PBI-Guatemala accompanies Human Rights Law Firm at hearing on evictions that preceded the police killing of three Q’eqchi’ community members
On April 13, PBI-Guatemala posted:
“#PBI accompanies the Human Rights Law Firm to the hearing on the presentation of evidence of the #SamocochCase.
In the course of the hearing the technical defense presented three witnesses, who witnessed the evictions of August 14 and 15, 2014. In addition, one of the accused gave statement about their involvement in the facts investigated.”
PBI-Guatemala has previously explained: “More than 20 PNC officers are accused of extrajudicial execution, non-compliance with duties and abuse of authority for having caused the death of three Q’eqchi’ community members from Samococh village in Chisec, Alta Verapaz, during a demonstration [on August 15, 2014].”
The demonstration appears to have been against the Santa Rita hydroelectric dam on the Dolores River in Alta Verapaz.
Truthout explains: “In Monte Olivo, the state used its full force against the community. On August 14, 2014, 600 police units were deployed to evict a community of a few hundred families along the River Dolores. …In the following days, two other communities, 9 de Febrero and Samococh, both faced similar violent evictions to make way for the dam. These communities were driven out by 1,600 police units, and 22 community leaders were detained.”
Prensa Libre further notes: “The PNC agents who arrived came from Cobán, where the Public Ministry successfully evicted some 160 families who were occupying the Santa Rita and Santa Rita Xalahá Canguini farms. In the first community [Santa Rita], families lived to avoid the construction of a hydroelectric plant [that lacked their free, prior and informed consent].”
Truthout adds: “The Guatemalan-based company Hydro Electrical Santa Rita S.A., owned by the elite López-Roesch family, first proposed the Santa Rita hydro project in 2009. The powerful and influential cement company Cementos Progreso, owned by the Guatemalan Novella family, is reported to also have interests in the project.”
The three community members killed were Sebastian Rax Caal, 29; Luciano Can Cujub, 40; and Oscar Chen Quej, 22.
We continue to follow this.