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Upsurge of violence against human rights organizations in Guatemala
On 20 May 2007 intruders broke into the office of ActionAid in Zone 13 of Guatemala City and stole computer hard-drives containing files on ActionAids work in Guatemala. No other items of value were taken. ActionAid is the fifth member of the International Forum of NGOs to be attacked in the last month.Front Line is deeply concerned over this recent upsurge in attacks against human rights organizations in Guatemala and in particular a series of violent attacks against the Consejería en Proyectos , Project Counselling Service (PCS) and its staff members.
On 17 May 2007, a staff member of PCS received a threatening telephone call at his home. The caller said: "Son of a b…, it wasn't enough… We told you not to do anything. You don't understand. We are going to kill your ass and all the superficial whores in your office. We know who they are and what they do. Don't screw up, and leave things as they are".
The call came ten days after an incident on 7 May 2007 when two armed men robbed a vehicle belonging to the PCS and also some money. The same staff member of the PCS that received the telephone call was in the car during the robbery and was temporarily detained by the two men who proceeded to abuse him, verbally, physically and sexually. The attack occurred during an international seminar on sexual violence, Sharing Collective Memory: Psychosocial Attachment and Integral Justice for Women Victims of Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict, that was organized by the PCS.
The PCS is an international organization dedicated to challenging impunity and the search for justice for human rights violations carried out during the conflict and post-conflict periods in Latin America.
On 14 November 2006, Front Line Guatemala Attacks Against Human Rights Defenders 2000-2005 was launched in Guatemala City. The report was researched and written by Claudia Samayoa of the National Movement for Human Rights.
The report outlines the upsurge in attacks on human rights defenders over the past five years, including a dramatic increase in attacks against defenders of economic, social and cultural rights. The report also demonstrates that the increase in the number of attacks shows evidence of planning, indicating that this is an organised assault on the right to defend human rights.
(24 May 2007)