FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 18, 2013
Courtney Martinez, (510) 868-0612, firstname.lastname@example.org
Phil Neff, (206) 434-2475, email@example.com
Nearly twelve years have passed since the Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR), founded by survivors of Guatemala’s internal armed conflict, first filed suit against General Efraín Ríos Montt and members of his military high command in 2001. As a result of years of in-depth investigation, Ríos Montt and his former intelligence chief, General José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez, will be tried for genocide and crimes against humanity on March 19, 2013.
In the words of a member of the Association for Justice and Reconciliation the trial “is not just a victory for the survivors, but for everyone around the world who supports the search for justice, truth and memory here in Guatemala.”
After a year of legal delays, Guatemalan Judge Miguel Ángel Gálvez ruled on January 28, 2013 that Ríos Montt would be put on trial for genocide in national courts. AJR President Benjamin Jerónimo commented, “Despite all the injunctions that the defense lawyers have filed, they haven’t been able to stop the process, although it has taken a long time. Slowly but surely we have moved forward. As the AJR, we have completed an important step towards our goal. We await a favorable sentence.”
In the oral arguments beginning March 19, 2013, José Efraín Ríos Montt and José Mauricio Rodríguez Sánchez will be accused of killing 1,771 Maya Ixil men, women and children, and ordering 15 massacres against the Maya Ixil people.
This is the first case in the Americas to try a former head of state for genocide in the country in which it took place. The cases will be heard in Guatemala’s courts, strengthening the national justice system. The Association for Justice and Reconciliation (AJR) and the Center for Human Rights Legal Action (CALDH) are the primary plaintiffs in the case, alongside public prosecutors with the Attorney General’s office.
NISGUA has provided international human rights accompaniment to the AJR and CALDH since 2000. “Through the Guatemalan Accompaniment Project (GAP), volunteers are trained as human rights observers, living and traveling alongside participants in the genocide cases as a form of non-violent protection and support,” explains GAP Director Bridget Brehen.
Julia Cortez, former President of the AJR, reflected on the advance of the cases, “I am thinking about all of the people who have given their testimony, who spoke out and did not hide their truth. We will continue fighting against the genocide committed against the indigenous Maya people. We want justice.”
The trial opens amidst a fresh wave of attacks against social movement activists in Guatemala.
NISGUA’s Communications Coordinator, Courtney Martinez, states, “We are particularly interested in assuring international attention to this case. NISGUA recognizes the US’s historic role in supporting the Guatemalan genocide and we hope this case sets a precedent that all people deserve equality before the law.”
Network in Solidarity with the People of Guatemala / NISGUA
PO Box 70494 – Oakland, CA 94612 – tel 510-763-1403 – www.nisgua.org – firstname.lastname@example.org – @NISGUA_Guate
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