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Guatemalan killed for Standing Up for Environment

    Thursday, January 18, 2018 - 17:18
    Gathering sugar cane in field

    Killed for Standing up for Environment

    Ronal David Barillas Díaz was a tireless Xinka activist whose work to defend the environment may have cost him his life. He was deeply concerned about the use and diversion of water by the sugar agro-industry and was a member of the Committee of Communities Affected by the Sugar Industry, which represents more than 70 small communities affected by the sugar cane industry in the departments of Esquintla, Jutiapa and Santa Rosa, Guatemala.

    On January 9th, he was gunned down at the stall where he sold newspapers and food. His assailants fled the scene.

    He had, on occasion worked with the Committee for the Defence of Nature (CODIDENA), which opposes the El Escobal mining project (San Rafael Mine). He had denounced the failure of the government to obtain the free, prior, informed consent of the Xinka in the permitting of this mine. He hoped to carry out a public refendum on the mine in his community of Taxisco.  

    His killing leaves his community and the organizations in which he worked in a state of greater uncertainty, fear and danger.

    Please send a letter, email, tweet or fax without delay to Guatemalan authorities:

    • Start with a sentence about yourself to make your message unique.
    • Call on Guatemala’s Prosecutor for Human Rights to ensure protection for Ronal’s family at this painful time. Call on her to ensure that the investigation into the killing of Ronal David Barillas Díaz is thorough, independent and impartial in order to identify and bring to justice both those who carried out the killing and intellectual authors behind it.
    • Ask the Prosecutor for Human Rights to establish whether Ronal David Barillas Díaz was killed as a reprisal for his work defending human rights. If so, Guatemala must publicly condemn the killings of human rights defenders, including those working to protect territory, land and the environment, and make clear that those responsible for such attacks will face justice. 
    • Tell the Public Prosecutor that you support the call made by Amnesty International and Guatemalan civil society for Guatemala to immediately adopt and publish the General Instruction of the Protocol for the Investigation Crimes against Human Rights Defenders. 

    In addition, the Guatemalan government has not yet implemented the protocol to investigate attacks against human rights defenders. 

    Please specifically ask the Attorney General to:

    •  urgently and immediately adopt comprehenstive protection measures to ensure the security and physical and psychological integrity of human rights defenders, including those working on the rights to territory and a healthy environment and on rights related to access to land. Such measures must include the adoption and implementation of the General Instruction of the Protocol for the Investigation Crimes against Human Rights Defenders and ensure adequate staffing and resources to carry out this important work. 


    Canada Post is not delivering mail to Guatemala, we will send all mail we receive to the Public Prosecutor for Human Rights and the Attorney General of Guatemala by courier. 

    Please send your message to:

    Public Prosecutor for Human Rights

    Lic. Hilda Pineda

    c/o Amnesty International

    #430-319 West Pender Street

    Vancouver, BC V6B 1T3



    Attorney General of Guatemala

    Lic. Telma Aldana Hernandez

    c/o Amnesty International

    #430-319 West Pender Street

    Vancouver, BC V6B 1T3


    Salutation: Dear General Attorney/ Sra. Fiscal General


    Please send copies to: 

    Rotman Perez, Secretaria de político criminal:

    Ana Elena Guzmán - Primera Subsecretaria General:

    Isabel Granillo – Subsecretaria de Política Criminal:


    Take your activism further!

    TAKE ACTION -  Guatemala: Stop Targeting Land Defenders

    TAKE ACTION -  Guatemala: Protect Environmental Defender Under Attack

    READ - Crisis in Guatemala: Why Hope Must Guide Us

    LEARN - Useful background information on top human rights concerns in Guatemala

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