Guatemala: Freedom for Anastasia Mejía and Petrona Siy

Anastasia Mejía y Petrona Siy

FROM THE EDITORS: Awasqa joins the international call about the unjustified detention of the Xol Abaj Radio and TV’s director, Anastasia Mejía Tiriquiz, who has been in prison since September 22 in Guatemala. We have translated below a communiqué of Guatemalan organizations that are demanding her freedom, as well as that of the social leader Petrona Siy Castro. Similar demands have been made by international organizations, Women in Journalism and Reporters Without Borders. We demand that Anastasia is freed immediately, silenced for her fight against corruption and freedom of expression. Please find below the full statement from the Guatemalan organizations:

UPDATE: Anastasia Mejía was released from prison in October 29, 2020, but until April 2021 she was still facing criminal charges that carry four to twelve years of prison, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. Her pending trial has severely limited her reporting because she can’t leave the Quiché Department. Indigenous leaders are regularly unjustly criminalized by Guatemala´s government.

SOURCE: Federación Guatemalteca de Escuelas Radiofónicas FGER

We Reject Political Violence and Discrimination Against Indigenous Women and Social Leaders

Organizations, Networks, and Coordination of Feminists, Women, and Indigenous Women Signers

We Express

1. Our resounding rejection of the arbitrary detention of the sisters Anastasia and Petrona Siy Tiriquiz Mejía Castro, occurred on September 22, who are accused of serious crimes such as sedition, attacks with specific aggravation, arson, and aggravated robbery. Our colleagues have been pointed out by municipal authorities as being responsible for the disturbances registered in the municipality of Joyabaj, Quiché, on August 24, where part of the municipal building was set on fire by the opposition of a group of merchants and residents.

2. We recognize the leadership trajectory of our colleagues, who have been in prison for more than 15 days, waiting for the court to receive their first statement, which is an abuse of the judicial processes and timing and seeks to undermine the spirit of those accused. [The first audience took place October 8, but the campaign for their immediate release continues.]

3. Anastasia Mejía is a Kʼicheʼ, Ajq´ij Mayan woman, communicator, and social leader. As part of her career, she was a member of the 2016-2020 Municipal Council, where she excelled in auditing public funds that were intended for communities of Joyabaj. Due to this, the mayor and other members of the Council have discriminated against her and initiated legal proceedings to seek political revenge given her role as an monitor and unwillingness to bow to the interests of the authorities.

Source: FGER,

4. Petrona Siy Castro is also a recognized leader in Joyabaj. As president of the Association of Rural Traders of the municipality, she has ensured that the rights of the population are respected and that the municipal authorities guarantee decent conditions for local merchants.

5. We consider that the accusations that are made against Anastasia and Petrona are unfounded and that they arise from political revenge of the authorities against the leaders who represent the legitimate interests of the population. Besides, they constitute acts of racism and discrimination against indigenous women, who day by day fight from various spaces to strengthen citizen participation and social auditing of local territories.

6. We demand the immediate release of our colleagues Anastasia Mejía and Petrona Siy Castro, and that the full enjoyment of their social, economic, and political rights are guaranteed. In the case of Anastasia Mejía, there is a clear violation of the free exercise of freedom of expression due to her role as a community communicator and violating their right to information of the population by limiting and questioning their journalistic work.

7. We call on the authorities to thoroughly investigate the causes of the complaints against both compañeras, and above all, the unmistakable role played by municipal authorities and other public officials in a case that threatens the strengthening of democracy and citizen participation, particularly of indigenous women.

Guatemala, October 06, 2020

#LibertadParaPetrona #LibertadParaAnastasia

Signatory organizations: Association of Women Butterfly Wings; Tierra Viva Women’s Organization; Majawil Q’ij; MUCOFUM; Alliance of Indigenous Women and Women for Access to Justice; Chomijá Indigenous Lawyers Association; AMUSCON; CODEFEM; Guatemala Studies Center; INCIDEJOVEN; SITRADOMSA; ATRAHDOM; SITRADOM; Ixoqib Miriam; CEDIMUJER NGO; Political Association of Mayan Women MOLOJ; Rope; Women’s Voices Collective; Justice NOW; Women Transforming the World; ASOL; CONVERGEMUJERES; DEMOS; ICCPG; Guatemalan Women’s Group; Network of Non-Violence Against Women; CLADEM Guatemala. In a personal capacity: Elvia Diéguez and Otilia Luz.

Video Emil ´Keme, academic, and Mayan activist Kʼicheʼ 


Watch Xol Abaj Radio’s coverage of the first court audience for Anastasia Mejía and Petrona Siy.