Several hundred traveled from Guatemala City to Nebaj on June 21-22 with the
“Caravan for the Dignity of the Ixil People and Against Genocide”. Photo: NISGUA
Ixil authorities welcome organizations to Nebaj. Photo: NISGUA

Each year on June 22, the Ixil people remember their martyrs and heroes. The day commemorates seven principal Ixil leaders who rose up in resistance and called for the dignity of their people in the face of forced labor under the Jorge Ubico dictatorship. On the morning of June 22, 1936, military troops arrived from Santa Cruz Quiché and Sacapulas to squash the resistance and soldiers shot and killed the seven Ixil leaders. The Ixil people have reclaimed June 22 as their Day of Dignity. For a more detailed account of the 1936 rebellion and massacre, see this article (in Spanish).

This year, in mark of the historic verdict for the Ixil people in the genocide case, a caravan of activists and supporters traveled from Guatemala City to Nebaj to celebrate the Day of Dignity and commemorate the seven massacred leaders with the Ixil people. In a moving demonstration of the lasting importance of the genocide sentence, regardless of the trial annulment, the Center for Human Rights Legal Action and the Association for Justice and Reconciliation presented Ixil leaders with three bound copies of the genocide sentence for the people of Nebaj, Chajul and Cotzal.

CALDH and the AJR present the genocide sentence in Nebaj.
Foreground sign “To tell the truth is not a crime”. Photo: NISGUA
Ixil leaders proudly hold the genocide sentence.
Photo: Marcha indígena campesina y popular

Indigenous leaders from all over Guatemala also joined the Day of Dignity activities in solidarity with the Ixil people. In addition, an assembly of indigenous authorities formed in Nebaj to concretely plan activities for August 9, the International Day of Indigenous Peoples. Together, the authorities drafted a declaration based on their meetings. Below we share our translation of the declaration. Read the Spanish version here.


The Ancestral Indigenous Maya and Xinka Authorities of the 48 Communities of Totonicapán, the Mam Nation, the Xinka People, the Pokoman, Kaqchikel, Uspanteko, and Ixil Peoples

We are gathered together in the heart of the Ixil region, specifically in Nebaj, first to commemorate the 1936 uprising of the principal leaders of the Ixil people, of which 7 were shot by the Jorge Ubico dictatorship, and then to share our experiences, our struggles, our resistance and resilience, our joys, our sadness, our laughing, our weeping, our dreams, our frustrations, our past and our future:


To reaffirm that we are not the descendants of defeated or subjected people and heroes. Throughout the last five centuries, thousands of uprisings in defense of life and territory have been recorded, such as those of our ancestors Atanasio Tzul, Lucas Akiral, Aj Poop B’atz’, Manuel Tot, and the principal leaders of the Ixil people in 1936, among many others.

To value the struggle, resistance and participation of women, rural farmworkers, students, professionals, people defending their rights, their natural resources and territories in the face of extractive policies such as those in San José El Golfo, San Pedro Ayampuc, Rio Hondo Zacapa, the Chorti People, among others.

To continue the resistance of our people and communities based on our common history, looking towards the future in the construction of the good life in a plurinational, democratic and just state.

To celebrate the International Day of Indigenous Peoples on August 9 of the present year, together with the rest of the Guatemalan people and as peoples with the same past, present and future.

To strengthen our community authorities, our processes of organizing, our thoughts, feelings and community decision-making practices and to act in a collective manner for the satisfaction of our needs and defense of our rights.

To call on all of Guatemala’s ancestral indigenous authorities and social organizations that already participate in defense of our rights and territory, as well as the Garífuna people to participate in the celebration on the International Day of Indigenous Peoples, and to support other actions that our peoples’ authorities put forward.

We reject all resolutions, attempts, proposals or initiatives that attempt to declare invalid, or try to regulate from a Western viewpoint, the community consultations which have been carried out, are carried out, and will continue to be carried out by our peoples.

We reject any measure stemming from the government which exclude and repudiate our right to decide over the future of our peoples and our country.

“May the dawn break, may the first light arrive,
may the people have life and useful existence”

Council of Maya Ixil Authorities, Board of Directors of the Communal Mayors of the 48 Communities of Totonicapán, the Council of the Maya Mam Nation, Xinka Parliament, Kaqchikel, Uspanteka and Pokomam Indigenous Authorities, and the National Council of Ancestral Authorities.

Nebaj, waq’ib’ aq’b’al, junab’ jun iq’, jun katún, kajlajuj b’aqtun
Nebaj, June 22, 2013