Solidarity Update: February 2017

Photo: Holly Sheenan. 

News recap: Celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Sepur Zarco verdict; Civil suit continues against the Ministry of Energy and Mines, in an attempt to cancel Las Lajitas license; Hundreds respond to calls for urgent action on the murder of environmental defender Sebastián Alonso Juan; Protect sacred sites: Respond to calls for action for West Berkeley Shellmound; Annual solidarity dinner centers resistance and resilience in the time of Trump.

This and more in this month’s Solidarity Update.

*|MC:SUBJECT|*
Solidarity Update: February 16, 2017
View this email in your browser

Justice & Accountability

  • Celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Sepur Zarco verdict

Defense of Life & Territory

  • Winning their appeal, Guatemalans will take Tahoe Resources to court in Canada
  • Civil suit continues against the Ministry of Energy and Mines, in an attempt to cancel Las Lajitas license
  • Hundreds respond to calls for urgent action on the murder of environmental defender Sebastián Alonso Juan

News from the Grassroots

  • Protect sacred sites: Respond to calls for action for West Berkeley Shellmound
  • Annual solidarity dinner centers resistance and resilience in the time of Trump
  • Join us in Guatemala this April

"When I became strong enough to be able to say what I had to say, I told the whole truth. That was what gave me strength. The moment came that we had been waiting for, for so long – to see justice."  -- Rosa Tiul, survivor and witness from Sepur Zarco

Photo Credit: Plaza Pública

JUSTICE & ACCOUNTABILITY

Celebrating the one-year anniversary of the Sepur Zarco verdict


Nearly one year after the verdict that convicted former members of the Guatemalan military of sexual violence and sexual and domestic slavery committed during the armed conflict, we continue to celebrate the voices of the brave Q’eqchi’ survivors from Sepur Zarco who, at great personal risk, came forward to testify.
 
This anniversary marks a historic moment not only in Guatemala, but globally. The verdict, delivered on February 26, 2016, was the first time in the Americas that sexual slavery was successfully prosecuted as a crime against humanity in a national court and one of the few times in the world. This was also the first transitional justice case in Guatemala that firmly focused on state-sanctioned violence experienced by women during the internal armed conflict, and has opened up the possibility that more cases of this kind will go forward.
 
Last October, community psychologist Maudi Tzay toured the United States with NISGUA to share about the survivors’ journey towards justice and healing. Their fight continues as they pressure the state to implement reparatory measures ordered by the verdict and hold the Guatemalan government accountable for the long-term impacts of violence. Read NISGUA’s report on the Sepur Zarco trial.
Plaintiff Luis Fernando García (right) poses with other members of JODVID - Youth Organized in Defense of Life. For an extended interview with JODVID's founders, read Amnesty International's blog.
Photo: Amnesty International

DEFENSE OF LIFE & TERRITORY

Winning their appeal, Guatemalans will take Tahoe Resources to court in Canada


The British Columbia Court of Appeals ruled on January 28 that Vancouver is the preferred forum to hear the civil suit against Tahoe Resources concerning violence outside its Escobal mine in Guatemala. Seven Guatemalan plaintiffs are currently suing the Canadian-American mining company for negligence and battery after they where shot by company private security in 2013 during a peaceful protest outside the mine. A lower court had initially accepted Tahoe’s claim that Guatemala would be the most appropriate forum to pursue justice, but winning the appeal allows the plaintiffs to take Tahoe to court in Canada.
 
Plaintiff Luis Fernando García said, "We are very happy to have the opportunity to pursue justice in Canada, something we cannot do successfully in a Guatemalan court. In the face of corruption and repression by Guatemala's government, including a campaign to bring false criminal charges against protesters in our community, there is no guarantee of accountability here." We celebrate the decision as one more step on the path to justice for the plaintiffs and as a necessary step in holding transnational extractive companies – particularly Tahoe Resources – accountable for human rights violations committed abroad.

Civil suit continues against the Ministry of Energy and Mines, in attempt to suspend Las Lajitas license


On January 24, residents from the municipalities of Casillas and San Rafael las Flores attended a hearing in a civil suit against the Ministry of Energy and Mines that seeks the cancellation of Las Lajitas exploration license, located in their territory just south of Tahoe Resources’ Escobal mine. Communities are concerned that if built, the mining project will negatively impact their water supply and violate their right to water and a healthy environment. Bernabé Rivas, representing residents from Casillas, told the judges that their concerns are based in reality, having seen firsthand the impacts the Escobal mine has had in polluting and drying out community water supplies.
 
Other attempts made to appeal to the company have been met with silence. In July, 2016, community representatives got no response when they wrote to the president of Gunpoint Exploration, a Canadian company believed to hold the license, to ask why they are investing in an area that is so adamantly against mining; the results of the 2011 municipal referendum are clear - 98.6% of participants voted against metal mining in their territory. Nevertheless, Las Lajitas license was granted without their knowledge nor consent. For more on the license, read NISGUA’s blog.

Hundreds respond to calls for urgent action following the murder of environmental defender Sebastián Alonso Juan


More than 600 people called on the Guatemala Attorney General’s office to investigate the murder of Sebastián Alonso Juan, an elderly community activist shot and killed last month in the Ixquisis region of Huehuetenango. On January 17, 2017, Juan was attending a peaceful protest against the construction of a series of hydroelectric dams. According to witness reports, members of the National Civil Police, private security for the company Hydroelectric Promotion and Development LLC, and privately-contracted forest rangers all opened fire on the protestors. While it remains unclear which security force killed him, there was no intervention on the part of state forces to get him the medical care he urgently needed.

Last year, NISGUA joined a caravan to the area to take testimonies and document human rights abuses in the region as a result of the imposition of the hydroelectric projects. 

We are grateful to members of our base who took immediate action and continue to call on the Attorney General’s office and the Human Rights Ombudsman to fully investigate Juan’s murder.
NISGUA joins other activists in an action to protect Chechenyo Ohlone sacred sites under East Bay Regional Park jurisdiction.

Photo: Holly Sheehan

NEWS FROM THE GRASSROOTS

Protect sacred sites: Respond to calls for action for West Berkeley Shellmound


NISGUA is committed to taking leadership from and acting in solidarity with indigenous peoples in Guatemala and globally. With our U.S. office based in Oakland, CA, we are also committed to taking local action alongside the Chechenyo Ohlone peoples upon whose lands we are guests.
 
A 5,000-year-old Ohlone Shellmound and Village Sacred Site is threatened by a development project in Berkeley, CA, which is currently in the phase of seeking approval for their Draft Environmental Impact Report (DEIR). Local indigenous leaders are requesting that concerned people everywhere stand up to protect this ancient site of global significance by speaking out against the DEIR.
 
Please add your voice by downloading and signing a sample letter, then emailing your letter to the Berkeley Zoning Board at ShAllen@ci.berkeley.ca.us.

Annual solidarity dinner centers resistance and resilience in the time of Trump


On January 30, members of our Bay Area network gathered at Plátano Restaurant in Berkeley, CA for NISGUA’s 9th annual solidarity dinner, co-organized by the Guatemala News and Information Bureau. This year, speakers Paula Worby (Hesperian Foundation) and Sara Campos (New American Story Project) helped us draw connections between NISGUA’s work for human rights and social justice in Guatemala and the threats faced by Central American migrants and refugees on their way to and in the U.S. On the heels of Trump’s January executive order banning travelers from seven Muslim-majority nations entry into the U.S., the gathering was an important opportunity to be in community together, heartened and emboldened by our shared political vision.
 
As the Trump administration moves to bolster the power of police and border control agents to attack immigrants and refugees, we stand firm in our commitment to the struggles of Guatemalan communities fighting to create alternatives to displacement.
Join us in Guatemala this April 22-29 on our delegation, “Women and the Work of Liberation,” and strengthen your capacity for organizing across borders! Apply here or visit our website for more information
 
Photo: Women walk in the 2015 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women in Guatemala City. Credit: CPR Urbana
NISGUA turned 35! Help us celebrate by becoming a sustaining donor. 
At the center of each of our Solidarity Updates are people facing real risks for speaking out against impunity, state and corporate violence, and working towards justice. We provide international accompaniment and/or advocacy support to all of the organizations and individuals that we write about, as one attempt to dissuade further attacks human rights defenders face for speaking out.

Make a donation to NISGUA today to help answer the calls of our partners for ongoing accompaniment support and much needed advocacy on the long road to justice.
Copyright © *|CURRENT_YEAR|* *|LIST:COMPANY|*, All rights reserved.
*|IFNOT:ARCHIVE_PAGE|* *|LIST:DESCRIPTION|*

Our mailing address is:
*|HTML:LIST_ADDRESS_HTML|* *|END:IF|*

Want to change how you receive these emails?
You can update your preferences or unsubscribe from this list

*|IF:REWARDS|* *|HTML:REWARDS|* *|END:IF|*
2017-11-25T19:35:54+00:00February 15th, 2017|Solidarity Update|

Leave A Comment