Chiapas: concern regarding threats faced by human rights defenders

In the last few weeks, we have noticed with more and more concern an increasing amount of threats faced by human rights defenders in San Cristóbal de Las Casas. The current situation reminds us of the events that occurred in 2006, especially in relation to La Otra Campaña, whereby members of the various movements and organization in the city faced similar situations of threat, all of which remain unresolved.

FACTS:

On the 2nd, 3rd and 4th May, a rare and disproportionate group of municipal police gathered outside the house of Daniel Luna Alcántara, member of the Frente Nacional de Lucha por el Socialismo (FNLS).

On the 7th, 11th, 14th and 18th of June various members of the municipal police, accompanied by a number of unknown vehicles, circulated the area within which Daniel Luna Alcántara lives. On various occasions, the FNLS took photos of the vehicles and took the details of the registration plates. In November 2008 there were a number of raids against members of the FNLS that occurred exactly after a press conference given by the FNLS during which they criticized members of the state and federal government.

On the 14th, 15th and 16th of June, the Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas (CDHFBC) reported having suffered threats by various unknown agents. It was reported that there were various vehicles without number plates stationed outside the house of the director of CDHFBC, Diego Cadenas Gordillo, as well as in the surrounding areas of the organization. At various moments it was noted that there were individuals inside the vehicles that were taking recording videos and taking photos of the centre, its building and of those who work there. At one moment, on the 16th June, Diego Cadenas approached a vehicle and asked those inside: “why are you following me?” The driver of the vehicle responded: “I’m not following you; I’m waiting for my sister”. Diego asked him, “Are you from the organization CISEN?” The man laughed and responded that he wasn’t. Diego and another member of CDHFBC tried to take photos with their mobile phones of the three men in the vehicle. The men subsequently covered their faces with their hats and the driver got his camera out and started taking more photos.

On the 19th June the director of CDHFBC noticed that a two people in a vehicle were watching him and taking photos with a camera. The behavior of the two individuals inside the vehicle suggested that they wanted Diego Cadenas to realize that he was being watched.

On the 15th and 18th June, the director general of Maderas del Pueblo del Sureste, Miguel Angel García Aguirre, received a number of phonecalls from a member of the ARIC, Unión de Uniones Histórica, warning him that he had a pending criminal sentence due to his involvement and support of armed groups based in the forest. Miguel Angel García Aguirre was urged to talk to Dr. Noel Rodas, the Technical Secretary of the State Government of Chiapas in order to clarify the issue. However, during the conversation with Dr. Noel Rodas, no clear information was given that could indicate that Miguel Angel García Aguirre had a pending criminal sentence. Furthermore, Dr. Noel Rodas asked Miguel Angel García Aguirre whether Daniel Luna Alcántara, member of the FNLS, had been involved in the organization of discussions about Montes Azules. It seemed as though he was trying to obtain contact details within the organization Maderas del Pueblo and to find out the specific dates of when Miguel Angel García was going to be in Chiapas.

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