Jimmy Morales Cabrera, President of the Republic of Guatemala,
Thelma Aldana, Attorney General and Head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office
Carlos Moran, Secretary for Agrarian Affairs – SAA
Mario Estuardo Mendez Cobar, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food – MAGA
Francisco Rivas Lara, Minister of the Interior
General Manager, Axel López, Fontierras
Jorge de Leon Duque, Human Rights Ombudsman- PDH
Presidential Commission for the Coordination of the Executive Comisión Presidencial Coordinadora de la Política del Ejecutivo en materia de Derechos Humanos -COPREDEH
Canada, July 7, 2016
On Wednesday, June 8, Daniel Choc Pop, indigenous Q’eqchi leader, peasant farmer and member of the Highland’s Committee of Peasant Farmers – CCDA, was murdered in San Juan Los Tres Ríos, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Daniel had represented his community in meetings with State institutions responsible for resolving land conflicts, including the Secretary for Agrarian Affairs of the President (SAA), the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA), the Land Fund (Fontierras) and the National System for Dialgoue since 2012 when his community began to seek legal title for the land (tierra baldia) on which they are living. Daniel was a regional representative of the CCDA and not only represented his community of San Juan Los Tres Ríos, but also a number of other communities in the region that are at risk of forced evictions, death threats, intimidations and criminalization.
Just weeks before Daniel’s murder, community members had denounced threats they had received to the Public Prosecutor’s (MP) Office and the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (PDH) in Coban, Alta Verapaz. Eighty-two members of the CCDA, who are working on resolving land conflicts and recuperation of lands due to ancestral rights, have warrants out for their arrest. This is a form of intimidation and repression of community rights to organize and defend their territory.
As a community leader and member of the CCDA, Daniel had received political training by the UN High Commission for Human Rights in strategic litigation for emblematic cases, had participated in the 2012 Indigenous, Peasant and Popular March and the recent Water March in April 2016. In 2015, Daniel was one of the key organizers of the “Q’eqchi Community,” when more than 400 Q’eqchi families set up outside the Presidential House in zona 1 as a form of peaceful resistance with hopes to resolve the land crisis they face.
According to witnesses, Daniel was surrounded by security guards from finca Rancho Alegre before being shot and killed on the afternoon of June 8. Less than 24 hours later, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Governor of Alta Verapaz, the Land Fund, the Presidential Commission for Human Rights – COPREDEH, and the Secretary for Agrarian Affairs held a press conference where they claimed that Daniel’s murder was an isolated event, not related to the land conflict, but rather of a personal matter. Daniel’s family, his community and the CCDA have roundly rejected this theory. Daniel’s long trajectory and formation as a community leader working to resolve land conflicts in the region of Alta Verapaz must be considered while this case is investigated.
San Juan Los Tres Ríos is just one of the communities in the region in urgent need to resolve the land conflict, which has left community members, like Daniel, in great risk. The Government of Guatemala, through accords and agreements signed in the past, including Governmental Accord 181-2015, has the responsibility to promptly resolve the land conflicts in Alta Verapaz while ensuring the security and the protection of human rights of indigenous Q’eqchi communities.
We, the undersigned urge:
- A full and impartial investigation into the murder of Daniel Choc Pop that established the material and intellectual authors of the murder.
- Immediate security for the family of Daniel and the community of San Juan Los Tres Ríos
- Immediate and just compensation for the partner and two children of Daniel Choc Pop
- To prevent further human rights violations, that the Agrarian Institutions of the State take action in cases that are prioritized by the CCDA This includes immediate action in implementing Governmental Accord 181-2015, which would lead to a resolution to the cases of San Juan Los Tres Ríos, Santa Elena Senmanzana II, Ixloc San Pedrito, Cerrito Samox.
- That the ancestral rights of Indigenous Q’eqchi communities are respected
Organizations and persons who have endorsed this Urgent Action on the assassination of Daniel Choc Pop (CCDA):
Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN), Canada
Breaking the Silence Network, Halifax, Canada
BC Central America Solidarity Alliance, Vancouver, Canada
Café Justicia BC, Vancouver, Canada
Centre Internationaliste Ryerson Fondation Aubin (CIRFA), Montreal, Quebec, Canada
Centre international de solidarité ouvrière ‘ CISO, Montreal,, Quebec, Canada
Cercle des Premières Nations de l’UQAM, Montreal, Quebec
Confédération des associations latino-américaines de Québec (CASA), Québec, Québec
Cross-Cultural Communication & Multimedia – Ottawa, Canada
Education in Action, Ottawa, Canada
Guatemala Community Network (GCN), Toronto, Ontario, Canada
GREPIP (Groupe de recherche sur les espaces publics et les innovations politiques), UQAM
Guatemala Canada Solidarity Network, Kingston, Ontario, Canada
Latin American-Canadian Solidarity Association (LACASA) London, Ontario, Canada
Mining Injustice Solidarity Network, Toronto, Canada
MiningWatch Canada, Ottawa
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala/NISGUA – Oakland CA, USA
People for Peace, London, Ontario, Canada Social Justice Connection, Montreal, Quebec
Québec Solidaire, Quebec
Service jésuite des réfugiés- Jesuit Refugee Service – Quebec, Canada
Solidarité Laurentides Amérique Centrale (SLAM), Saint-Jérôme, Québec, Canada
Todos por Guatemala, Québec – Ontario, Canada
Tzijolaj Guatemala – Canada
Waterloo Region Mayan Project, London, Ontario, Canada