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Guatemala: Fear for safety

, N° d'index: AMR 34/022/1998

There are serious concerns for the safety of Ricardo Sulugi, Juan León, Ovido Paz and other members of Defensoria Maya, an indiginous rights organization, after death threats were recieved by some of its members. These threats of thought to be linked to the organization's attempts to bring former military commissioners to trial for human rights violations in the 1980s.

PUBLIC AI Index: AMR 34/22/98
UA 159/98 Fear for Safety 21 May 1998
GUATEMALARicardo Sulugi, director of the Defensoria Maya regional office in
Juan León, director of Defensoria Maya
Ovido Paz, lawyer working for Defensoria Maya
and other members of Defensoria Maya
There is serious concern for the safety of members of Defensoria Maya, a Maya
indigenous rights organization working to defend indigenous and human rights
in Guatemala, after death threats were received by some of its members.
On 16 May 1998 Ovido Paz was approached by two armed men in the town of Sololá,
department of Sololá, who informed him that they intended to kill Ricardo Sulugi,
Juan León and himself: de un balazo a la cabeza”, "with a bullet to the head".
The death threats are likely to be connected to Defensoria Maya's current
attempts to bring former military commissioners (demobilized in 1996) to trial
for human rights violations they are believed to have carried out in the early
Juan León has been active in negotiations for the implementation of the Accord
on the Identity and Rights of Indigenous Peoples, one component of the peace
agreement signed between the Guatemalan Government and the Unidad
Revolucionaria Nacional Guatemalteca (URNG) Guatemalan National Revolutionary
Unity, in December 1996. An article of this Accord states that: "Mayan,
Garífuna and Xinca peoples have the right to create and direct their own
institutions, to control their own development and to fully exercise their
political rights".
Juan León also recently attended the 1998 session of the United Nations
Commission on Human Rights in Geneva, Switzerland, to lobby for continued
international scrutiny of the human rights situation in Guatemala and was a
candidate for Vice-President in Guatemala’s last elections in 1995.
The recent murder of Monseñor Juan Gerardi, a Guatemalan Auxiliary Bishop and
long-term human rights advocate, on 26 April and death threats against others
involved in the Historical Clarification Process, have led to renewed concerns
that the lives of human rights defenders in this country are at great risk.
The Historical Clarification Process aims to identify and prosecute those
responsible for massive human rights abuses perpetrated against non-combatant
civilians during Guatemala’s dirty war, mainly by the army but also by URNG,
during the late 1970s and early 1980s.
Recent events contravene the Global Human Rights Accord, signed on 23 March
1994 between the URNG and the Guatemalan Government, which states that: "The
Government of the Republic of Guatemala shall take special protection measures
in favour of persons ... working in the field of human rights. Furthermore,
it shall make timely, exhaustive investigations of complaints presented to
it regarding acts or threats which could affect them. The Government of the
Republic of Guatemala reaffirms its commitment to effectively guarantee and
protect the work of individuals and entities working in defence of human rights."
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/E-mails/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Spanish or your own language:
- urging the authorities to take immediate steps to guarantee the safety of
members of the indigenous rights organization Defensoria Maya;
- appealing for an inquiry into the intimidation and death threats of members
of Defensoria Maya on 16 May 1998 in Sololá, department of Sololá;
- urging the authorities to effectively implement their pledge as laid out
in the Global Human Rights Accord.
Note: fax tones may only be available during office hours local time. If voice
answers ask: “me puede dar tono de fax por favor”.
President of the Republic of Guatemala
S.E. Álvaro Arzú Irigoyen
Presidente de la República de Guatemala
Palacio Nacional, 6ª Calle y 7ª Avenida, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala , GUATEMALA
Telegrams: Presidente, Guatemala, Guatemala
E-mails: alvaroarzu@guateconnect.com / alvaroarzu@guate.net
Faxes + 502 221 4537/230 1502
Salutation: Excelentísimo Sr. Presidente / Dear President
Minister of Interior
Lic. Rodolfo Mendoza Rosales
Ministro de Gobernación
Ministerio de Gobernación
Despacho Ministerial, Of. Nº 8
Palacio Nacional, 6ª Calle y 7ª Avenida, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Telegrams: Ministro Governación, Guatemala, Guatemala
Faxes: + 502 251 5368
Salutation: Señor Ministro / Dear Minister
Private Secretary to the President
Sr. Gustavo Porras
Secretario Privado del Presidente de la República
Palacio Nacional, 6ª Calle y 7ª Avenida, Zona 1
Ciudad de Guatemala , GUATEMALA
Telegrams: Gustavo Porras, Guatemala, Guatemala
Salutation: Señor Secretario / Dear Secretary
Governor of Sololá
Lic. Luis Alberto Amézquita Ruiz
Gobernador de Sololá, 6ª Avenida y 10ª Calle esquina, Zona 2
Sololá, Sololá, GUATEMALA
Telefax: + 502 762 1473
Salutation: Señor Gobernador / Dear Governor
Defensoria Maya, 32 Avenida 1-56, Zona 7, Ciudad de Guatemala, Guatemala
E-mail: DefeMaya@guate.Net.
Human Rights Procurator, Lic. Julio Eduardo Arango Escobar
Procurador de los Derechos Humanos, Procaduría de los Derechos Humanos
12 Avenida 12-72, Zona 1, Ciudad de Guatemala , GUATEMALA
Faxes: + 502 238 1734 / 251 7769 / 230 0773
Diario La Hora, 9ª Calle "A" l-56, Zona l, Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
E-mails: <lahora@tikal.net.gt>
Faxes: + 502 251 7084
Diario Prensa Libre, 13 Calle 9-31, Zona l, Ciudad de Guatemala, GUATEMALA
Faxes: + 502 251 8768
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 2 July 1998.

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