PBI-Guatemala monitors the criminalization of 21 defenders of the Q’eqchi’ community of Chicoyogüito sent to trial
On March 30, PBI-Guatemala amplified this statement from CasoCreompaz:
“SENT TO TRIAL: 21 COMPANEROS FROM THE CHICOYOGUITO COMMUNITY CRIMINALIZED FOR DEFENDING THEIR TERRITORY
Today the judge of the First Criminal Court of First Instance of Coban sent to trial 21 of our companeros from the community of Chicoyoguito, who were criminalized when we began a peaceful demonstration.
This resolution evidences that it is a criminal proceeding that attacks defenders as usurpers of the territory where they exercised their right to demonstrate on June 9 of last year while we started a peaceful protest to demand that they return our land to us from the place that today is CREOMPAZ and from which we were evicted by the Guatemalan Army.
The community of Chicoyoguito since the violent eviction in 1968 has fought to recover the territory; from the grandmothers and grandfathers who lived through the eviction to the granddaughters and grandsons who today claim this legitimate demand and even if they want to criminalize our companeros, we will continue having struggle because we maintain long live the memory and the demand that our territory be returned to us.
We urge social organizations, human rights, the national and international community to be vigilant and support us.
WE CONITNUE TO BE THE CHICOYOGUITO COMMUNITY SEPARATED BY THE EVICTION, UNITED WITH OUR MEMORY OF THE CHICOYOGUITO COMMUNITY.”
Concerns were raised about the transparency of the hearing yesterday.
Next trial date, April 21
Caso Creompaz has also posted: “The trial offering hearing will be on April 21.”
The Indigenous Q’eqchi’ community of Chicoyogüito was violently displaced on July 28, 1968, from their ancestral lands so that an army base – then known as Military Zone 21 – could be established in the department of Alta Verapaz.
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.
On July 15, 2021, Olivia and Domingo, members of AVECHAV, highlighted on a PBI-Canada webinar: “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 Seb Bonet’s 4th year students at the University of Victoria about the situation for this community.
We continue to follow this situation from Canada.
PBI-Guatemala has accompanied the Chicoyogüito Neighborhood Association of Alta Verapaz (AVECHAV) since 2015.
“This land is ours”