Project Description

ACTIVE: Webinar and photo series in solidarity with Maya Achí survivors

International community recognizes genocide and sexual violence in Rabinal

International community recognizes genocide and sexual violence in Rabinal

Interested in taking action in solidarity with Maya Achí sexual violence survivors? Hold a webinar party in English or in Spanish, and find out more ways to support below!

Guatemalan women who survived sexual violence by the military and civil defense patrols during the Internal Armed Conflict have done groundbreaking work to achieve public recognition of sexual violence as a crime against humanity. Some examples of the work to achieve justice for survivors include:

  • Genocide witness testimony documented the military’s relentless use of public sexual violence to try to destroy women’s cultural identity within their communities.
  • In 2016, the women of Sepur Zarco achieved the first sentence for conflict-era sexual violence. Two military officers were found guilty for rape, murder, and slavery after the military disappeared the husbands of Q’eqchi’ women from Sepur Zarco, then subjected them to years of sexual and domestic slavery.
  • In 2018, courts sentenced four military officers, including the ex-Joint Chief of Staff Manuel Benedicto Lucas Garcia and ex-Chief of Military Intelligence Manuel Antonio Callejas Callejas, for the disappearance of Marco Antonio Molina Theissen, as well as for crimes against humanity, including illegal detention and rape, committed against Emma Molina Theissen.
  • In the Military Zone 21 case (also know as CREOMPAZ), sexual violence survivors continue to fight to have their testimony included in the charges against eight former military officers charged for their role in massive forced disappearances and crimes against humanity.

Yet another historic case is in process: 36 Maya Achi women have fought to tell their stories of survival in the face of systematic sexual violence committed by state forces in the Rabinal region from 1982-1985. The women, some of whom were young girls or pregnant at the time, were subjected to repeated acts of sexual violence at the local military base. In 2018, following decades of organizing and investigating by the women and the Rabinal Legal Clinic, six low-ranking former military commissioners were arrested and charged with crimes against humanity, including sexual violence, torture, and illegal detention.

This week, on April 22 and 23 – nearly a year after the initial arrests – the case’s intermediary phase began. In this phase, High Risk Court “A” led by Judge Claudette Domínguez will decide whether there is enough evidence to move forward to a public trial.

Attorney Valey, representing four survivors, shares her opening arguments at the trial on April 23. Photo credit: Verdad y Justicia Guatemala

Attorney Valey, representing four survivors, shares her opening arguments at the trial on April 23. Photo credit: Verdad y Justicia Guatemala

While the case marks a significant moment in the work to bring the material authors of these crimes to justice, serious questions remain as to why higher-ranking intellectual authors remain at large. Previous trials, including the Ixil genocide trial and the Dos Erres case, have set precedents for prosecuting not only those who directly perpetrated sexual violence, but also those who created the policies that called for the systematic destruction of civilian, widely Indigenous, populations and the widespread use of sexual violence as an attack on women, their dignity, and their entire communities and cultures. These Maya Achi women continue to push for the prosecution of those who engineered the crimes they survived.

To learn more about the case, please check out these blogs by Breaking the Silence Network (BTS):

[español abajo] Take Action in Solidarity with the Maya Achi Women’s Fight for Justice 

NISGUA and BTS are jointly organizing the webinars, “In Our Own Skin:” Maya Achi Women’s Fight for Justice.

On both May 8 and 9, Paulina Alvarado (survivor and witness in the case) and Gloria Pérez (lawyer with the Rabinal Legal Clinic, and upcoming BTS tour speaker) will speak about their work towards justice. On May 8, the webinar will be held in Spanish. The May 9 webinar will feature interpretation to English. The webinars will take place at 3PM Pacific/6PM Eastern. For a one-page organizer sheet, click here.

Register for the May 9 webinar in English here: bit.ly/MayaAchiStruggleforJustice

  • Host a webinar party: Share this blog with friends and comrades, then invite them over to learn more from some of the women most involved with the case.
  • Show your support for the women: Take a selfie with the message, “Si hubo genocidio y violencia sexual en Rabinal,” or “Justice for Achi Women,” or with a message of your own. Share it by email to martha@nisgua.org to make sure that the women see the worldwide support and solidarity with their work for justice.
  • Fundraise: At your webinar party and in the coming weeks, ask friends to support NISGUA’s accompaniment of sexual violence survivors.

Have more ideas? Want help getting started? Reach out to Guatemala Accompaniment Project (GAP) Coordinator Martha Schmitz at martha@nisgua.org to learn more today!

Canadian activist takes action to call for Justice for Achí Women. Photo Credit: Breaking the Silence Network

A Canadian activist takes action to call for Justice for Achi Women. / Unx activista canadiense toma acción para exigir Justicia para las Mujeres Maya Achi. Photo credit: Breaking the Silence Network

Toma Acción en Solidaridad con la Lucha por Justicia de las Mujeres Maya Achi

NISGUA y BTS están organizando en conjunto los webinars, “En Nuestra Propia Piel”: La Lucha por Justicia de las Mujeres Maya Achi.

Los días 8 y 9 de mayo, Paulina Alvarado (sobreviviente y testiga del caso) y Gloria Pérez (abogada del Bufete Jurídico Popular de Rabinal y ponente en la próxima gira de BTS) presentará sobre su labor por justicia. El 8 de mayo, el webinar se presentará en español. El webinar del 9 de mayo tendrá interpretación al inglés. Los webinars de ambos días se llevarán a cabo el 3PM hora pacífico / 6PM hora del este.

Se puede registrar para el webinar en español del 8 de mayo aquí: bit.ly/LuchaPorJusticiaMayaAchi

  • Organiza una presentación del webinar: Comparte este artículo con amigxs y compañerxs. Luego, invítalxs a aprender más de unas de las mujeres más involucradas en el caso.
  • Demuestra tu apoyo para las mujeres: Saca una foto de ti mismx con el mensaje, “Si hubo genocidio y violencia sexual en Rabinal,” o “Justicia para Mujeres Achi,” o con un mensaje propio. Compártela por correo a martha@nisgua.org para que las mujeres vean el apoyo y solidaridad mundial a favor de su lucha por justicia.
  • Recauda fondos: A tu presentación del webinar y en las próximas semanas, invita tus amigxs a donar al acompañamiento a las sobrevivientes de violencia sexual que realiza NISGUA.

Tienes otras ideas? Necesitas apoyo para arrancar? Ponte en contacto con la Coordinadora del Proyecto de Acompañamiento en Guatemala Martha Schmitz a martha@nisgua.org para aprender más!