PBI-Guatemala meets with AVECHAV for update on 21 members facing court date on March 30

Published by Brent Patterson on

In their January 2022 Monthly Information Package, PBI-Guatemala reports:

“Regarding our accompaniment of the Residents Association of Chicoyogüito, Alta Verapaz (AVECHAV), we held a meeting with their members to update us on their activities and the progress of the legal proceedings faced by 21 members who have been accused of committing the crime of aggravated trespassing during their participation in a demonstration last year demanding their right to the land from which they were dispossessed in 1968.”

PBI-Guatemala has previously noted: “On October 6, 2021, we were present at the Cóban Courthouse to accompany the 21 community members of AVECHAV who were detained during a peaceful march on June 9, 2021, and who were later tried. The hearing was suspended and rescheduled for March 30, 2022.”

Background

The Indigenous Q’eqchi’ community of Chicoyogüito was violently displaced from their ancestral lands so that an army base – then known as Military Zone 21 – could be established in the department of Alta Verapaz. More than 200 families were displaced from those lands on July 28, 1968, by the military.

After the displacement of the community, the 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. The bodies identified are of Mayan Achí, Q’eqchi’, Pomochí, Ixil, and Kiché peoples.

The military base is considered the largest clandestine cemetery in Latin America.

The military base that displaced his community was rebranded in 2004 as Creompaz, a training base for UN peacekeepers funded by Canada and other countries.

Dawn Paley has written: “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.

Photo: CREOMPAZ, March 20, 2021.

At the bottom of this website (dated 2022), the Peace Operations Training Institute that partners with CREOMPAZ “to provide e-learning on peacekeeping courses” thanks Global Affairs Canada’s Peace and Stabilization Operations Programme for their funding.

Domingo, a member of AVECHAV, highlighted on a PBI-Canada webinar on July 15, 2021: “We know Canada has provided a lot of support for [the Creompaz peacekeeping base on our land]. But where is the peace that they say they are creating?”

On September 15, 2021, Domingo also presented to 4th year students at the University of Victoria about the situation for his community.

We will be following the court case for the criminalized AVECHAV members on March 30.

PBI-Guatemala has accompanied AVECHAV since 2015.

Past Monthly Information Packages from PBI-Guatemala can be read here.

“This land is ours”

Categories: News Updates

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