The Maya Leaders Alliance and Toledo Alcaldes Association will be back in court tomorrow to face the government of Belize which has appealed the ruling passed in the Supreme Court on June 28, 2010. That ruling was in favor of the thirty-eight villages in Southern Belize affirming their land rights. The hearing will start tomorrow. Spokesperson for the Maya Leaders Alliance, Christina Coc says they are confident the Court of Appeal will rule in their favor once more.

Christina Coc – Maya Leaders Alliance

“We have faith in the judicial system. We have proven through two different courts; we have proven two times now through the Supreme Court of Belize that as Maya people we are indigenous to this area and we have rights to the lands that we use and occupy. We have also proven through the Inter American Commission on Human Rights Court that we have rights to the lands and resources that we use. We are looking forward to the Court of Appeal hearing. We are not surprised that the Government has appealed that decision. We continue to see the government’s lack of political will to accept a recognition and respect for our rights to our lands and resources. We see this as continued violation of our rights as Maya people, we see this as disrespect not just for the Maya people but for all Belizeans for failure to uphold the Belize Constitution which protects our rights to property.”

Coc adds that they are prepared to face the government once more.

Christina Coc – Maya Leaders Alliance

“We have always been prepared, our message hasn’t changed, our message remains the same, that our way of life is sustained by the use of the land that we call our home. That has not changed; we will continue to say that. The Court of Appeal, it is not a place where there is a retrial, it is a place where the Government claims that the Supreme Court through the Chief Justice Dr. Abdulai Conteh, they are saying that he made an error in his judgement and they are going to have to prove that. We do not find anywhere that the Chief Justice made an error, we agree completely with his judgement, of course it is in our favour and we continue to believe that the Court of Appeal will agree with his judgement. Of course we have yet to see what the results of the court of appeal will be but we stand firm and we know the court has recognized our rights to these lands. We did not need a court to recognize that for us we’ve always believed that these lands are ours and we continue to believe that.”

The hearing starts tomorrow and continues on to the eighteenth and the twenty-first of March. The Maya Leaders Alliance and the Toledo Alcaldes Association is calling on the Belizean public to join them tomorrow at the Law Library and stand with them in their fight.