Guatemala: peasant massacre under investigation

Seven were killed and some 40 wounded Oct. 4 when security forces attacked a protest road blockade by Maya indigenous campesinos in Guatemala's highland department of Totonicapán. Protesters were blocking Cuatro Caminos intersection, a meeting point for roads linking the towns of Totonicapán, Quetzaltenango, Huehuetenango and the capital, Guatemala City. President Otto Pérez Molina initially denied that soldiers on the scene were armed, saying the violence began when a private security guard on a cargo truck fired his gun in an attempt to clear the crowd. After Guatemalan newspapers ran photos from the scene clearly showing soldiers armed with rifles, Pérez changed his story, admitting the troops were armed but saying they only fired in the air after the protesters "tried to lynch" them. A private security guard and the seven soldiers who fired their weapons are under investigation by civil authorities, but Defense Minister Ulises Anzueto said the troops will remain in the army pending completion of the probe. Eight soldiers supposedly injured in the confrontation were presented to reporters at Anzueto's press conference in the capital.

Bangladesh indigenous peoples: We exist!

Tribal communities across Bangladesh on Aug. 9 observed the International Day of the World's Indigenous People with rallies to demand their constitutional recognition as "indigenous people." An especially large mobilization was held in Rangamati in the southeastern Chittagong Hill Tracts. (See map.) The protests were a reaction to recent statements by Foreign Minister Dipu Moni that the tribal peoples of the Chittagong Hill Tracts are "ethnic minorities" and should not be called "indigenous" to the region. Tribal leaders criticized the government for failure to fully implement Chittagong Hill Tracts peace accord, reached in 1997 to secure land rights for the region's tribal peoples. "There is regular bloodshed in the hills," said Jyotirindra Bodhipriya Larma, chairman of Chittagong Hill Tracts Regional Council. "Either the peace accord in the hills will be implemented or the Jumma people will be extinct."

Syndicate content