Yesterday, Human Rights First announced that Guatemalan indigenous rights activist and genocide survivor Jesus Tecu Osorio was recently selected to receive the prestigious 2010 Roger N. Baldwin Medal of Liberty Award for international human rights defenders. Tecu was chosen from a pool of more than 50 extraordinary human rights activities from around the world. Human Rights First will bestow the Medal of Liberty on Tecu at a ceremony in New York City in May 2010.
“Jesus Tecu was only a child when he witnessed the murder of his family during a massacre that killed nearly everyone in his remote Guatemalan village. Instead of seeking revenge, Jesus channeled his energies into pursuing justice for the genocide in Guatemala and working to secure a more peaceful future there,” said Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino.
According to Human Rights First, Tecu is now a leading human rights activist seeking justice for the genocide in Guatemala and promoting the rights of indigenous Mayans. And even though he remains at extreme risk he remains undeterred in his fight for justice. In Rabinal, Baja Verapaz, Tecu has established three human rights organizations that provide critical services to indigenous Mayans: the New Hope Foundation, the Association for the Integral Development of the Victims of Violence, Maya-Achí (ADIVIMA) and Rabinal’s Community Legal Aid Clinic. He is also a witness in prosecutions against high level Guatemalan military officials taking place now in Guatemala and Spain, as well as in proceedings before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. In addition to these activities, he has been a leading advocate in seeking accountability for damages to communities affected by the construction of the Chixoy hydroelectric dam.
The Medal of Liberty which Tecu will receive is named in honor of Roger Baldwin, founder of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the International League for Human Rights. It is presented by Human Rights First every other year to a human rights organization or activist outside of the United States that has made a distinguished contribution to the protection and promotion of human rights. In alternate years the ACLU selects a U.S.-based winner.
For more information on Jesus Tecu click here. And if you’re interested in learning more about the Roger Baldwin Medal of Liberty, you can do that here. You can also link to the original Human Rights First press release here which has more information about Tecu, his family and his background.