EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 34/29/91
UA 229/91 Possible Extrajudicial Execution 4 July 1991
GUATEMALA: Celistino JULAJ VICENTE (aged 21)
Amnesty International is concerned at what appears to be the extrajudicial
execution of 21-year-old Celestino Julaj Vicente on 28 June 1991, in San Pedro
Jocopilas, El Quiché department. Celestino Julaj was a member of Consejo de
Comunidades Étnicas "Runujel Junam" (CERJ), Council of Ethnic Communities "We
are all Equal".
On 28 June 1991 Celestino Julaj, together with his wife and child went
from his home in the cantón (hamlet) of Chuitzalic, in the municipality of
San Pedro Jocopilas, to a one-day festival in the town of San Pedro Jocopilas.
During the festival the family were reportedly followed by three members of
the Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil (PAC), Civil Defence Patrols from Xoljuyub,
a hamlet of San Pedro Jocopilas municipality. As Celestino Julaj and his wife
and child were walking home from the festival, an unidentified man dressed
in olive green grabbed Celestino Julaj and threw him to the ground. The man
drew out a gun and shot Celestino Julaj four times in front of his wife and
child, and fled the scene. He was shot once in the face and three times in
the lower back; the coroner later retrieved a .38 calibre bullet from his body.
A .38 fire-arm is a standard issue army pistol.
On 15 May 1991 civil patrol chiefs from the whole municipality of San
Pedro Jocopilas reportedly attended a meeting in which they declared that they
would assassinate any CERJ members attending the forthcoming local festival.
It was against the advice of friends and relatives that Celestino Julaj
attended the festival.
CERJ was formed in July 1988 to protect indigenous people's rights. It has
been particularly active in protesting at peasants being forced to join the
ostensibly voluntary Patrullas de Autodefensa Civil (PAC), Civil Defence
Patrols. Article 34 of the Guatemalan Constitution, which recognizes the right
to freedom of association, states that no-one may be forced to serve on self
defence groups. Since 1988 Celestino Julaj and others in his community stopped
participating in the PAC. Celestino Julaj joined CERJ in 1988 and was one
of four CERJ delegates in his community. Almost immediately after they decided
to stop participating in the PAC, they began receiving death threats from the
PAC chief, who told them that the army would be called to kill them. In October
1988 several members of the armed forces came to Chuitzalic to try and force
the new CERJ members to resume their patrolling, but were prevented by the
presence of the Procurador Auxiliar de los Derechos Humanos (Auxiliary Human
Rights Procurator) for El Quiché, and members of the National Police who had
come to the community at the request of the threatened CERJ members. After
this incident the CERJ members continued to receive death threats. On 10 April
1990 José (accent on e) Vicente García (accent on i), a cousin of Celestino
Julaj and a member of CERJ, was killed in the municipality of San Pedro Jocopilas.