tweeted: “On January 30, 2022, I will complete 4 years of being imprisoned without proof of the crimes that have served to accuse me.”
PBI-Guatemala has accompanied the Campesino Committee of the Highlands (CCDA) Verapaz since July 2018 and the Peaceful Resistance of Cahabón since 2017.