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Guatemala: Fear for safety: Alberto Godinez

, رقم الوثيقة: AMR 34/020/1997

Amnesty International is concerned at reports of an axe attack on Alberto Godinez, a former member of the Guatemala National Revolutionary Unity (URNG) and local leader of the Committee of Peasant Unity, by former members of the now disbanded Voluntary Civil Defence Committees. The attack occurred at 1am on 11 May 1997 when the men forced him out of his home in the hamlet of El Chorro, near Colotenango, department of Huehuetenango, and beat him with an axe and with sticks. There remains serious concern for his safety, as the night before the attack he had been threatened with death, and three of his assailants are still at large.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 34/20/97
UA 143/97 Fear for safety 15 May 1997
GUATEMALAAlberto Godínez, former member of the Guatemala National Revolutionary
Unity (URNG, Unidad Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca)
and local leader of the Committee of Peasant Unity (CUC,
Comité de Unidad Campesina)
At 1am on 11 May 1997 six former members of the now disbanded Voluntary Civil
Defence Committees (CVDC, Comités Voluntarios de Defensa Civil) forced Alberto
Godínez out of his home in the hamlet of El Chorro near Colotenango, department
of Huehuetenango. Three blocks from his home they hit him with an axe and beat
him with sticks. He managed to avoid the first blow from the axe, but the
second landed on his hand.
Alberto Godínez’ son, Rudy García, ran after the men, as did various neighbours
who managed to catch hold of three of them. Rudy García and at least one of
his neighbours were injured in the process. Alberto Godínez was taken to the
General Hospital in Huehuetenango to undergo an emergency operation to repair
damage to tendons in his left hand.
Following the attack, the six men fled towards the village of Xemal where three
of them were arrested by the police. The other three are still at large. Amnesty
International remains seriously concerned for the safety of Alberto Godínez.
The day before the attack, he had been threatened with death at a party.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The CVDCs, some 300,000 armed men under the control of the army, were set up
in the 1980s, and together with the military commissioners, were responsible
for innumerable human rights violations. The disbanding of the CVDCs began
in August 1996 and was expected to have been completed by the end of that year.
In September 1996, under Decree Law 390-96, President Álvaro Arzú awarded medals
to a number of CVDCs, including some in Huehuetenango, for “having distinguished
themselves in an exceptional way, since in one way or another they have offered
their valuable, timely and selfless collaboration with the armed forces, showing
with their bravery their unconditional support, high degree of friendship and
loyalty for the Fatherland ...” (“haberse distinguido de manera excepcional,
puesto que de una u otra forma han brindado su valiosa, oportuna y desinteresada
colaboración a la Institucion Armada, demostrando con sus actos de valor su
apoyo incondicional, alto grado de amistad y lealtad por la Patria ...”).
In a demobilization ceremony in October 1996 in Fray Bartolomé de las Casas,
department of Alta Verapaz, the commander of Military Zone 21 stated that “the
high command, in particular our commander-in-chief, Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen, would
like to thank you for your participation in the struggle to defend national
sovereignty and in this case the physical integrity of the population”. In
response to this speech, the CVDC commander stated that “if circumstances so
require, we will always be ready to serve the army again” Human Rights
Procurator, Jorge García Laguardia, stated that the demobilization had “turned
into a string of tributes” and represented “a reward for violence”.
However positive the disbanding of the military commissioners and
the Voluntary Civil Defence Committees is - to the extent that
it eliminates from State structures the army auxiliary bodies
2
responsible for serious human rights violations - it is nonetheless
of concern that former military commissioners and CVDC members
continue to commit serious human rights violations with the
guaranteed protection of the army. Nor has demobilization resulted
in investigations into human rights violations. The majority of
human rights violations committed by the CVDC and military
commissioners in the past have gone unpunished.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Spanish or your own language:
- expressing serious concern at the attack on Alberto Godínez, his son and
at least one of his neighbours;
- calling for immediate and adequate measures to ensure the safety of Alberto
Godínez;
- calling for an immediate and thorough investigation into the attack and urging
that those responsible be brought to justice.
APPEALS TO:
1) President of the Republic
S.E. Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen
Presidente de la República de Guatemala
Palacio Nacional,
6ª Calle y 7ª Avenida, Zona 1
Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: +502 221 4537
Telegrams: Presidente, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Salutation:Sr. Presidente /Dear President
2)Attorney General
Lic. Héctor Hugo Pérez Aguilera
Fiscal General de la Nación, Ministerio Público
18 Calle 10-36, Zona 1
Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Telefax: +502 331 7066
Telegrams: Fiscal General, Guatemala, Guatemala
Salutation: Sr. Fiscal General / Dear Attorney General
3) Minister of Defence:
Gral. Julio Arnoldo Balconi Turcios
Ministro de Defensa
Ministerio de Defensa
Palacio Nacional
6ª Calle y 7ª Avenida, Zona 1
Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: +502 332 5118 (if voice, ask "me puede dar tono de fax, por favor")
Telegrams: Ministro de Defensa, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Salutation: Sr. Ministro / Dear Minister
4) Huehuetenango District Attorney
Lic. Sergio Federico Morales
Fiscal Distrital de Huehuetenango
Ministerio Publico
5a Avenida “A” 255-31
Colonia “El Centro”, Zona 1
3
Huehuetenango, Huehuetenango, GUATEMALA
Telegrams: Fiscal Distrital, Huehuetenango, Guatemala
Salutation: Senor Fiscal Distrital
COPIES TO:
Human Rights Procurator
Lic. Jorge García Laguardia
Procurador de los Derechos Humanos
12 Avenida 12-72, Zona 1, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Fax: +502 238 1734
COPREDEH
Licda. Marta Altolaguirre
Sra. Presidenta de la Comisión Presidencial
Coordinadora de la Política del Ejecutivo en Materia
de Derechos Humanos
15 Avenida 18-38, Zona 13
Guatemala , GUATEMALA
Fax: +502 334 1615/334 1407
CUC
Comité de Unidad Campesina
Apartado Postal 1002-01901
Correo Central
Guatemala, GUATEMALA
and to diplomatic representatives of Guatemala accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 3 July 1997.

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