Yolanda Oqueli: Mining activist shot and wounded in Guatemala.
Amnesty Canada asks for support to investigate the shooting of Yolanda Oqueli, in Guatemala (see Radius Mining, Canadian Mining company based in Vancouver, below)
Yolanda Oquelí, an anti-mining activist, was shot on June 13 as a result of her work as a human rights defender.
On June 13 in the town of San José del Golfo, in the department of Guatemala, Yolanda Oquelí was driving home after taking part in a protest outside the site of a proposed open-pit gold mine. As she was approaching her house, two men cut across her path on a motorbike and fired at her. Yolanda was hit close to her liver with a bullet and three other bullets hit her car. A .38 pistol was used in the attack according to local press. She was hospitalised due to the seriousness of her injuries, and is now recovering.
Yolanda Oquelí is an activist and leader of the organization Frente Norte del Área Metropolitana. Her organization has been protesting against a proposed mining project in her community. The project, known as El Tambor, covers parts of the municipalities of San Pedro Ayampic and San José del Golfo. Exploraciones Mineras de Guatemala, S.A. (EXMIGUA) operates the project. It is a local wholly-owned subsidiary of Radius Gold Inc., a Canadian company, based in Vancouver.
Activists have been protesting outside of the mine’s entrance since March 2012 because they claim they were not consulted about the mine and they are worried that industrial gold mining will pollute their water supply. States have a duty to carry out good-faith consultations with local communities before approving projects like Radius Gold’s El Tambor gold mine. Companies have a responsibility to ensure that local communities are consulted about their projects, even if the state fails to hold proper consultations. Affected Indigenous communities must give their free, prior, informed consent to all such projects to go ahead.
Since August 2011 Yolanda has received many threats and has been harassed many times as a result of her work defending human rights. The safety of Yolanda’s family is also at risk. She has filed several complaints with the Public Prosecurtor’s office about these threats against her and other activists. She has received threatening phone calls, her house has been vandalised and she has even received death threats. On May 11 she had filed her most recent complaint. Yolanda met with an Amnesty International delegation in May 2012. A month later she was shot.
Please add your name to Amnesty’s petition is calling for a full and swift investigation into the attack on Yolanda, and for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.