Guatemala was insulted and burned alive as the Maya's spiritual guide



In Guatemala, police have arrested two men and two women after a venerable indigenous Mayan spiritual guide was accused of witchcraft and drowned in gasoline.


Traditional herbal medicine specialist Domingo Chok Chee, 55, who worked with University College researchers in London, was recovered from his home in Chimi village on Saturday night.


According to the local prosecutor, the kidnappers accused him of holding a ceremony at the family grave and hitting him more than 10am on Sunday before torturing him. Three other suspects were at large.


A widely shared video of his last moments shows Chock running into the flames and begging for help before falling. No one is coming to his aid.


Their murder provoked outrage in Guatemala and beyond and provoked deep memories of the country's racist civil war, in which the indigenous population was subjected to systematic brutality.


"We are totalitarians. How can our own people behave so ignorantly?" Said Jos, secretary of the Spiritual Guides Council of Reliable Soc in Guatemala.

"There has been long time discrimination and racism against the Maya people. They don't respect our universe and our spirituality."

Chok Chee is an Angiolonel, or Muay Medicine Specialist, but is involved in scientific research projects and works for the protection of traditional knowledge and herbal remedies.

"We have lost a library of knowledge and grandfather," said Monica Berger, a sociologist and anthropologist at the University of Guatemala.

Chok was one of 30 people involved in the project, which began in May 2019 to document traditional medicinal plants in the remote section of Patten. The project was launched in collaboration with University College London, the University of Zurich and the University of the Valley.

Michael Heinrich, a biologist at UCL, said: "It is a brutal, fundamental violation of human rights and leaves a sense of helplessness." "This project should continue in his memory."

The murder prompted comparisons with the dark history of Guatemala's 36-year civil war.

Between 1960 and 1996, over 200,000 people died and 45,000 were missing, most of them civilians. According to the UN-backed Truth Commission, 80% of the victims of human rights violations during the war were genocidal, with violence against Indigenous people led by the United Nations and the Catholic Church.

"He is an example of a respectable and tolerant Guatemalan. He has spoken across cultures and across generations," Berger said. "But now his death has become a symbol of a systemic problem."

The 1996 piece identifies indigenous peoples' rights to tradition and spirituality for the first time. Violence against those who follow the Mayan mysticism known as "witchcraft" by traditional Christian groups continues.

Claudia Samoyo, one of the founders of human rights organization Udefagua, said, "Maya is a spiritual guide and clearly tortures traditional herbalists before peace is resolved."

"But since the colonial times of Guatemala, 'witchcraft' has not been able to eradicate the vision that deserves death," Samoa said. "Some manifestations of the Neo-Pentecostal Church and Catholicism regard the practice of Mayan spirituality as witchcraft."

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