Ajq’ij Domingo Choc Che was a husband and father, a community member who worked to help others and an expert in the knowledge of herbs and medicinal plants and their ancestral uses. His specialty in Mayan science was Aj Ilonel. He belonged to the Council of Mayan Spiritual Guides Releb’aal Saq’e’ and was part of a team of Guatemalan and European scientists who worked on research projects with the University of Zurich, Switzerland, the University College London in the UK, and the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala.
On Saturday, June 6, 2020, Junlajuj K’at, Tat Domingo was tortured and burned to death under the accusation of being a “sorcerer”. His murder is part of a horrendous pattern of discrimination and persecution against Mayan spirituality in Guatemala. For being Maya, for practicing Mayan ancestral spirituality, studying and using plants as medicine for human health, they took his life and brought pain to his family. The ICCA Consortium joins the spiritual guides, traditional healers and ancestral Mayan authorities in their search for justice and their demand that the Public Ministry investigates the facts. We ask for respect of Mayan spirituality in the communities and peoples for harmony and social peace. There is no place in this world for racism, fanaticism, xenophobia or fundamentalism.
Download the full statement here: “To the people of Guatemala and the world: WE REPUDIATE AND CONDEMN THE MURDER OF GRANDFATHER AJQ’IJ DOMINGO CHOC CHE”. (Also available in Spanish.)
High profile figures, including the President of Guatemala, Dr. Alejandro Giammattei, condemned the murder and called for justice:
Lamento y condeno el asesinato de Domingo Choc, desde el sábado le solicité al @MPguatemala su colaboración para que los responsables sean llevados ante la justicia. Le presento mis más sinceras muestras de solidaridad y condolencias a su familia, Dios les dé resignación.
— Alejandro Giammattei (@DrGiammattei) June 8, 2020
Four people were soon arrested, one of whom openly confessed on camera to his role in the horrific murder. As of the end of June 2020, court hearings were still ongoing.
We will continue to monitor the situation and work with our Members and other organisations, to respond to the self-determined needs of affected Mayan families and spiritual healers in Guatemala; and to continue advocating for full recognition of and respect for Indigenous peoples’ rights and diverse worldviews, cultures and ways of life.
Select news coverage:
- “Ombudsman guatemalteco condena el asesinato público del naturista Domingo Choc” – eldiario.es, 8 June 2020 (Spanish only)
- “Detienen a 4 personas en Guatemala tras el homicidio de un guía espiritual“ – Michelle Mendoza for CNN Español, 9 June 2020 (Spanish only)
- “Murder of indigenous Maya healer spurs calls for justice in Guatemala” – Sofia Menchu for Reuters, 9 June 2020 (English only)
- “Outrage as Guatemalan Maya spiritual guide is tortured and burned alive” – Jeff Abbott for The Guardian, 10 June 2020 (English only)
- “¿Cuál fue la causa del crimen contra Domingo Choc Che Aj Ilonel?” – Quimy De León, Carlos Ernesto Choc y Rubén Darío Melgar for Prensa Comunitaria (no date, Spanish only)
- “Asesinan a un Aj Ilonel y guia spiritual Maya Q’eqchi’“ – Oxlajuj Ajpop (ICCA Consortium Member), 8 June 2020
- Statement by Alianza de Mujeres y Mujeres Indígenas de Guatemala por el Acceso a la Justicia, 8 June 2020
- Statement by Jordán Rodas Andrade, the Prosecutor for Human Rights in Guatemala (no date)
- “Lideresa del pueblo K´iche´ manifiesta indignación por el asesinato de Domingo Choc” – Sebastiana Par Álvarez, Miembra del Consejo de Pueblos K’iche’s, CPK y autoridad ancestral, 9 June 2020
- Solidarity statement by Plateau Perspectives (ICCA Consortium Member), 11 June 2020
- “En repudio al asesinato del guía espiritual Maya Q’eqchi Tata Domingo Choc Ché en Guatemala” – Declaración del Grupo de Trabajo CLACSO Pueblos indígenas y proyectos extractivos, 12 June 2020
- “Celebrating the life of Tata Domingo Choc Che and demanding justice for his assassination” – Cultural Survival, 23 June 2020