Take immediate action to express your support for international human rights accompaniment and human rights defenders in Guatemala!
Dear Mr. Julio Ligorría Carballido, Guatemalan Ambassador to the United States,
The below signed members of the Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala (NISGUA) write with deep concern regarding the decision of the Guatemalan government to cancel the temporary residence permits of two international accompaniers representing Peace Brigades International (PBI). The measure was the result of two resolutions issued on July 1, 2014 by Guatemala’s Ministry of the Interior and Office of Migration Services. The resolutions did not state the reasons or events that led to the visa revocation, nor did they provide evidence to justify the decision. Ten days after the resolutions were issued, and on the same day the volunteers were required to leave the country, the Minister of the Interior Mauricio López Bonilla informed PBI that the revocations had been annulled and the accompaniers would be allowed to remain in the country.
We denounce the attempt to undermine international accompaniment and observation, efforts implemented by PBI at the request of individuals, communities, and organizations under threat. We express our grave concern about the targeting of international observers who provide human rights protective accompaniment and the use of these strategies as a means of undermining the security of human rights defenders in Guatemala. We reiterate our solidarity with PBI Guatemala, a sister organization carrying out impeccable work in defense of human rights.
For more than thirty years, NISGUA and the Guatemala Accompaniment Project have played a vital role in creating and protecting political space for Guatemalans to defend civil, political, economic, social, cultural, environmental, and indigenous rights. NISGUA volunteers, like those from PBI, provide the non-partisan, non-interventionist and non-violent observation that human rights defenders depend on to carry out their work in the face of actual and potential human rights threats and attacks. This work is recognized in the United Nations Declaration on the Right and Responsibility of Individuals, Groups and Organs of Society to Promote and Protect Universally Recognized Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, which underscores the fundamental role of international cooperation in contributing to the protection of human rights.
We request that you call on President Otto Pérez Molina, the Ministry of the Interior and the Office of Migration Services to respect the right of Guatemalans to carry out their work in defense of human rights and to request the presence of international accompaniment and observation when that work is at risk. We also ask that you demand clarification from the Office of Migration Services for the hasty and irregular process by which the permits were initially revoked. Finally, we ask that you call on the state of Guatemala and its corresponding institutions to uphold their obligation to protect human rights defenders, recognizing the critical role they play in the construction of a participatory democracy with respect for the rule of law.
We look forward to your response and thank you in advance for your consideration of the above requests.
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala/NISGUA and the Guatemala Accompaniment Project network:
Guatemala Accompaniment Project Council, USA
Copper Country Guatemala Accompaniment Project, MI
Kickapoo Guatemala Accompaniment Project, WI
Lakes Area Group Organizing for Guatemala (LAGOS), MN
Needham Congregational Church/Guatemala Partnership, MA
New Hampshire-Vermont Guatemala Accompaniment Project, NH-VT
Santa Elena Project of Accompaniment, OH
Task Force on the Americas, CA
Wyoming Guatemala Accompaniment Project, WY
Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington-Partners for Arlington and Guatemala, VA
United States Embassy in Guatemala
Political Affairs Officer Norman Galimba
Guatemalan Consulates in the United States
Guatemala Office of Migration Services
Director Manual Vicente Roca Menéndez
President of the Republic of Guatemala
Otto Pérez Molina
Guatemalan Ministry of the Interior
Mauricio López Bonilla