ELAW partner attacked in Guatemala

Yuri Melini, who is recovering from a brutal attack that took place last year.

January 25, 2009

Guatemala's El Periodico newspaper published an interview with ELAW partner Yuri Melini. Find an English translation of that interview here: <http://www.elaw.org/node/3817>.

October 23, 2008 

Yuri Melini

On September 4, 2008, ELAW partner Yuri Melini was shot outside a relative's home in Guatemala City. It is widely believed that he was targeted for his environmental advocacy. Yuri is the Director General of the Center for Environmental and Social Legal Action (CALAS) and an outspoken advocate for the environment. Yuri was in intensive care for 28 days and underwent four major surgeries. He is now recuperating at home.

A letter from Yuri was published on October 10, 2008, in Diario de Centro America. Yuri writes: "... in my second life, my work as an environmental activist is growing and has been enriched, my humanitarian work transformed into a permanent pacifism with humility and constant struggle, asking only this: we must live in peace with nature and harmony with our fellow humans."

Read more.

September 12, 2008

Dear Friends:

Yuri Melini (left) with Bern Johnson and Lori Maddox of ELAW and Rafael Maldonado of CALAS, at a judicial training workshop in April.

A colleague of ELAW in Guatemala has been viciously attacked for his environmental advocacy. Yuri Melini, the Director General of the Center for Environmental and Social Legal Action (CALAS) was shot outside the home of a relative as he was getting out of his car. The gunman called his name and opened fire. Yuri is in intensive care in a hospital in Guatemala City.

Yuri is an outspoken advocate for the environment in Guatemala, and is frequently quoted in the media. A week before the attack, Yuri wrote a column that was published in the Central American Diary calling attention to threats against people working to protect the human right to a healthy environment. Yuri noted threats against Guatemala's Minister of Natural Resources, Dr. Luis Ferraté. Dr. Ferraté is one of many voices in the media calling for a full investigation of Yuri's attack. Kyung-wha Kang, UN Deputy High Commissioner for Human Rights, said of the attack: "The biggest concern, in addition to the life and security of the environmentalists and defenders of human rights, is that environmental issues would be rejected in this way; we are sure that the attack is linked to the recent threats against Minister Luis Ferraté and his team."

This crime is an attack against defenders of the environment and human rights all over the world. The perpetrators of this attack must be brought to justice. For more information about this attack and Yuri's condition, visit: www.calas.org.gt.

Thank you for your interest.


Lori Maddox
Associate Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide

P.S. The following is a recent news report from Guatemala.