On November 24, 2010, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (Frayba) denounced recent acts in the city of San Cristóbal de las Casas, that put the lives and safety of human rights defender Margarita Guadalupe Martínez Martínez at risk along with other members of the Center’s team.
Margarita Martínez’ testimony concerns the following: “today, after having obtained an interview with an official at the Mexican Office of the United Nations High Commission, I went to a café located in the city center to get something to drink. Upon leaving the café I looked for the person assigned to me (Margarita has been granted cautionary measures recommended by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) but I did not find him. So I walked down the block and it was there that two people intercepted me, one was in a white Ranger truck without license plates and the other was on foot. The latter told me to walk two blocks where I would find a person who would give me further instructions.”
Margarita goes on to say, “I walked to the place indicated, they had threatened to kill me if I did not follow through with the instructions, and when I arrived there an individual gave me a piece of paper withe letters cut out of a newspaper that said: ‘Diego the life/ of this family/ is in your hands/ you will face charges/ Fucking [human rights] defenders.” Afterwards he told me to take it to Frayba because they are fucking shitty assholes. They just go around destabilizing the State, justifying their work as supposedly in favor of those most in need, in favor of justice. What justice? Justice my ass.”
After demanding that I deliver further threats to other members of Frayba, he told me to walk a few blocks away and take a taxi to the municipal cemetery “so that you can chat with your dead because you will be meeting them soon.” Then he told me to take a taxi toward the market “without making any stupid moves because you’re a dead person.”
Margarita was followed by the white truck to be sure that she complied with the instructions given to her; however, upon arriving at the city center she was able to lose her aggressors in the traffic. She then continued on to the Frayba offices. The police officers who were responsible for her security stated that they never left the café where Margarita had stopped. They claimed they had been standing guard at the doors of the café and that they never saw her leave.
It is important to point out that the very next day, the United Nation’s Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), publicly presented their report on the current situation facing human rights defenders in Mexico which points out that the states of Chihuahua, Chiapas, Oaxaca and Guerrero head the list in aggressions. From September 2009 to October 2010, 37 human rights defenders have been threatened, beaten and arbitrarily detained; seven have been disappeared and five have died at the hands of authorities and organized crime.
Javier Hernández, representative of the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Mexico, stated that the seriousness of the situation is that the very same municipal authorities, military personnel or those charged with imparting justice are those that threaten the security of the human rights defenders. He added that in the current climate of “insecurity and violence, it is indispensible that the Mexican State provide adequate guarantees for [human rights] defenders” since it is their obligation to investigate and punish those responsible, in addition to providing reparations for the damages suffered by those affected. However, the government has not complied with its responsibility as illustrated by the impunity which is a factor that “increases the risk” to human rights defenders and places them in an “indefensible and unprotected” situation.
On the same day, November 25, the OHCHR also published a public pronouncement in which it condemned the aggression against human rights defender Margarita Martínez. “It is disturbing and alarming that this type of aggression has occurred despite her having a police escort, after meeting with us, two days after having visited with the ACAT delegates and at almost the exact moment that the Office, in unison with the National Human Rights Commission and Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, made public our concern for the critical situation faced by human rights defenders in Mexico,” said Javier Hernández Valencia.
Para más información:
– Acción Urgente: Amenazas de muerte, hostigamiento a Defensora de Derechos Humanos, a integrantes y director del Frayba (Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, 25 de noviembre)
– OACNUDH condena la agresión en contra de la defensora de derechos humanos Margarita Martínez en Chiapas (Oficina en México del Alto Comisionado de las Naciones Unidas para los Derechos Humanos , 25 de noviembre)
– Nota informativa urgente (Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, 24 de noviembre)
– En aumento, número de agresiones a defensores de derechos humanos en México: OACDH(La Jornada, 25 de noviembre)
– ONU: un año, 37 ataques a defensores de derechos (Milenio, 25 de noviembre)
– Actualización 2010: informe sobre la situación de las y los defensores de derechos humanos en México (OACNUDH, noviembre de 2010)
More Information from SIPAZ:
– Chiapas: a year of impunity in the case of aggression against human-rights defenders (11/11/2010)