Urgent Action: Children of Human Right’s Defender Threatened

We’ve just received the following message from Kathy Dill – more info in taking part in this urgent action.

On the afternoon of September 14th, 2009, human rights defender Jesus Tecú Osorio received a telephone call on his personal cell phone from an unidentified extortionist who threatened to kidnap, torture and dismember each of Jesus’ children, one-by-one, if his demands are not met.

The caller demonstrated that he knows where Jesus lives with his wife and children, as well as the location of the school where his eldest son studies. Like most human rights defenders in Guatemala, Jesus has received many death threats over the years, none of which have been properly investigated. But Jesus has never let intimidation tactics deter him from continuing his human rights work.

This latest threat of barbarism against Jesus’ children is an especially heinous act. It is clear that the perpetrator is counting on Guatemala’s legendary culture of impunity to shield him from prosecution. Please join us in urging Guatemalan authorities to identify and prosecute the person(s) responsible.

Bio

Jesus Tecú Osorio is the recipient of multiple awards including the 1998 Reebok Human Rights Award, and an honorary law degree from Saint Francis Xavier University, Jesus Tecú Osorio is an extraordinary community organizer, civic leader and internationally recognized human rights defender. Jesus was born in 1971 in the village of Rio Negro and is a member of the Achí-Maya indigenous community located in the northern highland municipality of Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, Guatemala.

On March 18th 1982, during the height of Guatemala’s genocidal counterinsurgency campaign, state agents surrounded the village of Río Negro and massacred 177 women and children. Jesus and 17 other children were held aside so that they could serves as household labor in the homes of local paramilitary collaborators. After two years the municipality finally allowed Jesus’ older sister to claim him.

Ten years later, Jesus heard a radio news story about forensic anthropologists conducting an exhumation of a clandestine grave in the neighboring province of El Quiche. He soon became the driving force behind the campaign to compel the public ministry to authorize the exhumation of the Rio Negro massacre site. Since 1993, Jesus has dedicated his life to the defense of human rights.

His work has led to the exhumation of dozens of mass graves in Rabinal and the community’s dignified reburial of the remains. Jesus’ testimony led to the conviction of local collaborators and he is currently a prime witness in the case against the intellectual authors of the Guatemalan genocide. Jesus is a founding member and past president of the Association for the Integral Development of the Victims of Violence in the Verapaces, Maya Achi (ADIVIMA),[1] founder of The New Hope Foundation, Río Negro,[2] and current director of Rabinal’s Legal Clinic.

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Categories: Urgent Actions

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