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Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Announces 2023 Human Rights Award Laureate

40th annual award recognizes Indigenous human rights and environmental defenders in Guatemala

WASHINGTON, May 15, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights today announced the Guatemalan organization Parlamento del Pueblo Xinka (Parliament of the Xinka People) as the recipient of its 40th annual Human Rights Award. A ceremony honoring Xinka Parliament will take place Tuesday, June 6 at 11 am in the Kennedy Caucus Room, Russell Senate Office Building in Washington, DC.

The Xinka Parliament is the Assembly of the Ancestral Authorities of the Xinka people, the second-largest Indigenous nation in Guatemala. Recognized for their environmental activism and ongoing efforts to protect the Xinka people's land, rights, and culture, the Xinka Parliament joins a distinguished group of more than 50 defenders and organizations honored throughout the Award's 40-year history. 

"In the face of ongoing threats and attacks, the Xinka Parliament fearlessly advocates for Indigenous and environmental rights," said Kerry Kennedy, president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights. "From challenging mining companies' illegal entry into the ancestral lands to demanding accountability for assaults on environmental and human rights defenders, their members embody peaceful resistance and the pursuit of justice in Guatemala. We are honored to recognize the Xinka Parliament and look forward to our continued partnership."

Established in 2004, the Xinka Parliament works to maintain unity among its different communities; to promote the value of their culture, science, technology, cosmovision, and spirituality; to engage in political advocacy; to promote women's rights; and to protect their ancestral territory and the environment.

The Xinka Parliament is currently engaged in litigation to claim their rights throughout the territory, including the right to free, prior, and informed consent and the defense of leading Xinka authorities who have been criminalized for their activism. The Xinka Parliament has led the peaceful resistance to the mining project of El Escobal, one of the largest silver mines in the world. As part of their efforts to protect ancestral lands from environmental degradation, they successfully challenged the mining license before the Constitutional Court, putting a halt to the project until a free and informed consultation process with the affected communities takes place.

However, the Xinka Parliament has faced serious threats and attacks for their struggle, including a 2014 attack that killed 16-year-old Xinka activist Topacio Reynoso. RFK Human Rights is currently co-counsel to the Xinka Parliament in a petition to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to hold the Guatemalan government responsible for Topacio's murder.

"I want to thank RFK Human Rights for the recognition of the Xinka People as human rights defenders. This award motivates us to keep defending our territory, always searching for the common good. This is an award to the peaceful resistance, to the demand to respect the international covenants ratified by Guatemala regarding human rights and Indigenous rights. It is an award to the unity and coordination of the Xinka People. The energies of the grandfathers and grandmothers always be upon you. Very grateful - the Xinka People," said Aleisar Arana Morales, Huxi Hurak (president) of the Parliament.

The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award honors champions of social justice who stand up to oppression in the nonviolent pursuit of human rights. Honorees receive a cash prize and ongoing support for their work through RFK Human Rights campaigns and mobilization, strategic litigation, training and capacity-building, and more.

To learn more about this year's Human Rights Award laureates, visit https://rfkhumanrights.org/awards/human-rights-award.

About Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights:
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is a nonpartisan, not-for-profit organization that has worked to realize Robert F. Kennedy's dream of a more just and peaceful world since 1968. In partnership with local activists, we advocate for key human rights issues? championing change makers and pursuing strategic litigation at home and around the world. And to ensure change that lasts, we foster a social-good approach to business and investment and educate millions of students about human rights and social justice. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok, and Twitter: @RFKHumanRights.

SOURCE Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

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