In Memory of the life of Adolfo Ich Chaman-
On September 27, 2009 Indigenous leader Adolfo Ich Chaman was killed in his community of El Estor, Guatemala, allegedly by security forces of HudBay Minerals, a Canadian mining company. Adolfo was a respected Mayan Q’eqchi’ community leader, a school teacher and a father of six. He was an outspoken critic of the harms caused by Canadian mining activities in his community, a struggle which goes back decades and is interwoven with a brutal civil war, widespread repression particularly against Indigenous peoples, and government corruption.
Today, five years later, KAIROS joins his family, his community and human rights and solidarity groups in Guatemala and in Canada in commemorating Adolfo Ich’s life and demanding justice. Angelica Choc, Adolfo’s wife, has called on all of us to join them in solidarity: “Let all of us who are fighting in defense of our territories unite to demand that justice be served”.
In the five years since Adolfo’s violent death, victims, witnesses, and family members have struggled through a long and frustrating series of legal processes – in Canada and Guatemala – in order to achieve justice. Angelica Choc is making legal history by bringing her husband’s case to Canadian courts. In fact, their case is setting precedents by being the first lawsuit against a mining company over human rights allegations abroad to be heard in Canadian courts.
Last November, KAIROS helped lead a Study Tour to Guatemala which travelled to El Estor. Tour members met with Adolfo’s widow, Angelica , and others in the community, and were challenged to do something with their testimonies : “Do not leave our words in your note books,” Angelica pleaded.
The Open for Justice Campaign is an effort to act on these words. The campaign is pressing for federal legislation that would allow plaintiffs like Angelica who believe they have been harmed by a Canadian mining company access to courts in Canada; to the same justice we have in Canada. Among other things, this legislation would mean that Angelica Choc and others like her would not have to fight to have their cases heard in Canada.
As we remember Adolf Ich we also recognize the urgency for justice. Communities impacted by Canadian mining companies should not have to struggle to have their cases heard in Canada. The Open for Justice Campaign is an important step on the road to justice.