International Human Rights Volunteer(s) Needed in Guatemala
The Highland’s Committee of Peasant Farmers (CCDA), a campesino organization with more than 30 years of experience working for land rights in Guatemala, is immediately seeking an international volunteer(s) to support indigenous Q’eqchi communities facing land conflicts in the municipality of Coban, Alta Verapaz. With increased recent threats, including the murder of Daniel Choc Pop on June 8, the CCDA is requesting the support of a volunteer (or volunteers) who can be present in their Coban office and accompany the processes for justice in Daniel’s case and the resolution of the land conflicts in these communities.
The international volunteer will:
Be based in Coban, Alta Verapaz and work to support and accompany CCDA staff from the region as well as Q’eqchi communities in process of acquiring land titles. This includes observation of meetings with government officials, community/field visits, attending press conferences, etc.
Help coordinate international solidarity actions to support these cases
Intermediate-high level of Spanish
Maturity and ability to work alone without a lot of support
Strong capacity in security analysis and decision making
Knowledge and understanding of Guatemalan context – previous experience in Guatemala or Latin America, with the CCDA, working with communities facing land conflicts, etc. preferred
Minimum commitment of 3 weeks
For more information, contact Breaking the Silence.
More information about the communities currently facing land conflicts and the murder of Daniel Choc Pop.
Urgent Action: Daniel Choc Pop (Guatemala)
Background: On Wednesday, June 8, Daniel Choc Pop, indigenous Q’eqchi leader, peasant farmer and member of the Highland’s Committee of Peasant Farmers – CCDA, was murdered in San Juan Los Tres Ríos, Alta Verapaz, Guatemala. Daniel had represented his community in meetings with State institutions responsible for resolving land conflicts, including the Secretary for Agrarian Affairs of the President (SAA), the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock and Food (MAGA), the Land Fund (Fontierras) and the National System for Dialogue since 2012 when his community began to seek legal title for the land (tierra baldia) on which they are living.
Daniel was a regional representative of the CCDA and not only represented his community of San Juan Los Tres Ríos, but also a number of other communities in the region that are at risk of forced evictions, death threats, intimidations and criminalization. Just weeks before Daniel’s murder, community members had denounced threats they had received to the Public Prosecutor’s (MP) Office and the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office (PDH) in Coban, Alta Verapaz. Eighty-two members of the CCDA, who are working on resolving land conflicts and recuperation of lands due to ancestral rights, have warrants out for their arrest. This is a form of intimidation and repression of community rights to organize and defend their territory.
As a community leader and member of the CCDA, Daniel had received political training by the UN High Commission for Human Rights in strategic litigation for emblematic cases, had participated in the 2012 Indigenous, Peasant and Popular March and the recent Water March in April 2016. In 2015, Daniel was one of the key organizers of the “Q’eqchi Community,” when more than 400 Q’eqchi families set up outside the Presidential House in zone 1 as a form of peaceful resistance with hopes to resolve the land crisis they face.
According to witnesses, Daniel was surrounded by security guards from finca Rancho Alegre before being shot and killed on the afternoon of June 8. Less than 24 hours later, the Public Prosecutor’s Office, the Governor of Alta Verapaz, the Land Fund, the Presidential Commission for Human Rights – COPREDEH, and the Secretary for Agrarian Affairs held a press conference where they claimed that Daniel’s murder was an isolated event, not related to the land conflict, but rather of a personal matter. Daniel’s family, his community and the CCDA have roundly rejected this theory. Daniel’s long trajectory and formation as a community leader working to resolve land conflicts in the region of Alta Verapaz must be considered while this case is investigated.
San Juan Los Tres Ríos is just one of the communities in the region in urgent need to resolve the land conflict, which has left community members, like Daniel, in great risk. The Government of Guatemala, through accords and agreements signed in the past, including Governmental Accord 181-2015, has the responsibility to promptly resolve the land conflicts in Alta Verapaz while ensuring the security and the protection of human rights of indigenous Q’eqchi communities.
Please press the authorities to:
Conduct a full and impartial investigation into the murder of Daniel Choc Pop that established the material and intellectual authors of the murder.
Immediate security for the family of Daniel and the community of San Juan Los Tres Ríos
Immediate and just compensation for the partner and two children of Daniel Choc Pop to prevent further human rights violations,
That the Agrarian Institutions of the State take action in cases that are prioritized by the CCDA This includes immediate action in implementing Governmental Accord 181-2015, which would lead to a resolution to the cases of San Juan Los Tres Ríos, Santa Elena Senmanzana II, Ixloc San Pedrito, Cerrito Samox.
That the ancestral rights of Indigenous Q’eqchi communities are respected
Address your letter to:
Jimmy Morales Cabrera, President of the Republic of Guatemala
Thelma Aldana, Attorney General and Head of the Public Prosecutor’s Office
Carlos Moran, Secretary for Agrarian Affairs – SAA
Mario Estuardo Mendez Cobar, Minister of Agriculture, Livestock and Food – MAGA
Francisco Rivas Lara, Minister of the Interior General Manager,
Axel López, Fontierras
Jorge de Leon Duque, Human Rights Ombudsman- PDH
Presidential Commission for the Coordination of the Executive Comisión Presidencial Coordinadora de la Política del Ejecutivo en materia de Derechos Humanos -COPREDEH