Guatemala: Free Indigenous Prisoner of Conscience Bernardo Caal Xol

Bernardo Caal Xol is a Maya Q'eqchi' Indigenous community leader and teacher who is behind bars and in danger for defending the rights of his people.

At the request of dozens of Indigenous communities, Bernardo took legal action to stop the Oxec I and II dam projects on the Cahabón River for violating Indigenous rights.

Bernardo has paid a heavy price for defending his people and their sacred river. Authorities charged him with trumped up charges and sentenced him to more than seven years in jail, even though there was no evidence. Since then, Bernardo has been denied his right to appeal this wrongful conviction.

In Guatemala, unfounded legal charges are a common means to paralyze the peaceful efforts of anyone who dares to speak up for indigenous rights and the environment on which they depend.

Bernardo Caal Xol is a prisoner of conscience. He is now at grave risk of contracting COVID-19, amid overcrowded prison conditions.

Bernardo Caal Xol has committed no crime. Join us to call for his immediate release!
Dear Attorney General,

I am deeply troubled that Maya Q'eqchi' defender Bernardo Caal Xol has been imprisoned since January 2018 on unfounded charges, convicted without evidence, and repeatedly denied scheduled appeal hearings. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, he is at grave risk of contagion in jail.

Bernardo Caal Xol is a prisoner of conscience. He committed no crime. He is a teacher, trade unionist and defender of human rights. His legitimate, peaceful efforts should be respected not criminalized.

I call on you to:

-Immediately release Bernardo Caal Xol from unjust incarceration because there is no evidence that he has committed any crime.
-Undertake a full, prompt and impartial investigation into this miscarriage of justice and ensure appropriate sanctions for the authorities responsible.
-Stop misuse of the justice system to unjustly detain people who peacefully defend human rights, land, Indigenous territory and the environment.

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I await news of your action.

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