Chiapas: Las Abejas indignant over the release of 15 of those responsible for the Acteal massacre

On Friday 22 October, in observation of the monthly commemoration of the 1997 massacre, the civil organization Las Abejas of Acteal held a press-conference.  During the press-conference, José Alfredo Jiménez, president of the directive table of the organization, read aloud a communiqué written by Las Abejas regarding the recent release of 15 individuals said to have been participants in the 22 December 1997 massacre in Acteal.  The massacre left a total of 49 indigenous people killed, 4 of them not yet born.  Those released were granted the remisión parcial de la pena, and they were awarded liberty.  The communiqué of Las Abejas expresses its indignation regarding the decision of the “bad government of Juan Sabines and Felipe Calderón,” mentioning that “it is very clear that they feel a great need to release the material authors of the massacre, because there is concern and fear on the part of the massacre’s intellectual authors that the paramilitary prisoners confess that the order they received to attack and terrorize the Abejas and Zapatista communities in fact came from the bad government of Ernesto Zedillo, Emilio Chuayfet, and their collaborators.”

With the release last year of 34 prisoners previously held on the same charges, given that 49 individuals have been released out of the 80 arrested between 1997 and 1998.  Las Abejas denounced that the release of these prisoners implies the return of many of them to Acteal or nearby, meaning that the sense of insecurity among the survivors of the massacre has increased.  Las Abejas explain that “given this situation, we don’t know what will happen to us, because it bothers them that we continue to denounce the paramilitaries and that the world knows that the weapons used in the massacre are now buried in communities, since the government never carried out the disarmament that we have long called for.”

For its part, the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights released a communiqué on the question, expressing its take on the strategy of the government in its attempt to bury the Acteal events: “the protection of the Mexican State for the perpetrators of the massacre is clear and resounding, given its insistence on covering up the events of 22 December 1997, the day on which this crime of state occurred, with the result of denying the actions taken by paramilitary groups in the Highlands and North of Chiapas during the internal armed conflict that is to date unresolved, in which the strategy of counterinsurgency was made clear.” The Center also stressed the lack of commitment among public functionaries in investigating the events: “The protection extends from the investigation to the intellectual authors of the massacre, all of whom were public officials during that time: Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de León, president of the Republic; Emilio Chuayfett, Secretary of Governance; Mario Renán Castillo, commander of the Seventh Military Region; General Enrique Cervantes, Secretary for National Defense; Julio Cesar Ruiz Ferro, governor of the state of Chiapas; Homero Tovilla Cristiani, Secretary of Government of the State of Chiapas; Uriel Jarquín Gálvez, Subsecretary of the State Government of Chiapas; among others.”

For more information:

Las Abejas of Acteal pronounce themselves on the recent release of material authors of the Acteal massacre (Las Abejas, 22 October)

15 individuals responsible for the Acteal massacre are released (Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Center for Human Rights, 21 October)

Video of Las Abejas’ press-conference:

Las Abejas call for the further release of those responsible for the Acteal massacre to be avoided (La Jornada, 23 October)

Arizmendi criticizes the incremental release of indigenous individuals sentenced for the Acteal case (Noticias México, 17 October)

The release of 15 more indigenous individuals is carried out (Cuarto Poder, 15 October)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Las Abejas’ day for justice and truth (13 August 2010)

Chiapas: Communiqué of Las Abejas of Acteal in observation of the monthly commemoration of the 1997 massacre (25 de junio)

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