More charges levied against Mayans over Myles detention

Last month, charges were laid against villagers of Santa Cruz for unlawful imprisonment of Rupert Myles, who was found squatting on Mayan Communal land and accused of destroying a Sacred Mayan mound at Uxbenca. Today, additional charges were levied against some of the thirteen villagers who detained and tied up Myles as they waited for  police to remove him from the disputed communal land. The  villagers returned to court this morning where 11 of them received an additional charge of common assault and were arraigned  in the Punta Gorda Magistrates Court.  Lawyer for the Mayans is Monica Coc.

Monica Coc Magnesson – Attorney at Lawvlcsnap-2015-07-29-12h08m36s10

Well, today they were additional charges that were levied against eleven  Mayan.

 Wil Meheia – Reporter

“That’s additional to the previous charges?”

 Monica Coc Magnesson

“Yes. A charge of common assault. Everything else remains the same. “

 Wil Meheia

“What about the illegal imprisonment? Was that one of the charges before?”

Monica Coc Magnesson

“Yes.”

Wil Meheia

“Does that still stand?”

Monica Coc Magnesson

“Yes.”

Reporter

“All the charges remain the same plus an addition?”

Monica Coc Magnesson

“Yes an additional charge of common assult.”

Wil Meheia

“So what’s next? Is there an adjournment? “

 Monica Coc Magnesson

“Yes, the next court date is September 29th.”

 

vlcsnap-2015-07-29-12h08m45s107Pablo Mis – Project Coordinator, Maya Leaders Alliance
“This morning we have the 13 Maya leaders brought before the local magistrate again. This session we expected to learn much more what the nature of the charges are and where we go from here. I believe the attorney already explained what happened in court, but Santa Cruz remains very committed to ensuring that we see this through with our leaders. We maintained that the struggle of Santa Cruz is shared by all Maya villages and all of Belize and we believe that we will see justice prevail in the end.”

 

The thirteen now facing charges in court are Christina Coc, the spokes person for the Maya Leaders Alliance, Armando Mas, Raymundo Sho, vlcsnap-2015-07-29-12h09m00s249Oliegarlo Sho, Renato Canti, Aram Canti, Basilio Teul, Isabel Canti, Pedro Teul, Timoteo Sho, Alfredo Mes and Michael Sho and Alcalde of the Village, Manuel Pop.   Outside the court room today,  female supporters of the 13 had their right arms in white slings. According to the women, they were showing solidarity with those who were arrested in the early hours of the morning where a grandmother was allegedly hurt by police during the arrests. The Mayans allege that police refused to issue the grandmother a medical legal form after her arm was hurt and so the white sling symbolizes a stand of solidarity with her as well as a stand for peace and justice.  As for Rupert Myles, on Friday, we heard from Dr. John Morris, Director of the Institute of Archaeology, who told us that there will be legal consequences for Rupert Myles  as well, since about 50% of the mound was destroyed. Here is what he said.

 

vlcsnap-2015-07-27-10h18m48s107Dr. John Morris – Director, Institute of Archeology

“I don’t know what possessed the gentleman to keep on building and to bulldoze the road. I recently came from a NICH board meeting yesterday and I was given the instruction to proceed with the notice of eviction.”

Reporter
“Is there any criminal sanctions that can be brought against Mr. Myles? Because we were picking sentiment from the Mayans that they’ve been criminal sanctioned with the unlawful imprisonment charge, but nothing has been done to Mr. Myles. Will any action be taken?”

Dr. John Morrisvlcsnap-2015-07-29-12h09m57s56
“Definitely, just like the case with the Noh Mul, the destruction of the mound…it is in court right now. Mr. Denny Grijalva has had to attend several court sessions. The same way, we have all intentions. We will give him a letter of eviction from the area and then we are finishing up our assessment of the damage that he has done to the platform of the ancient Maya building and when we are finished with that we are going to serve him with court papers for the destruction of a monument based on the laws of Belize.”

Reporter

“Sir any preliminary estimate as to how much has been damaged?”

Dr. John Morris

“About fifty percent of the mound has been damaged.”

Reporter

“A timeline has to when those charges will be levied or when he will be served?”

Dr. John Morris

“Well we just finished the work this week that went by. I had to prepare a report for the NICH Board of Directors for yesterday and then shortly, maybe next week, we will be sending him a notice of eviction. And then I have to speak with the lawyers that form part of the NICH body and have them give me the go ahead or tell me what else needs to be done.”

Reporter

“As an archaeologist, can you share the importance if that particular mound or where it falls into the system of the Mayan temples ?

Dr. John Morris

“Well, Uxbenca is one of the  earliest known Mayan site in Southern Belize. In fact, the early occupation it dates to about 250 AD.  makes it very early because most of the sites in southern Belize were late – 700 – 800 AD, Nim li punit, Luubantun, Pusilha. This is an early one. It is very important for us to protect a lot of the mounds in that area for future research because it can tell us a lot about the early populations of ancient Maya in Toledo.To destroy these mounds just doesn’t make sense.”

Today, Pablo Mis, speaking on behalf of the Maya Alliance, says they are encouraged by Dr. Morris’ statement to the press

 

Pablo Mis – Project Coordinator, Maya Leaders Alliancevlcsnap-2015-07-29-12h08m45s107
“Last week we’ve heard from the Institute of Archaeology NICH, through the media that they intend to evict Mr. Myles and to levy charges where infractions may have occurred. We are encouraged to hear that the Institute is finally coming on board with that. There is the position of the communities that any infraction that may have occurred must be dealt with according to the laws of Belize. The community also maintains that the eviction is to happen urgently because as we speak Mr. Myles continues to denude the area, the mound. He continues to clear and he continues to plant. I think he is living through to his words where he says “I want to see how high they will jump.” We expect the Archaeology to move as quickly as possible and to keep the leaders of Santa Cruz informed as to their plans.”

And while there is talk to evict Rupert Myles, what about his girlfriend who lives in the village? Mis spoke about that as well.

Pablo Mis
“His wife has never been removed from the village. She has always enjoyed the full privilege of the community and I don’t see that changing. On the other hand Mr. Myles has not necessarily lived in the village. He visits the village and well if he wishes to become a resident, there is established processes as has been explained by the leaders from the onset that must be followed. Any person who wishes to reside in a Mayan village or wishes to register an interest in a Mayan village must follow that process which includes going to an Alcalede. The Alcalde  calling a village meeting, at the meeting, discussion happening with the person that is intrerested to reside in the community. That is a part with building our  core with a potential new resident in the community. Any person including Mr. Miles is expected to follow that long standing process.”

The villagers of Santa Cruz had recently held a prayer meeting in their community on Sunday July 26. According to the Toledo Alcaldes Association, Maya people from several villages in Toledo along with their spiritual leaders gathered in Santa Cruz Village to pray for peace and justice.

Pablo Misvlcsnap-2015-07-29-12h34m45s94
“Just to say again that the Maya communities have been following this case. This last Sunday we had a gathering in Santa Cruz where many more villagers from the neighboring communities came to support the people of Santa Cruz, encouraging them to stay united, stay the course. We, on that note continue to call upon the Honorable Prime Minister to ensure that even the least a response to the request of Maya leaders. Santa Cruz stays unit. The other villages are monitoring this situation. We have heard from many of them expressing interest to be here and when the time is right, we will be bringing our people together particularly as we continue to call upon the government, the Honorable Prime Minister, to implement the orders of the court. We are still waiting for a response from the government on the calls of the Mayan leaders for the government to commence dialoged with the Mayan people.  

 

The thirteen Mayans charged in the detention of Rupert Myles are to return to court on September 29.

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