PBI-Guatemala accompanies Human Rights Law Firm at trial of Mayan Poqomchi defender Sofia Tot accused of “usurpation”

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On February 20, PBI-Guatemala posted:

“Yesterday, #PBI accompanied the Human Rights Law Firm at the Cobán Courts Tower, Alta Verapaz, at the beginning of the conclusions of the Sofia Case. Sofia, Mayan Poqomchi woman, is criminalized and accused of usurpation of private property in protected areas and exploiting its resources.

The Public Office and adhesive plaintiffs are calling for between 6 and 8 years in prison for the region’s renowned defender.”

Ruda has explained that Sofía Tot, defender and indigenous authority of Purulhá, Baja Verapaz, is accused of aggravated usurpation.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, a former UN Special Rapporteur on Indigenous Rights, has written that “usurpation” is when “Indigenous peoples become [are charged with being] trespassers or illegal occupants of their own lands.”

ActionAid adds that Tot belongs to the resistance movement for the recovery of the ancestral land of the Mayan Poqomchi people.

They further note: “The activist has always worked in defense of the Sierra de las Minas, affected by mineral extraction concessions. This is despite the fact that 52% of this territory is tropical rainforest. Today, it is heavily affected by deforestation and the pollution of its rivers. According to official information, she is accused of the crime of ‘usurpation of a protected natural area’. Specifically, they point out that by accessing an area where the emblematic quetzal bird lives.”

PBI-Guatemala has accompanied the Human Rights Law Firm (BDH) since 2013.

We continue to follow this.

Photo: Sofía Tot, defender and Indigenous authority of Purulhá, Baja Verapaz. Photo by Rony Morales.

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