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Guatemala: Death threats / fear for safety: Cesar Ovidio Sanchez Aguilar and his family

, Index number: AMR 34/032/1995

The above has been forced to go into hiding after receiving death threats from members of the local civil defence patrol. Members of his family have also been facing intimidation.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 34/32/95
UA 264/95 Death threats / Fear for safety 28 November 1995
GUATEMALACésar Ovidio SÁNCHEZ AGUILAR and his family
César Ovidio Sánchez Aguilar, a member of the non-governmental Myrna Mack
Foundation (Fundación Myrna Mack), has been forced to go into hiding after
receiving death threats from members of the local civil defence patrol (Patrulla
de Autodefensa Civil, PAC - civilian adjuncts to the Guatemalan army). Members
of his family have also been facing intimidation.
According to reports, César Sánchez, who works as a promotor jurídico (legal
promotor) providing information on basic legal matters, organized a workshop
on 6 and 7 November 1995 with the local indigenous communities of Tojchiquel
and Muxnan in the municipal district of Santa Bárbara, Huehuetenango province,
to look at the Accord on Identity and Rights Indigenous Peoples (Acuerdo sobre
identidad y derechos de los pueblos indígenas), agreed between the government
and the armed opposition in March 1995. The workshop was organized in
conjunction with the United Nations mission (MINUGUA) and other
non-governmental organizations (NGOs), including the indigenous organization
Coordinadora de Desarrollo y Formación Integral Mam (CODEFIM), Mam Coordinating
Committee for Development and Comprehensive Training. César Sánchez sent a
copy of the materials to be used in the workshop - information distributed
by MINUGUA, a copy of the accord itself and copies of other accords signed
between the government and the armed opposition - to the local mayor (alcalde).
César Sánchez was summoned to the mayor's office on 7 November by members of
the municipal office. He was met by two members of the mayor's office and
two members of the local civil patrol. They criticised him for working for
the Myrna Mack Foundation and accused of him being involved with the armed
opposition. On leaving the building, he was hit by an unknown individual and
threatened with death because of his work with the NGO. That same day, César
Sánchez presented a complaint to the National Police in Huehuetenango (Policía
Nacional).
On 14 November a meeting was arranged with the local mayor. It was attended
by a number of people including representatives from local NGOs, MINUGUA, César
Sánchez and his family, government representatives, military commissioners
(comisionados militares, civilian agents of the army, serving under army
command), members of the civil patrol and other people from the locality.
Before the meeting could begin, the civil patrol members reportedly hurled
insults and death threats against César Sánchez and his family. The meeting
was suspended out of fears for their safety.
César Sánchez has had to go into hiding. Members of the civil patrol have
reportedly been patrolling near César Sánchez's parent's house in an apparent
attempt to intimidate the family. A police officer has questioned César's
seven-year-old sister about her brother's whereabouts.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
The human rights situation in Guatemala continues to be very serious with
persistent reports of extrajudicial executions, "disappearances", death
threats, harassment and intimidation. Members of NGOs and popular grassroots
organizations have been long-term targets of human rights violations. Members
of the civil patrols and military commissioners, operating under the control
2
and with the acquiescence of the armed forces, who have been involved in numerous
human rights violations continue to operate with impunity despite the September
1995 announcement by the government that the military commissioners were to
be demobilised.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/faxes/express/airmail letters in
SPANISH or your own language:
- expressing concern at the threats against César Sánchez and the harassment
and intimidation of other members of his family;
- calling for an immediate investigation into these incidents and that those
responsible be brought to justice;
- asking for guarantees for the safety of César Sánchez and his family.
APPEALS TO:
1) President of the Republic:
S.E. Ramiro de León Carpio
Presidente de la República de Guatemala
Palacio Nacional, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Telegrams: Presidente de León Carpio, Guatemala, Guatemala
Faxes: + 502 2 537472
Salutation: Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente / Dear President
2) Minister of Interior:
Lic. Carlos Enrique Reynoso
Ministro de Gobernación,
Ministerio de Gobernación
Despacho Ministerial, Of. No. 8
Palacio Nacional, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Telegrams: Ministro de Gobernación, Guatemala, Guatemala
Faxes: + 502 2 537472
Salutation: Sr. Ministro / Dear Minister
3) Minister of Defence
Gral. Marco Antonio González Taracena
Ministro de Defensa
Ministerio de Defensa
Palacio Nacional, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Telegrams: Ministro de Defensa, Guatemala, Guatemala
Faxes: + 502 2 537472
Salutation: Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
COPIES TO:
Fiscal General
Lic. Ramses Cuestas Gómez
Fiscal General de la Nación
Ministerio Público
18 Calle 10-36, Zona 1
Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Human Rights Procurator
Lic. Jorge García Laguardia
Procurador de los Derechos Humanos
12 Avenida 12-72
Zona 1, Guatemala, GUATEMALA
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Human Rights Organization
Sres.
Oficina de Derechos Humanos del
Arzobispado de Guatemala (ODHAG)
Apartado Postal 723
Ciudad de 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 10 January 1996.

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