Human rights group calls on Morales government to end 30-day state of siege affecting indigenous communities
American Jewish World Service (AJWS), the leading global Jewish human rights organization, strongly denounces Guatemala’s decision to impose a 30-day state of siege across 22 municipalities in five provinces in response to the killings of three Guatemalan military officers. We call on President Jimmy Morales and Guatemala’s Congress to reconsider this drastic decision.
We condemn the killing of three military officers, and we believe the Guatemalan government should fully investigate these murders. However, the state of siege will not address the cause of the killings and will, in fact, have serious repercussions on the civil liberties of all Guatemalan citizens. Much of the area under this state of siege is home to indigenous communities fighting for land rights and against destructive projects and activities, including palm oil plantations, mining and hydroelectric dams.
We believe strongly that Guatemala’s democratic principles and its vibrant civil society must be respected and protected. Along with other human rights organizations, we have worked for years to promote the respect for human rights in Guatemala. Along with the international community, we are closely observing this period as Guatemala transitions to a new president to understand how the human rights of Guatemalans are affected.
As Jews, we know all too well from our own history that the international community must stand up to defend the human rights of all people, especially vulnerable communities such as the indigenous people of Guatemala. We will vigorously continue to support our partners in Guatemala – which include human rights defenders and indigenous peoples – in their demands for the respect of their fundamental rights.
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David L. Marcus