Dr. Yuri Melini has worked for over 20 years to protect the environment and to ensure the rights of indigenous peoples in Guatemala. He is the founder of Centro de Acción Legal-Ambiental y Social de Guatemala (CALAS). As a result of his work, has been targeted for assassination, surviving a shooting attempt on his life in 2008. He continues to face threats and intimidation and requires full-time security. 


By acting in defence of these rights – these social and environmental rights we are challenging the interests of powerful people.
When we challenge these people they feel that their interests are threatened – and so they can react and turn violent – the risk is high.
The risk…the gun…the bullets…7 shots…

On the same day I was shot, 50 other environmental activists in Guatemala received death threats.
When I was in the hospital connected to a hundred different tubes my mother came to visit me. She said – Son – you are not a liar – you are not a thief – you have nothing to be ashamed of – get up face the world and go on with your work.
My flesh was torn and had to be repaired, but my second life has begun.
In Guatemala, we have a job to do, to speak for those who have no voice…to articulate for those who are prevented by the system, by the law, by disadvantage from communicating that experience. This is our job as human rights defenders.
And my experience of surviving the assassination attempt that left me in intensive care for 68 days, motivates me to tell you, we are not afraid, we will push ahead, we are right!