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Afro-Descendant & Indigenous: News & Updates
November 22, 2020
We wrote to officials in the state government of Chiapas and the federal government of Mexico about the state-sponsored repression against indigenous Maya Tseltal campesinos who were beaten (some arrested) when they peacefully demonstrated against the construction of a National Guard station on their ejido (communal land) last month. Our letter focuses on two of the men who were beaten and unjustly detained on fabricated charges of inciting a riot. After 17 days in preventive detention, José Luis Gutiérrez and César Hernández are now released from jail but have strict conditions placed on them by the court system. We are urging authorities to immediately absolve José Luis Gutiérrez and César Hernández of the fabricated charge of rioting.
November 1, 2020
We wrote to officials in Guatemala regarding the criminalization of indigenous journalist Anastasia Mejía Tiriquiz in Quiché Department. (This is a follow-up to a letter we sent September 26, 2020). On September 22, agents from the Specialized Criminal Investigation Division (DEIC) of the National Civil Police (PNC) raided her home, from which she operates the radio station Xol Abaj. They arrested her on charges of “sedition,” “attack with specific aggravations,” “aggravated arson,” and “aggravated robbery.” Although Guatemalan law establishes that an initial hearing must take place within 24 hours after an individual is arrested, that did not happen. Anastasia Mejía Tiriquiz waited in arbitrary detention for 36 days at the Quetzaltenango Preventive Center for Women. On October 28, she was formally charged by the judge of the Criminal Court of First Instance of Santa Cruz del Quiché. A cash bail was set, and she was permitted to leave imprisonment and stay in her home “under house arrest .” We are urging that authorities in Guatemala drop all charges against Anastasia Mejía Tiriquiz.
October 25, 2020
Within 24 hours, four indigenous community leaders were assassinated in two departments. In Cauca: Avelino Ipia, Héctor David Marín, and Gustavo Herrera (a regional coordinator for Colombia Humana). In Huila: Eduardo Alarcón (in Huila). Two other leaders survived assassination attempts in two other departments. In Córdoba: Aurelio Jumí Domicó (vice-president of the indigenous reservation Quebrada Cañaveral Embera Katio del San Jorge). In Sucre: Hernando Benítez (a regional representative for the Movement for Victims of State Crimes, MOVICE). We are urging that authorities in Colombia conduct an immediate and thorough investigation into the assassinations and attempted assassinations of the victims named above, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice
October 12, 2020
A group of armed men arrived at the Garífuna community of Vallecito, whose residents have been victim to harassment, intimidation and threats over their land for many years. Attempts at forcible seizure of their territory (sometimes successful) has come from drug traffickers and African palm growers. In recent years, private investors (including many from the US and Europe) have been looking at Vallecito and other Garífuna communities on the Atlantic Coast to build their Model Cities, which was authorized under the ZEDE (Economic Development Zone) legislation passed in 2013. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has criticized the government of Honduras for not adhering to its mandates to protect Garífuna ancestral lands and adequately investigate the murders of Garífuna community leaders. As recently as May 2019, the Court acknowledged that Garífuna community members are still experiencing "direct death threats," "blackmail, increased robbery," and "profiling of leaders."
October 5, 2020
The ZEDEs (Zonas de Empleo y Desarrollo) -- also known as "model cities" -- continue stirring up controversy on the pages of the daily newspapers and on the streets of Honduras in the form of organized resistance. Edmundo Orellano is the former foreign minister and former defense minister of Honduras. In this article published in La Tribuna, he describes the ZEDEs this way: "We are handing over the territory and sovereignty, displacing the population and stripping it of its real estate, to establish small States ['model cities"] in a territory that will no longer be ours, populated by foreigners, that are like the ones that appear provoking the islanders in the video went viral on the networks, they will be, for the most part, louts."
October 5, 2020
A "model city?" According to Edmundo Orellano, the former foreign minister and former defense minister of Honduras: "We are handing over the territory and sovereignty, displacing the population and stripping it of its real estate, to establish small States ['model cities"] in a territory that will no longer be ours, populated by foreigners, that are like the ones that appear provoking the islanders in the video went viral on the networks, they will be, for the most part, louts." This article looks at local resistance on the island of Roatán to the model city (aka ZEDE, or Zona de Empleo y Desarrollo) called Próspera .
October 3, 2020
Lately, there has been an increase in insecurity across Colombia. And to add to the wound, the already wide gap of inequality continues to widen, primarily in sectors that have historically been discriminated against through policies that promote racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, and war. As part of our new campaign, #ModusOperandi, we want to explain why violence against human rights defenders is not a coincidence. More than 100 human rights defenders have been killed this year alone. These killings cannot even be counted as State negligence since the mechanisms to protect these leaders’ lives are non-existent. Instead, it is a structural dynamic aimed at privileging the interests of the most powerful at the cost of the lives of the impoverished. Join us in a liturgy for social leaders as we pray for those who are seeds* of hope and those who continue to resist the State’s violence. (*seeds: people who have been assassinated and buried as seeds and their struggle lives on)
September 30, 2020
Thank you to Tri-C’s Conflict Resolution and Peace Studies program for organizing this free online program. Consider how reparations could promote racial reconciliation, healing and justice in the United States. The discussion will be led by David Ragland, an educator and advocate for human rights and racial justice. He is the co-executive director and co-founder of the Truth Telling Project, which works to help people understand deep-seated racism. His presentation will look at how the nation must address the harms of its past in order to reach racial reconciliation and move forward. Education and discussion, he says, are key to transforming conflict into peace. Ragland will talk about what reparations might look like in the modern era. According to the United Nations, it involves five elements: restitution, rehabilitation, compensation, satisfaction and guarantees of non-repetition.
September 28, 2020
Monday, September 28 - 10am in Colombia, 11am (ET) in Washington D.C. Conversation CONVIDA20: "Colombia cries out for Life, Peace and Justice" Panelists: Diego Pérez and Omar Fernández Testimonies of Resistance Río Naya and Afavit Registrations at: bit.ly/pazcolombia20
September 27, 2020
Celebrating our 30th year as an organization, Illinois School of the Americas Watch (ILSOAW) and the SOA Watch Staff Collective invite you to join us for a virtual gathering on Sunday, September 27th at 2pm-3:30pm Eastern / 1pm-2:30pm Central / 11am-12:30pm Pacific. The afternoon event consists of music, conversation, and members of the SOA Watch Staff Collective will share more about our work to end US-led and backed state violence; dismantle Border Imperialism; and stand with communities in Latin America organizing against the militarization of their lands and lives under a neoliberal model that values profit over people and the environment. The event is bilingual (Spanish and English), and interpretation will be provided.