Subject: GUAT: Abuse of Rights of Women 6:14 pm Sep 13, 1991 Source: Peacenet (Fido:250/22

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From: William Bowles Subject: GUAT: Abuse of Rights of Women 6:14 pm Sep 13, 1991 Source: Peacenet (Fido:250/222) igc:aicoord Conf:ai.general Human Rights Workers: Guatemala Members and leaders of the Coordinadora Nacional de Viudas de Guatemala (CONAVIGUA)/National Coordinating Committee of Widows of Guatemala CONAVIGUA was founded in 1988 by women whose husbands "disappeared" or were killed as a result of the government's counter-insurgency campaigns and has been active in denouncing human rights violations suffered by their families and in campaigning for better living conditions for Guatemalan widows and their children. Amnesty International is concerned at reports of continuous harassment and intimidation directed at leaders and members of CONAVIGUA, National Coordinating Committee of Widows of Guatemala. On July 24, 1991, at about 5:00 PM, Maria Morales, one of CONAVIGUA's leaders had just left CONAVIGUA's offices in Guatemala City when an unidentified man reportedly blocked her way and aggressively started questioning her about her involvement in CONAVIGUA. He warned her that she should not work with the organization and added that he was a member of the Policia Nacional (National Police) and an escort to a colonel. He also reportedly tried to grab hold of her but she managed to run away. Maria Moreles has allegedly been the target of abduction attempts and death threats in recent months. Amnesty International is seriously concerned for her safety. A few days later, at about midnight on July 28, several uniformed police in two cars reportedly arrived at the offices of CONAVIGUA, and started ringing the doorbell insistently. Among those sleeping that night at CONAVIGUA's premises were six children and four leaders of the organization. When they opened the door, two policemen forced their was into the building without a warrant and reportedly started searching everything. They shone their flashlights in the faces of those still in bed and accused the women of hiding "someone." Two other policemen stayed at the door and took down personal details from Fermina Lopez, one of the leaders. (In 1990 Fermina Lopez was a featured speaker at the Amnesty International Annual General Meeting in Boston.) When another woman leaned out from a first floor window to look towards the street a policeman allegedly fired a gunshot in the air. The police eventually left. President Jorge Serrano Elias came to power in January 1991; during his presidential campaign he had pledged to ensure protection of human rights. Amnesty International remains seriously concerned at what appears to be a deterioration in the human rights situation in the country in the past few months, including an increased number of killings, death threats, torture and "disappearances". Members and leaders of human rights groups, including CONAVIGUA and other popular organizations, have been particularly targeted. Action Request: Please send courteously worded telegrams/telexes and airmail letters; -expressing concern at the reported intimidation of Maria Morales, Fermina Lopez and other members of CONAVIGUA; -asking that immediate steps be taken to ensure the safety of Maria Morales, Fermina Lopez and other CONAVIGUA members; -asking that the threats, intimidating incidents and the alleged illegal search on CONAVIGUA be investigated and those responsible be brought to justice. Appeals to: Lic. Fernando Hurtado Prem, Ministro de Gobernacion, Despacho Ministerial, Oficina No. 8, Primer Nivel, Palacio Nacional, Guatemala, Guatemala faxes: 011 502 2 518105 telexes: 305 5085 MINGOB GU telegrams: Ministro Gobernacion, Guatemala, Guatemala Copies to: Diario Siglo XXI (this is a newspaper), 7a Avenida 11-79, Edificio Galerias Espana, 60 piso, Zona 9, Guatemala, Guatemala

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