In mid-September, two Guatemalan human rights defenders received threats - not only against themselves, but also against their children. Both are tireless advocates for victims and survivors of violence and have been recognized internationally for their work. Norma Cruz and the Survivor's Foundation support women and families of women victims through legal advocacy. Jesus Tecú Osorio has been active in seeking justice for massacre survivors in his community.
Now, both need the firm support of the international community to demand quick and thorough action from the Guatemalan government.
GHRC and partner NGO's in the US have sent a letter to Attorney General Velásquez expressing concern over threats against both Norma Cruz and Jesus Tecú. Read letter here [Spanish only].
GHRC is also sending a grassroots sign-on letter to the Guatemalan Attorney General to demand protection for Norma and Jesus and prosecution of those responsible. Respond now to sign both letters (only one signature needed).
Norma Cruz, renowned Guatemalan women's rights defender and founder of the Survivor's Foundation, received death threats for her work supporting a rape victim.
On September 19, 2009, at 10:45pm, she received a phone call: "I want you to drop the case of [xxx], you have eight days to do it, otherwise you will have serious problems, I will hand you the head of your daughter or son, you damned bitch." The message refers to the case of a girl who was raped, and who later received support from the Survivors Foundation. The anonymous caller also threatened a staff person at the Survivors Foundation on the same day.
On August 14, at 8:00 am, a car with tinted windows followed Norma's daughter's husband. The husband called his wife at home and told her to call the police. Minutes later, he arrived home, and so did the police. The same car approached them, but sped off when the occupants saw the police. The Survivors Foundation has been under surveillance by unknown men since July 26.
Jesus Tecú Osorio is a human rights lawyer and survivor of the Rio Negro massacre of March 13, 1982, in which 107 children and 70 women were killed. He has been a key witness in national and international genocide hearings to hold military officials responsible for their crimes.
On September 14, 2009 Jesus received an anonymous call. The caller told Jesus that he and his eldest son are under surveillance. In a second call soon after, the anonymous caller threatened Jesus, saying that if he does not reach an agreement, each one of his children will be abducted, tortured, and cut up.
Jesus Tecú immediately reported the situation to the police in Salamá and to the Public Prosecutor's office. Jesus wants the case to be moved to the Human Rights office in Guatemala City.He fears that the case will be ignored as a common case of extortion.
In the course of the calls, there were no concrete demands mentioned, there are not clear indications for the motives of the threat. Bands of extortionists operate in the region of Rabinal (Baja Verapaz) and they have murdered people who refuse to pay their fees. However, political motives for the threats against Jesus cannot be ruled out. He has received death threats in the past, due to his tireless commitment in the fight for justice and reparations against impunity for the genocide committed against the Achí Mayan people of Rabinal. None of those threats has been adequately investigated.
Jesus Tecú is one of the founders of the Association for the Integral Development of the Mayan Victims Achi of the Vera Paces (ADIVIMA). He is the director of the Popular Legal law Practice, offering legal counsel to victims of the violence. Jesus has coordinated the exhumation of dozens of secret graves in Rabinal. He has toured Europe and North America speaking out against the continued impunity for the Guatemalan genocide of the Mayan people.