Guatemalan Civil Society Condemns Massacre in Totonicapán

The Independent Media Center published on its Facebook page last night the statement of Civil Society regarding the homicidal repression carried out by the government of Otto Peréz Molina in Cuatro Caminos, Totonicapán, which to date has left seven dead and the hospital saturated with wounded.
The organizations listed below denounce the following:…………..

1 – On the afternoon of Thursday, October 4, the Committee of the 48 Cantons of Totonicapan, a traditional structure considered the legitimate representative of the people, suffered a violent attack by Guatemalan army forces at kilometer 170 of the Inter-American Highway.  The army was responding to a demonstration the people were carrying out to show their rejection of constitutional reform, the reform of teachers’ educational career trajectory, and the high cost of electricity.  As a result of the attack, seven people have died, at least thirty have been reported wounded, and a number of others are suffering the effects of teargas.

2 –When the attack occurred, the leaders of the 48 Cantons were in Guatemala City, waiting for President Otto Perez Molina to attend a meeting they were having with government representative Miguel Angel Balcarcel.

3 – The use of combined forces (police and army) with firearms at a citizens’ demonstration in which they were exercising universally recognized and nationally guaranteed rights is a show of violence by the state, which is showing itself incapable of acting in a way that corresponds to a democratic culture, within the framework of a lawful state.

4 – The use of soldiers and the use of firearms in evictions or to intervene in demostrations or public meetings, according to resolutions of the United Nations Committee Against Torture, constitutes torture—a fact for which the State of Guatemala has been repeatedly criticized by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.
5 – The authoritarian act and the refusal to sustain an effective dialogue to find real solutions to the population’s problems, the historical abandonment, and the demagogical discourse violates fundamental rights related to the dignity of peoples and persons.
In response to this situation, we demand:
1 – That the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office investigate the incident thoroughly and issue an immediate resolution that permits the identification of those members of the security forces responsible for human rights violations.
2 – That the Public Ministry initiate immediate criminal proceedings against those responsible for these bloody acts, as well as the arbitrary and violent actions of members of the civilian and military security forces.
3 – That the government of Guatemala provide the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office and the Public Ministry with the names of the officials in charge of the forces involved; their operational plan; and details of instructions transmitted from Guatemala City to those commanders, from the Ministry of the Interior as well as the Ministry of Defense.  Also, we demand that the government temporarily suspend the officials who by action or omission are implicated in the events.
4 – That President Otto Peréz Molina immediately demilitarize the security forces and withdraw military forces from public security functions.
5 – That Guatemalan Congress repeal decree 40-2000, which allows joint patrols and that Congress adhere to the legal character of the Peace Accords, in particular the Accord on the Strengthening of Civil Power and the Function of the Army in a Democratic Society.
6– That the National Institute of the Forensic Sciences (INACIF) conduct autopsies, expert reports on ballistic arms, and an investigation of the scene of the crime, in adherence to proper norms.
7 – That the political, legislative, and private sector authorities cease these authoritarian practices and assume the norms of true democratic rather than demagogic society.
8 – To the communities and leaders of the 48 Cantons of Totonicapán, to the families of the dead, the wounded, and those others affected by these events, we pronounce our profound solidarity and our commitment to accompany you in the search for justice for these painful events.…………..
Guatemala, 4 of October, 2012

Convergencia por los Derechos Humanos
Centro para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos -CALDH-
Centro Internacional para Investigaciones en Derechos Humanos -CIIDH-
Fundación Sobrevivientes
Instituto de Estudios Comparados en Ciencias Penales de Guatemala -ICCPG-
Oficina de Derechos Humanos del Arzobispado de Guatemala -ODHAG-
Seguridad en Democracia -SEDEM-
Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos-Guatemala -UDEFEGUA-
Asociación Familiares de Desaparecidos de Guatemala -FAMDEGUA-
Centro de Estudios de Guatemala -CEG-
Equipo Comunitario de Apoyo Psicosocial -ECAP-
Educa Guatemala
Sector Mujeres de Sociedad Civil
Unión Nacional de Mujeres de Guatemala -UNAMG-