[Pnews] Nobel Women’s Initiative Calls for Guatemalan Activist Release
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri Jan 19 11:45:44 EST 2018
Nobel Women’s Initiative Calls for Guatemalan Activist Release
19 January 2018
The Nobel Peace Laureates of the Nobel Women’s Initiative called on
Guatemalan authorities Thursday to immediately release Q’eqchi’
community leader and land defender Maria Magdalena Cuc Choc, who was
arrested a day earlier without a warrant.
Maria Choc was providing translation services in a hearing for a Mayan
Q’eqchi’ community that's protecting their land. She was arrested by the
Civilian National Police as she was leaving the local tribunal in Puerto
Barrios, in the Izabal department of Guatemala.
“To be honest, I'm surprised, because I didn't have any notification and
I don't have problems with anybody,” said Choc in an interview with
Prensa Comunitaria, adding that now you can get arrested just because
“you're a good person, because you're a leader.”
Maria Choc is well known for her work defending communal lands from
mining and mega-plantations. In a press release Thursday Nobel Women’s
Initiative warned that local activists are “criminalized for exercising
their basic right to protest and organize in response to threats posed
by resource extraction to their communities.”
“The arbitrary arrest of Maria Choc is yet another reminder of the
enormous injustices faced by women land defenders in Guatemala.” Several
founders of the initiative had met with Maria Choc back in October while
on a delegation to Guatemala.
The Nobel Women’s Initiative was established in 2006 by Nobel Peace
Prize laureates Mairead Maguire, Rigoberta Menchu Tum, Jody Williams,
Shirin Ebadi, Tawakkol Karman, and Leymah Gbowee with the aim of using
“the prestige of the Nobel Peace Prize and six courageous women” to
“magnify the power and visibility of women working in countries around
the world for peace, justice and equality.”
Guatemalan Indigenous Government Denounces US Military Presence
In a addition to Nobel Women’s Initiative, several human rights
organizations have called for her release, including the communitary
television network Red Tz'ikin, the Guatemalan Human Rights Women
Defenders Network and the Rigoberta Menchu Tum Foundation, as well as
several local and international organizations and individuals.
After being dettained, Maria Choc was informed by the local prosecutor's
office that she was facing accusations for aggraviated seizure, threats
and illegal dettention, along with other community activists Luis Xol
Caal and Antonio Asp Pop.
The charges were placed by the legal representative of LISBAL company,
which is supposedly the owner of the Isabel ranch in Livingston, Izabal,
and is also asking for the removal of the whole community.
Maria and her sister Angelica have been long-time defenders of communal
Indigenous land. Angelica's husband, Adolfo Ich Chaman was assasinated
by Colonel Mynor Padilla, chief of security services for the Guatemalean
Nickel Company in 2009.
They also supported the suing of Canadian HudBay Minerals and HMI
Nickel, which demanded the evacuation of a whole Q'eqchi' community in a
violent action that resulted in the rape of eleven Mayan women in 2011.
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