Chiapas: Second phase of Freedom and Justice Campaign begins in Acteal

September 23, 2009

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The second phase of the Atenco Freedom and Justice Campaign officially began on September 11th in Chiapas, where the People for the Defense of the Land (FPDT) chose to announce the beginning of their journey through 12 states. The purpose of the campaign is not only to educate people about Atenco, but also to get to know other struggles and the suffering of the people.

On September 11th the Abejas invited the FPDT to Acteal where they were welcomed with a banner that read “Welcome to the sacred land of Acteal, brothers and sisters of Atenco.” In response the FPDT walked down the stairs chanting, “Acteal, Atenco is here for you.” The FPDT went on to declare “the Supreme Court decision in the case of Acteal caused the same effect” as in many other cases, including Atenco, and “shows that institutions who are in charge of providing justice on all levels fill the role of guaranteeing protection and impunity to the ruling party and its repressive policies instead.”

The words exchanged spoke as much of the determination to keep up the fight as of the warmth between friends. There was dancing, speechmaking, and singing. Damian Camacho of FPDT said, “They want to get rid of this history because it’s not part of the official history… the history of the downtrodden people and their struggles.” The president of the Abejas, Sebastian, said it was a great honor for his organization to have the FPDT starting their campaign in Acteal. Damian replied that the honor was mutual, “You’ve opened paths and roads for us to follow and that’s what we’re doing… After awhile more roads had to be opened so that others could wake up and join us.” As expressed by Trinidad, the wife of Ignacio Del Valle, many agreed, “words are not enough to say thank you for your example of struggle, resistance and dignity. It strengthens us.”  After reading a letter to the Abejas from Ignacio del Valle as well as press releases from both organizations, symbolic gifts were exchanged: a machete to symbolize protecting the land was given to the Abejas by the FPDT, and a white flag symbolizing peace was given to the FPDT by the Abejas.

Within the context of this campaign, the FPDT are demanding “the impartial review of the cases of the nine prisoners in Molino de las Flores, as well as their immediate release for being political prisoners in Mexico; the immediate transfer of Ignacio del Valle, Felipe Alvarez and Hector Galindo to a jail close to their homes; the cancellation of Adan Espinoza’s arrest warrant, the release of 12 political prisoners, the revocation of their sentences; the unrestricted respect for the human rights of those detained and persecuted; the punishment of those materially and intellectually responsible for the repression and violation of human rights; a stop to the political persecution of Adan Espinoza; a stop to the criminalization of social movements in Mexico.” (FPDT press release)

Later the same day the FPDT delegation took part in a forum in San Cristobal de Las Casas where they were able to exchange with local individuals. They met with family members of the Ocosingo prisoners, the daughter of Alberto Patishtan (who is being held in prison CERSS #5), representatives from Innocent Voices, and the public. They also spoke with followers of the Other Campaign from Mitziton, who are presently mounting a campaign of resistance to the government highway project from San Cristobal to Palenque. The FPDT delegation explained their demands and denounced the worsening of prison conditions, contrary to the respect of human rights. They also denounced the degrading treatment of family members who visit their loved ones in prison.

On September 12th the FPDT delegation met with the Good Government Junta in Oventic, where the Zapatistas greeted them with expressions of solidarity. They finished off their tour through Chiapas by taking part in a march to mark the third anniversary of the Northern Region Autonomous Council.

For more information (in Spanish):

Comunicado del FPDT

Comenzó en Acteal segunda etapa de Libertad y Justicia para Atenco (La Jornada 12/09/09)

Atenquenses en campaña para la liberación de sus presos se reúnen con la JBG de los Altos (La Jornada 13/09/09)

Abreva el FPDT en la vida zapatista en intenso encuentro en el caracol de Oventic (La Jornada 14/09/09)

El Tercer aniversario del Consejo Autónomo de la Zona Costa participa el Frente de Pueblos en Defensa de la Tierra de San Salvador Atenco. (Indymedia, 17/09/09)


Chiapas: CDHFBC employee injured by OPDDIC in armed attack

September 21, 2009

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An employee of the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas (Frayba) was brutally attacked on September 18th. The attack occurred in Ejido Jotola, in the municipality of Chilon. The attackers were armed and are members of OPDDIC – the Organization for the Defense of the Rights of Indigenous and Campesinos. Because of the seriousness of the attack, please find below the Frayba press release in its entirety.

“San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas September 18th, 2009

Press Release No. 30

Frayba employee injured by OPDDIC in armed attack

The paramilitary group Organization for the Defense of the Rights of Indigenous and Campesinos (OPDDIC) has ambushed and attacked a Frayba member and shot and injured a resident of San Sebastian Bachajon.

Today, at approximately 12 noon, Frayba employee Ricardo Lagunes Gasca was attacked while he was travelling in the area of Tila. The event occurred when Ricardo stopped in Ejido Jotola, in the municipality of Chilon, to get information for a legal action he is undertaking in his role as lawyer for Frayba. The legal action is to defend residents of San Sebastian Bachajon who have been jailed. At the time, the people of San Sebastian Bachajon were holding a work meeting with the residents of Jotola, both of whom are supporters of The Other Campaign.

After getting up to date about the situation of the prisoners Ricardo tried to leave the place in one of Frayba’s vans, but approximately 40 meters ahead the road was closed with rocks and a tree trunk. Unable to continue along the road, he was forced to stop. Ricardo was then ambushed and beaten by a group of approximately 60 people armed with sticks, rocks, machetes and guns. The attackers were all members of OPDDIC. While beating him, they forced Ricardo out of the van and took the car keys to try to take him to an unknown location.

Despite Ricardo’s attempts to talk to the OPDDIC members, the attack continued, putting his life in danger. The residents of Jotola and San Sebastian Bachajon (supporters of the Other Campaign) came to his aid and the OPDDIC attackers became distracted. Ricardo used this opportunity to flee, leaving all his belongings in the van.

After the intervention of the Other Campaign members the OPDDIC attackers reacted by shooting their guns, resulting in a bullet wound in the thigh of the left leg of Mr. Carmen Aguilar Gomez the 2nd, resident of San Sebastian Bachajon. After the gun attack, the Other Campaign members fled to avoid more confrontation with the OPDDIC. Despite this, the OPDDIC attackers surrounded the residents’ homes and threatened to come in as well as take over the main meeting hall by force.

As of 4:00 pm today (Friday) Frayba employees had received information from the residents of Ejido Jotola saying they have sought shelter in their homes. The residents have told us that approximately 20 people from OPDDIC are on guard with guns of various calibers and they have taken possession of the main meeting hall.

Background:

In the morning prior to the attack residents of Jotola saw individuals from the Preventative Police force (PEP) interviewing members of OPDDIC. According to several witnesses they could hear the OPDDIC members saying they were going to enter the main meeting hall and destroy the sign and attack the followers of the Other Campaign. Moments later, when Ricardo got in his vehicle, men and women from OPDDIC blocked the way even though our colleague identified himself as a worker from the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas.

While the residents of Jotola and Bachajon were together in the meeting hall in the morning, members of OPDDIC were gathered 40 meters away where there was a patrol of the Preventative Police (PEP). The individuals of the Preventative Police maintained a dialogue with the OPDDIC. The events occurred after a sign had been placed in the meeting hall – the same one that had been robbed by members of OPDDIC the week before.

On August 20th residents of Jotola and Bachajon who are followers of the Other Campaign held a press conference to denounce the climate if harassment and threats because of OPDDIC. It was revealed at this time that those responsible for the harassment were originally from the communities of Jotola and Bachjon. They had previously been expelled from Monte Libano and had outstanding arrest warrants for murder and rape.

Also during the press conference Nemesio Ponce Sanchez, the General undersecretary of the government, was denounced for refusing to meet with the residents who had completed their promise of meeting in the offices of Frayba. They were supposed to fix a deadline for releasing two of the eight indigenous tseltals who remain behind bars in CERSS No. 14, also known as “El Amate”. The prisoners have been accused of criminal association and armed robbery, both false accusations as revealed by Frayba.

Later that same day the residents called Frayba to report they were being harassed by members of the Preventative Police (PEP) and there were patrols set up close to their homes, and especially close to the house of the head of the cooperative land association, Pascual Sanchez Perez. Since then, the PEP has maintained permanent patrols. A the beginning of September an official source told Frayba the accusations made at the August 20th press conference bothered General undersecretary Nemesio Ponce Sanchez. Apparently Ponce Sanchez had ordered officers of the Ministerial and Preventative Police to detain Pascual Sanchez Perez, the head of the cooperative land association, and professor Ricardo Sanchez, the spokesperson for Jotola, during the press conference.

Frayba condemns this act of aggression. It is an act of aggression that has been carried out within a context of hostility as well as the targeting different actors and methods of communication that work for the defense of human rights. Frayba points out the role the State government, including that of Juan Sabines Guererro, as promoters of aggression that goes against the work of this human rights center in areas of defense and accompaniment.

List of OPDDIC attackers as identified in Jotola:

1. Agustin Hernandez Santis ? (carried and fired a shotgun)

2. Guadelupe Cruz Mendez ? (carried a .22 rifle and a pistol, fired and shot Carmen Aguilar.)

3. Medardo Cruz Mendez ? (carried a .22 rifle)

4. Miguel Gomez Hernandez ? (carried .22 rifle and 16-shot semi-automatic)

5. Manuel Moreno Perez ? (carried a machete and stick)

6. Daniel Moreno Perez ? (carried a gun)

7. Rogelio Cruz Mendez (carried a shotgun)

8. Eva Guzman Hernandez

9. Ernestina Guzman Hernandez

10. Margarita Miranda Perez

11. Marian Sanchez Sanchez

12. Ofelia Cruz Jimenez

13. Maria Hernandez Lopez

14. Maria Elena Gomez Lopez

15. Ema Maria Sanchez Gomez

16. Juana Sanchez Gomez

17. Juan Cruz Mendez ? (carried a pistol)

18. Leandro Mendez Hernandez.”

For more informationn (in Spanish):

Ataca Opddic en Chiapas a ejidatarios adherentes a la Otra Campaña (Jornada, 19/09/09)


Chiapas: Alberto Patishtan’s case generating action around the world

September 19, 2009

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Today marks nine years, two months and 29 days that Professor Alberto Patishtan Gomez has been in jail. Patishtan has been sentenced to 60 years in prison for homicide, assault, robbery and possession of firearms among other criminal charges. He is also the only political prisoner of the group “Voice of Amate” to remain behind bars after a hunger strike in 2008 led to the release of more than 300 prisoners in Chiapas, including 47 who had just completed the hunger strike.

On September 9th in San Cristobal de Las Casas an organization of ex-political prisoners and their family members called Innocent Voices, denounced the fact that “the government of Juan Sabines Guererro has made Patishtan Gomez into a political hostage.” They went on to say “despite the fact that Patishtan has shown his innocence legally through a review of records, he still hasn’t attained the freedom he deserves.”

According Innocent Voices, “the government has washed its hands of the situation, saying it’s a federal offense and they have no jurisdiction to resolve it.” They went on to say the state government calls itself “a government of justice, peace and dialogue” and always calls attention to the fact that there are no political prisoners being held unjustly, but in the end “we realize that in this is a government with little ability or political will.” Innocent Voices concluded their statement by demanding Patishtan’s immediate and unconditional release as well as the removal of any obstacles imposed on people wishing to visit him.

Alberto Patishtan’s case is generating action around the world. A few weeks ago the Swiss organization Peacewatch Switzerland carried out a campaign for his release and collected signatures that were then delivered to Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas. The Swedish organization SweFOR, Swedish Movement for Reconciliation, also began a campaign demanding his release. Signatures were collected demanding his release on September 21st in Stockholm.

For more information (in Spanish):

Denuncia de la organización de ex presos políticos y familiares Voces Inocentes (08/09/2009)

“Usa el gobierno de Juan Sabines a tzotzil como “rehen político”, denuncia ONG”, La Jornada (17/09/2009)

More information from SIPAZ:

The Voice of Amate (La Voz del Amate) Speaks (August 2009)



Chiapas: March against mining

September 19, 2009

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On September 16th, 2009 – the 199th anniversary of the independence of Mexico – more than 1000 members of the National Socialist Front (FNLS) marched from Mazapa de Madero to Motozintla in the Sierra of Chiapas. The marchers demanded respect for their position of “strong rejection to mining activity” in the region.

In a press release the FNLS pointed out that international companies operate mines in various municipalities in the Sierra. In the past few months opposition from the people has increased, especially in the municipalities of Chicomuselo, Mazapa de Madero, Motozintla and Siltepec.

A call was made for unity “because only in unity can we face the dark future brought on by the looting of our mineral resources and the complete destruction of our forests, rivers and ecosystems.”

The FNLS also denounced the harassment and threats against their members and leaders like Yolanda Castro and Daniel Luna, as well as harassment and threats against communities who are organized in opposition to mining.

For more information (in Spanish):

“Chiapas: repudian a mineras y al gobierno”, La Jornada (17/09/09)

More information from SIPAZ:

Mining in Chiapas: A New threat for the survival of indigenous peoples (december 2008)



Campeche: Attempt at a peaceful return fails in San Antonio Ebula

September 15, 2009

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On September 8th a Civil Mission for Peace made up of over 15 Mexican human rights organizations (including several from Chiapas) as well as organizations from Campeche, attempted to escort residents as they returned to their community of San Antonio Ebula. The residents had been violently thrown off their land on August 13th by businessman Eduardo Escalante, who has taken over ownership.

Private guards hired by Escalante blocked access to the disputed land and prevented the escort from going ahead. Traps with nails and planks of wood had also been set up around the area, injuring one of the members of the Civil Mission of Peace.

The Mission condemned the fact that the peaceful escort to San Antonio Ebula was blocked as well as the Campeche government’s bias in favour of Eduardo Escalante. They added that the same government has shown itself to be insensitive to the possibility that residents could be victims of parapolice groups hired by Escalante.

Faced with the prospect of not being able to return home, the displaced returned to city hall to resume the permanent sit-in they’ve staged for almost one month now. The Civil Mission for Peace said they would present a report on the irregularities of the case and bring it to the attention of those responsible.

For more information (in Spanish):

- Ver comunicado completo de la Misión de observación

- Algunos elementos sobre la represión en agosto


Chiapas: Open letter from the Abejas to Juan Sabines Guerrero, Governor of Chiapas

September 15, 2009

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In an open letter written to Governor Juan Sabine’s Guerero, the Abejas rejected the Governor’s invitation to meet with his representatives. In the letter dated September 7th, the Abejas requested that the perpetrators of the Acteal massacre of 1997 not be released. They also expressed their disagreement with the state government’s actions, which they say seek to divide their organization through offers of financial support and projects.

For more information (in Spanish)

- Carta abierta completa

- “Priva clima de división: indígenas” (artículo de La Jornada)

More information from SIPAZ:

Special report in the Case of Acteal (August 2009)


SIPAZ: Special Report on the Case of Acteal

September 7, 2009

Acteal (22/08/09) @sipaz

The Supreme Court (SCJN) Ruling: an irreproachable ruling judicially, a highly questioned decision based in the historical and actual context

On August 12, the chamber of the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) granted an appeal to 26 indigenous men incarcerated for more than 11 years and convicted of the killing of 45 indigenous people, who on December 22, 1997 were killed in the community of Acteal, municipality of Chenalhó (in the highlands of Chiapas). Twenty of them were freed the next day, while the other six will repeat the judicial process which condemned them. There remain 31 cases to be heard by the SCJN in the future, which could lead to similar rulings.

=> Read more

More information from SIPAZ:

Impunity and the responsability of Mexican Authorities in the Acteal Case (February 2008)


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