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Guatemala: Attempted killing of human rights defender Ms Telma Yolanda Oquelí Veliz del Cid
On 13 June 2012, human rights defender Ms Telma Yolanda Oquelí Veliz del Cid was shot as she travelled home from a peaceful protest.
Yolanda Oquelí is the leader of the Frente Norte del Área Metropolitana – FRENAM (Northern Front of the Metropolitan Area), a movement of community members who defend the land from the expansion of mining activities in San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc, in the Department of Guatemala.
On 13 June 2012, at approximately 6:30pm, Yolanda Oquelí was driving away from a peaceful protest site in the village of La Puya towards San José El Golfo when she was confronted on the road by two men on a motorcycle. One of the men took out a gun and pointed it at Yolanda Oquelí, before she stopped her car, got out and threw herself to the ground. The men fired four shots, three hit the vehicle and one hit the human rights defender on the right-hand side of her body. The bullet lodged behind her liver. She managed to make telephone contact with someone who was able to find her and bring her to the hospital. She is currently in hospital receiving medical attention for her wound.
Local communities have been protesting at El Tambor mining site since March 2012 in order to raise their concerns over the negative environmental impact of the mining activities being conducted by Exploraciones Mineras de Guatemala, S.A. (EXMIGUA). Yolanda Oquelí has filed complaints with the Public Prosecutor’s Office relating to death threats she has received over the last number of months from workers at the mine, EXMIGUA officials and members of the Comisión Presidencial de Derechos Humanos – COPREDEH (Presidential Human Rights Commission).
Front Line Defenders believes that the attempted killing of human rights defender Yolanda Oquelí is directly related to her legitimate and peaceful work in defence of human rights, and is gravely concerned for her physical and psychological integrity and that of other human rights defenders working within FRENAM and who oppose the expansion of mining activities in San José del Golfo and San Pedro Ayampuc, in the Department of Guatemala.