PBI-Guatemala accompanies Indigenous Maya Kaqchikel journalist Norma Sancir who was arrested after police fired tear gas at a peaceful protest

Published by Brent Patterson on

On December 20, PBI-Guatemala posted:

“#PBI accompanies community journalist Maya Kaqchikel Norma Sancir in continuation of oral and public debate over her 2014 arbitrary arrest by 5 policemen charged in the case.

On this occasion the listing of documentary evidence was presented by both sides, and a new evidence was added by the plaintiff.

The debate reaches the conclusion phase, which will start on Wednesday, January 3 at 12pm, in the Chiquimula Criminal Sentence Court.”

Prensa Comunitaria documented the details of her arrest on September 17, 2014:

“She was arrested after she had left her home in Camotán and had taken a motorcycle taxi to go to where the peaceful rally was located near the Jupilingo bridge – located at kilometer 204 of the highway that connects the municipality of Camotán with the border with Honduras ‘El Florido.’

Not even two minutes had passed since she arrived, and she was not yet at the scene, when a patrol intercepted her and without saying a word arrested her. It was about eight o’clock in the morning. Just fifteen minutes earlier, more than 150 police officers had arrived at this place with the aim of breaking up the gathering.

She shouted, ‘Let go of me, let go of me! I’m a journalist, I’m a journalist!’.

Clearly, we are facing an action of violation of freedom of opinion and expression, impeding her work as a journalist, and a case of criminalization of the social struggle and in this case of those who document and assume the role of informing.

When Norma was arrested, she was taken directly to the head of the department in the city of Chiquimula, and was not presented before a judge until three in the afternoon. This is more than the stipulated six-hour time for this. In addition, she was not allowed to make any calls, as she requested.”

The full article can be read (in Spanish) at Periodista Norma Sancir: su detención violenta la libertad de expresión.

Prensa Comunitaria has also highlighted:

“The demonstration by peasant organizations and Ch’orti’ indigenous authorities lasted two days. They demanded the approval of initiative 4084, the Law of the National Rural Development System, which proposed to combat malnutrition and poverty in the country. That proposal was stuck in Congress, where deputies from the extinct Patriot and Leader parties blocked the agenda or broke the quorum by abandoning the sessions.”

Sancir has recently stated:

“There were two days of demonstration, the first day I covered the whole day giving information about what was happening in the place, why the people were there demonstrating, what their demands were, however, on the second day, I could not publish a note where the Ch’orti’ population was being violently evicted on the Jupilingo bridge, because when I was on my way to the place I was arrested. It’s a shame that journalists who are doing their work are being detained, because that story didn’t come out that day.”

Several years ago, when Sancir visited Quebec in May 2018, she told Radio Canada Internacional: “Freedom of information will exist when they let us tell the truth. We believe that freedom of expression should not be exclusive for the benefit of journalists working in the major media or for an editorial line.”

We continue to follow this.

Further reading: Inicia juicio contra policías que detuvieron ilegalmente a la periodista Norma Sancir (Prensa Comunitaria, May 15, 2023)

You can also watch this 2-minute video from #NoNosCallarán.

Categories: News Updates

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