Oaxaca: UNHCR and IACHR condemn assassination of two of Copala’s community radio announcers

Noticias/El Universal]

The victims, Teresa Bautista Merino and Felícitas Martínez Sánchez [Source: Noticias/El Universal]

On April 7, two indigenous Triqui women from the community radio station Radio Copala‑The Voice which Breaks the Silence were assassinated in a shooting ambush. The crime occurred in the town of San Juan Copala in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca, where the women were planning to participate in the State Gathering for the Defense of the Rights of the Indigenous People of Oaxaca.

The victims of the double homicide were Teresa Bautista Merino, aged 24 años, and Felícitas Martínez Sánchez, aged 20. As a result of the same attack, three others were wounded: Francisco Vásquez Martínez (30), his wife Cristina Martínez Flores (22), and their three-year-old son Jaciel Vásquez Martínez.

In a communiqué dated April 8, the Center for Community Support Working Together condemned the murders and demanded “a thorough investigation of the facts” and “appropriate punishment for the material and intellectual authors who have attacked the freedom of expression of our indigenous communities.” They assert that “once again we are experiencing events related to Oaxaca’s climate of violence and repression, always covered up by authorities at all levels.”

The Triqui community, according to reports in several newspapers on April 16, accuses certain leaders of the Popular Unity party of being the intellectual authors of the crime. They attribute the reason for the assassination to the radio station’s repeated denouncements of corruption in the area.

On 17 April, Office in Mexico of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as well as the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the OAS publicly condemned the assassinations.

Previously, on March 27, 2007, the Special Rapporteur published a Special Study on the Assassination of Journalists (in Spanish only). This report highlighted that the majority of such cases occur in Colombia, Brazil and Mexico.

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