Indigenous leader killed in Guatemala

March 12, 2013

GUATEMALA CITY – A member of Guatemala’s National Indigenous and Campesino Coordinating Council (CONIC) was killed by several gunshots in a small village in the western Guatemalan highlands, the organization reported on Tuesday.

Gerónimo Sol Ajcot, 68, died in an attack on Monday in the indigenous municipality of Santiago Atitlán, in the department of Sololá, located some 170 km west of the capital, a statement from CONIC said.

“Six men, heavily armed and hooded, shot [Ajcot] to death with a firearm … as he left his home,” the press release said.

Last week, Carlos Hernández, leader of the National Health Workers’ Union, was shot dead in a town near the border with Honduras.

The incidents were condemned by the United Nations Office for Human Rights in Guatemala, which urged authorities to take “urgent measures” to ensure the protection of activists in the country.

“It is unacceptable to use such criminal practices to thwart and obstruct the free exercise of human rights, including labor rights and freedom of expression,” said Alberto Brunori, a representative of the U.N. High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Some 1,036 people have been killed in Guatemala in the first two months of 2013, more than 90 percent of them by firearms and knives, according to the National Institute of Forensic Science (INACIF).

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