On the 24th of January the High Risk Court in Guatemala sentenced five former members of the paramilitary Civil Self-Defense Patrols (PAC), armed groups recruited by Guatamala’s army, to 30 years imprisonment for the sexual violence committed against indigenous Maya Achí women during the civil war in Guatemala (1960-1996). Outside of the courthouse, hundreds of supporters came together and celebrated the verdict.
Guatemalan women come together at the courthouse to support the survivors of sexual violence.
The sexual violence took place in the early 80’s and included sexual slavery, rape and other forms of sexual violence. This verdict is the second trial on sexual violence against indigenous women committed during the civil war in Guatemala and comes almost 6 years after the previous one, the Sepur Zarco verdict. In the Sepur Zarco verdict, two former military officials were found guilty for the systematic rape and sexual slavery of indigenous women in a small village near the Sepur Zarco outpost.
Andrea González Coj, a Maya Achí woman and psychosocial support professional, hugs Pedrina López de Paz, who gave her testimony during the public hearings that condemned five ex-paramilitaries to 30 years in prison in Guatemala
A group of 36 Maya Achí survivors started their journey to seek justice for these atrocities 11 years ago. Their journey for justice was faced by multiple challenges as the court did not accept the case on multiple occasions. In 2019, the court even set the accused free after the court ruled that they did not believe the testimonies. However, the judiciary was changed upon appeal, leading to a breakthrough in seeking justice for the Maya Achí survivors. The trial lasted three weeks. Many survivors and relatives of the victims gave testimonies on the horrible sexual violence they were faced with. Their testimonies helped a lot in establishing the sexual violence that was committed. The sexual violence against the Maya Achí survivors was used as a strategy of war, to destroy the Maya Achí people through the sexual violence committed against the Maya Achí women. The sentence brings closure for the victims and gives them relief to their hearts and minds. One of the victims stated: ‘’Our aim for seeking justice is not revenge, but to make sure that this does not happen again.’’
At Trama Textiles we celebrate this verdict and want to underline the courage and determination of these Maya Achí survivors. Their journey for justice was faced by numerous obstacles, including the discrimination and stigmatization they were faced with. We are more than happy to see justice finally finding its way to these brave indigenous survivors.