Chiapas: Organizations and social movements descend on San Cristobal to call for justice

October 31, 2009

On Monday October 26th, 2009, the Cathedral Square in San Cristobal de Las Casas was the scene of much activity and mobilization as three organizations and social movements arrived in the center of town, one after another. The three groups – the “community of Faith (Pueblo Creyente)–Tzotzil Region, The Other Campaign, and the Emiliano Zapata Campesina Organization-Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC) – each had distinct demands that came down to the same basic message: there is no justice in Chiapas. Some demanded that “paramilitaries” charged in the Acteal Massacre remain in jail, while others asked for the release of social leaders who have been “arbitrarily detained.”

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The Community of Faith–Tzotzil Region had organized a “Pilgrimage for Peace and real Justice” in solidarity with the Acteal Abejas. Together they called on the Supreme Court of Mexico to refrain from freeing any more of the prisonners accused as material perpetrators of the Acteal massacre of 1997. Five hundred people from the Highlands of Chiapas participated. At the end of the pilgrimage, mass was celebrated in the Cathedral by the Bishop of San Cristobal, Father Enrique Diaz Diaz, along with parish priests from the area.

According to journalists’ sources the Supreme Court of Mexico is expected to make a decision in the cases of 31 prisoners in jail for their participation in the Acteal Massacre of December 22nd, 1997. The media has reported that some of the prisoners could be released for violations to their human rights during the court process, despite the fact that Abejas members have identified them as material perpetrators of the crime. If the prisoners are released, they would add to the 20 persons who were already released August 12th as a result of another Supreme Court decision.

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During the morning of October 26th about 200 Other Campaign followers – the majority indigenous – gathered at the San Cristobal bus terminal to begin a march into the city. They demanded the release of political prisoners, referring in particular to prisoners from the Front for the People in Defense of the Land (FPDT) in San Salvador Atenco (Estado de Mexico), the Civil Resistance Movement of non-payment for electric energy from Candelaria (Campeche), two tseltal members of the Other Campaign from San Sebastian Bachajon (Chiapas) and Alberto Patishtan, from the Voice of El Amate (Chiapas). The march, which was carried out as part of a national mobilization organized by the Other Campaign, came to an end in the Cathedral Square after the mass of the Community of Faith. Residents of the communities of San Sebastian Bachajon and Jotola, among others, also took the opportunity to speak to those gathered.

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While Other Campaign followers were still carrying out their meeting, 100 members of the Campesina Organization Emiliano Zapata – Carranza Region (OCEZ-RC) arrived at the Cathedral. They demanded the release of three of their “compañeros” who are presently jailed, as well as a stop to all harassment by the state government toward their organization. They announced the beginning of a sit-in in the Cathedral Square as a pressure tactic to resolve their demands, beginning October 26th for an indefinite period of time.

OCEZ said that ever since the arrest of one of their leaders, Jose Manuel Hernandez Martinez, on September 30th, the harassment in their communities has been relentless. At dawn on October 24th the Attorney General of State Justice (PGJE) arrested other members of their group: Roselio de la Cruz Gonzalez and Jose Manuel de la Torre Hernandez were arrested without being served arrest warrants. On October 25th a joint military and police search for drugs and firearms was carried out in Laguna Verde. Laguna Verde, along with neighbouring community 28 de Junio, are communities where members of OCEZ-RC live. Out of fear for their lives the residents had asked for the presence of human rights observers who were witnesses during the raid and concluded that no illicit objects were found.

For more information:

On the Pilgrimage of the Community of Faith and ‘Las Abejas’

Comunicado de Las Abejas de la conferencia de prensa del 22 de octubre 2009

La SCJN resolverá este miércoles sobre los recursos pendientes del caso Acteal (La Jornada 27/10/09)

Se manifiestan contra la SCJN… (Expreso de Chiapas 27/10/09)

On the Other Campaign March

ONG exigen la liberación de los presos políticos en el país (La Jornada (27/10/09)

On OCEZ-RC

Comunicado de la OCEZ-RC: En la madrugada detienen a dos miembros de la OCEZ Carranza la policía

Acción Urgente del Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas

Exige la OCEZ libertad para 3 de sus dirigentes (La Jornada 27/10/09)

For more information from SIPAZ

Journey of the “Community of faith”: Reflection and action on a changing reality (August 2009)

Special Report on the Case of Acteal (August 30, 2009) – The Supreme Court (SCJN) Ruling: an irreproachable ruling judicially, a highly questioned decision based in the historical and actual context

Chiapas: The Abejas Denounce the Harassment of the Chiapas Government (october 2009)

Chiapas: Prisoner forced to transfer to maximum-security prison in Tepic, Nayarit (october 2009)

Chiapas: OCEZ leader from the Venustiano Carranza Region captured(october 2009)




Oaxaca: NGOs present their diagnosis of human rights work

October 31, 2009

diagnostico

On October 14th, several human rights organizations presented a report on the situation of human rights workers in Oaxaca. The document contained information compiled in 2008 and the first half of 2009, and highlighted that fact that human rights work is criminalized and subject to persecution.

 

The report called “A Diagnosis of the Situation of Human Rights Workers in Oaxaca” was released with a press communiqué that denounced “the increase in abuse against human rights workers registered by NGOs, with more frequent cases of intimidation and harassment, as well as an increase in more serious crimes like assault, threats to personal safety, illegal detentions, defamation, discrediting, legal persecution, and others, with the goal of preventing the work of human rights workers to defend and promote human rights and report infringements on those rights.”

 

Written by Peace Watch Switzerland, the report is based on interviews with 17 organizations working in the defense and promotion of human rights. The report covers subjects such as Impunity, Criminalization of Social Protest, Militarization, Rupture of the Social Fabric, Agricultural Conflict, the Defense of Natural Resources as well as the Electoral Process Leading to 2010. In addition, the report reveals the need for coordination between human rights organizations in order to create “a ‘Working Space for Human Rights Defenders’ where they can share intervention methods as well as monitor the pattern of attacks against human rights workers who promote, defend or organize to demand the validity of human rights.” So far this space is made up of the Consortium for Parliamentary Dialogue A.C., Bartolome Carrasco Briseno Human Rights Center A.C., the Mexican Human Rights League A.C., Alternative Education Services A.C., the 25th of November Committee A.C., and the Miguel Agustin Pro Human Rights Center A.C.

For more information (in Spanish):


Campeche: National Meeting for the Liberation of Political Prisoners of Candelaria, Campeche

October 27, 2009

Imagen de la conformación de la Red Nacional de Resistencia Civil a las Altas Tarifas de la Energía Eléctrica, mayo de 2009

On September 13th, 14th, and 15th, the National Meeting for the Liberation of Political Prisoners of Candelaria was held in Campeche, in the capital of the same state, in solidarity with the five prisoners of Candelaria and the villagers of San Antonio Ébula, all from the state of Campeche. The five detainees from the “Movement in opposition to high electrical energy prices” in Candelaria who had been violently detained this past July 10th, accused of kidnapping, among other crimes, were freed on bail on September 23rd.

The meeting, in which six national organizations and twenty-eight organizations from nine Mexican states participated, among them several from the state of Chiapas, also brought solidarity with the villagers of San Antonio Ébula, who have been deprived of their own land by people contracted by the local businessman Eduardo Escalante with the complicity of the state government.

In the public pronouncement made at the end of the meeting, they emphasized that the encarcerated of Candelaria are “political prisoners of conscience because they have been deprived of their freedom for defending the rights of the people,” since they demand a just rate for electrical energy service. Moreover, the participants of the meeting denounced the conduct of the law enforcement authorities who, “have violated the human rights of our ‘compañeros’ . . . and, above all, have been clear in criminalizing civil disobedience and any other kind of organization that tries to defend the rights of the people.” They announced that they will take action to pressure and demand the freedom of the detainees. This means that a large part of the organizations participating in the meeting will become part of the National Network of Civil Resistance to High Electrical Energy Prices, which was formed last May in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, and who have made mutual solidarity one of their principles in the vein of “One for all and all for one.”

In this context, Elmer Castellanos Velázquez and Guadalupe Lizcano Gómez were freed on bail due to the resolution of their legal defense’s appeal. Sara López González, Joaquín Aguilar Méndez and Guadalupe Borjas Contreras are still in jail, each of whom are from the Candelaria “Movement in opposition to high electrical energy prices.”

For more information (in Spanish)

PRONUNCIAMIENTO POLITICO DEL ENCUENTRO NACIONAL POR LA LIBERACION DE LOS PRESOS POLITICOS DE CANDELARIA

Acción Urgente: Libertad inmediata e incondicional a l@s pres@s políticos de Candelaria, Campeche

 


Chiapas: Prisoner forced to transfer to maximum-security prison in Tepic, Nayarit

October 26, 2009

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On October 16th Jose Manuel Hernandez Martinez (“Don Chema”) was unexpectedly transferred to a maximum-security prison in Tepic, Nayarit. The transfer was done with a strong police presence, with state and federal police assisting in moving him from El Amate, the prison in Chiapas where he had been held since his detention on September 30th.

The Chiapas government sub-secretary, Nemesio Ponce Sanchez, confirmed the transfer to the prisoner’s family and friends, who had not been informed in advance. The sub-secretary said the transfer of Hernandez Martinez was “for his own security.” The sub-secretary also said anybody wishing to visit him in the far-away state would be eligible for airline tickets paid for by the government.

In a public statement the Campesina Organization Emiliano Zapata (OCEZ), based in the Carranza region, brought attention to the transfer of Don Chema and the deaths of two cooperative landowners who were present during the arrest of their leader (the first died immediately, the other on October 17th.) According to OCEZ “the saddest part of this situation is that from the beginning our organization signed agreements of political civility and governability… and during this process they detained Jose Manuel Hernandez Martinez. We started a series of actions against the state government because for us, his arrest was a betrayal of the agreements signed.” The statement concluded by saying, “Given the situation, we place responsibility on Governor Juan Sabines because this is a blow to our organization and to social struggle in the state of Chiapas.”

For the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas, this transfer represents a “way to punish him and his family.” They denounced this action and said “the State violated the Principles and Best Practices for People Deprived of Freedom in the Americas, which states that transfers of incarcerated people should be authorized and supervised by competent authorities who will respect, in all circumstances, dignity and fundamental rights and who will take into account the need for incarcerated people to be in locations near their families, communities and legal representatives… Transfers should not be done with the intention to punish, reprimand or discriminate against incarcerated persons, their families or friends.”

In a communiqué the National Front for the Fight for Socialism reported Hernandez Martinez’s transfer “is due to political revenge and wanting to put him in solitary confinement like they did in CERSS 14 El Amate, which goes against his constitutional and human rights as well as due process.”

For more information:

Boletín de prensa de la OCEZ-Región Carranza

Boletín del Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas: Traslado Forzoso de José Manuel Hernández Martínez, líder de la OCEZ

Boletín informativo del FNLS sobre traslado arbitrario de José Manuel Hernández Martínez (Chema) al penal de máxima seguridad de Nayarit.

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas: OCEZ leader from the Venustiano Carranza Region captured


Oaxaca: Supreme Court decision in Oaxaca case

October 23, 2009

La Policía Federal Preventiva en la ciudad de Oaxaca en 2006 Fuente: www.dokumentarfoto.de

On October 14th the Supreme Court of Mexico (SCJN) made a decision regarding human rights violations by authorities during the Oaxaca conflict of 2006 and 2007. The decision finds the governor at the time, Ulises Ruiz Ortiz, responsible for human rights violations.

With a vote of seven to four, the Supreme Court holds the Oaxacan governor responsible for human rights violations committed by state police during the conflict that lasted from May 2006 until June 2007. However, a proposal submitted by Ministers Juan N. Silva Meza, Jose de Jesus Gudino Pelayo and Jose Ramon Cossio was rejected. Their proposal sought to include Vicente Fox, then president of Mexico, as well as Minister of the Interior, Carlos Abascal and Public Security Minister, Eduardo Medina Mora in the list of those responsible for allowing an unmanageable situation that exposed the population to situations that put their human rights at risk. The Supreme Court Minister Jose Ramon Cossio said now it will be up to Felipe Calderon and the Mexican Congress to decide whether or not they will proceed with a political trial against the Oaxacan Governor.

Ruiz Ortiz said he disagrees with the Supreme Court decision, calling into question whether or not Fox should have been included. Members of the Popular Assembly for the People of Oaxaca (APPO), who had asked for Ruiz Ortiz’s resignation during the conflict, insisted on the Oaxacan governor’s responsibility for human rights violations. The Secretary of section 22 of the National Education Workers Union (SNTE) Gabriel Lopez Chinas, said the ex-secretary general Jorge Franco Vargas and the ex-public attorney Rosa Lizbeth Cana Cadeza should also be put to trial for being the operators “of unlimited repression against the Oaxacan people.” Section 22 of the SNTE – which brings together teachers from all over Oaxaca – suffered repression from the state government on June 14th, 2006. That repression resulted in the creation of the APPO, which integrated different social, political and indigenous organizations that confronted state authorities during the second half of 2006 to demand the resignation of the governor, whom they accused of suppressing social, political and indigenous organizations.

For more information:

More Information from SIPAZ:

THE SOCIO-POLITICAL SITUATION AND HUMAN RIGHTS VIOLATIONS IN OAXACA (August 2007) 



Chiapas: The Abejas Denounce the Harassment of the Chiapas Government

October 23, 2009

On October 12, during a press conference that took place in the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas (Frayba) headquarters, the Civil Society of the Abejas (Bees) denounced acts of harassment committed on behalf of the state government. They also expressed much anguish and indignation before the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation (SCJN) makes the possible decision to release 31 prisoners that were sentenced as perpetrators of the Acteal Massacre, which took place on December 22, 1997.

The organization of the survivors of the Acteal Massacre stated in a press bulletin that governor Juan Sabines Guerrero had requested a meeting with the board of directors of the Abejas. Despite the Abejas’ refusal, the state government continued to insist on meeting with the directors of the organization by going through the bishop of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Fraybaand the Mexican representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights of the United Nations, Alberto Brunori. According to the Abejas, there has recently been “suspicious people dropping by the Office of the Abejas of Acteal, on several occasions” who would not identify themselves and who insisted on speaking with the directors of the organization, presumably regarding the delivery of a Virgin of Guadalupe, and other such things. The Abejas also denounced reports made by several local newspapers that they were linked to an arms trafficker arrested recently in Yabteclum, a community near Acteal. Those medias implied that the Abejas organization was seeking vengeance on the prisoners released in August 2009.

The “Abejas” also alerted that the Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation might take a decision in the case of the 31 prisoners condemned for the massacre during this month of October. According to journalistic sources, this resolution was postponed until the end of the month. If the defense’s request for protection (Amparo) was accepted,these prisoners would be liberated just like the 20 that were released last August. The Abejas insisted that “the Acteal Massacre in 1997 was due to political conflict, and responding to power and money interests. Although Ernesto Zedillo, Emilio Chuayffet, Gen. Enrique Cervantes and Gen. Renan Castillo weren’t responsible for the actual killings in Acteal, they were the ones who planned the counterinsurgency strategy including the training of the paramilitaries who would be entrusted to instill fear and terror in the Zapatistas and the Pacific Organization of the Abejas of Chenalhó en Chiapas”.

For more information:

Denuncia de Las Abejas (pdf) (12/10/09)

Fotos de la conferencia de prensa (12/10/09)

Audios de la conferencia de prensa (12/10/09)

La Jornada: “Denuncia Las Abejas intento oficial de involucrarla con grupos armados” (14/10/09)

Acción Urgente: Posible liberación de 31 personas reconocidas como responsables de la Masacre de Acteal (Frayba) (pdf) (05/10/09)

More  información from SIPAZ:

Boletín informativo especial sobre el Caso Acteal: Fallo de la SCJN – Una resolución irreprochable desde lo jurídico, una decisión altamente cuestionada desde el contexto histórico y actual- 30 de agosto de 2009


Chiapas Forum: “Women’s Perspectives on Militarization”

October 20, 2009

foro mujeres y militarizacion

On October 2nd and 3rd, various organizations, among them SIPAZ, convened a forum on Women’s Perspectives on Militarization, which was held at CIDECI-Unitierra, in the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas. About 160 women from Guatemala, Honduras, Chihuahua, Mexico City, Guerrero, and elsewhere participated along with those from the communities of Chiapas. Between lectures and table discussions, the women shared their ideas, sorrow, bravery, resistance, struggles, complaints, and injustices that their organizations and communities are enduring.

In the final declaration of the event, they stated:

“The increase, in the last decade, of militarization, para-militarization, and drug-militarization in Latin America has worsened violations of human rights, the most recent examples of which being the coup in Honduras and the installation of seven United States military bases in Colombia which signify, on the one hand, the weakening development of the fledgling democracies in Latin America, and, on the other, the strengthening of militarization as a means of control through the use of weapons, protests and proposals of social improvement through the neoliberal capitalist system in which poverty, corruption and violence are its principal expressions.

In this context, women will continue being used as the plunders of war, hostages, shields, forced to take place in activities that violate our dignity. The militarization seeks to appropriate our thoughts, spirits, families and territories. Today, we live in a militarized society in which power, coercion and violence are reproduced as a way of life.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Boletín de prensa del 2 de octubre

Pronunciamiento del Foro Perspectivas de las Mujeres ante la Militarización

Audios (in Spanish):

ponencias 2 de octubre

ponencias 3 de octubre

participaciones

capsúla radiofónica


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