Dear Rochester Committee on Latin America,

Over the last few months, indigenous activists in northern Huehuetenango have experienced a series of threats, criminalization and attacks for their defense of indigenous rights and their opposition to hydroelectric dams and other large-scale projects planned for the region. In fact, since January 2015, two people have been killed.

Sign our petition to call for an immediate investigation into the recent killings of indigenous and land rights activists

On January 19, 2015, the Snuq Jolom Konob community radio station in Santa Eulalia, which had reported on plans for hydroelectric projects as well as corruption of local officials, was shut down by municipal authorities and two people were detained. In the early hours of January 20, after community members tried to secure the release of the men, the mayor of Santa Eulalia became involved in a violent encounter and allegedly shot three people. Pascual Basilio Pascual Diego, age 20, was one of the victims and died soon after due to his injuries.

Now, more than two months later, Pascual’s death has not been duly investigated and no one has been held accountable.

Sign a petition now to the Guatemalan Attorney General calling for a full and impartial investigation.

The situation worsened when police arrested Rigoberto Juarez and Domingo Baltazar, Q’anjob’al leaders from Santa Eulalia, on March 24. They were first charged with acts allegedly committed in 2013, released under house arrest and then immediately re-arrested on a separate arrest warrant relating to the events in January 2015. National and international groups have expressed concern about safety and wellbeing of the two men and their access to fair trial in a context of criminalization against community leaders.

North of Santa Eulalia, in Santa Cruz Barillas, there has also been organized opposition to a proposed hydroelectric dam. On February 26, three community leaders were detained when they presented themselves for a public hearing. The men have been involved in the opposition movement to the hydroelectric projects Qanbalam I and II, and currently remain in jail without a trial date.

Then, on March 24 — the very same day Rigoberto and Domingo were detained — another activist from Barillas went missing. After an exhaustive three-day search by community members, Pascual Pablo Francisco was found dead.

Add your voice to our petition, calling on the Guatemalan Attorney General to ensure these deaths do not remain in impunity.

The Guatemalan government has a responsibility to guarantee the safety of community members participating in the legitimate defense of their rights. Yet for indigenous communities in Huehuetenango, there has been a wave of repression against community leaders – particularly against those resisting large-scale projects in Santa Cruz Barillas, Santa Eulalia, and San Mateo Ixtatan.

GHRC has monitored the region closely since May of 2012, when an attack against community activists in Barillas left one dead and two injured. The Guatemalan government declared martial law and sent 11 people to jail for almost a year before they were released based on the absence of evidence against them.

This week, GHRC communicated with Guatemalan authorities, urging them to ensure the well-being of those arrested in Santa Cruz Barillas and Santa Eulalia in accordance to the UN Principles on Detention and Imprisonment.

Now, we are calling on the Attorney General to ensure prompt, independent, and impartial investigations into the murders of both Mr. Pascual Pablo Francisco and Mr. Basilio Pascual. We also call on the Public Prosecutor’s Office to ensure a fair trial for those detained. Please help us gather as many signatures as possible to present to the Attorney General’s office next week.

In solidarity,

Kelsey Alford-Jones, GHRC/USA

3321 12th Street NE, Washington, DC 20017