On January 25, PBI-Guatemala posted: “PBI accompanies several organizations in the region, met with representatives of the Association of Neighbors of Chicoyoguito (AVECHAV) and presented before the authorities in Coban, Alta Verapaz.”

The Indigenous Q’eqchi’ community of Chicoyogüito was violently displaced from their ancestral lands so that an army base – then known as Military Zone 21 – could be established in the department of Alta Verapaz. More than 200 families were displaced from those lands on July 28, 1968, by the military.

After the displacement of the community, the military base became a clandestine center for illegal detention, torture, extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearance, and rape committed from 1978 to 1990.

At least 565 Indigenous people were disappeared at that base. The bodies identified are of Mayan Achí, Q’eqchi’, Pomochí, Ixil, and Kiché peoples.

On June 9, 2021, in the lead-up to the July 28 anniversary of their displacement, the community organized a demonstration. Before it could even begin, 21 community members were arrested on the charge of “aggravated usurpation” as they gathered for this protest.

PBI-Guatemala has noted: On October 6, 2021, we were present at the Cóban Courthouse to accompany the 21 community members of the Chicoyogüito Neighbours Association of Alta Verapaz (AVECHAV), who were detained during a peaceful march on June 9, 2021, and who were later tried. The hearing was suspended and rescheduled for March 30, 2022.”

PBI-Guatemala has accompanied AVECHAV since 2015.

PBI-Guatemala accompanied the first statement hearing for the criminalized defenders on June 18, 2021.