Guerrero: Threats Against Member of “The Other Disappeared”

April 9, 2016

Disappeared.pngMember of “The Other Disappeared” during the searches. Photo: @Revolución Tres Punto Cero.

Mario Vergara, member of the Search Committee of the “The Other Disappeared” (Los Otros Desaparecidos), reported an increase in threats against his person and family by organized crime. The Other Disappeared is made up of over 500 families that have a missing relative, who organize to find their disappeared loved ones. On Sundays they gather in the hills of and surroundings of Iguala, in the state of Guerrero, to locate hidden graves and bodies. “Recently we have found many bones of our disappeared relatives, we are experiencing something horrible”, Vergara declared. It should be pointed out that since its establishment until now, they have found more than 90 graves with some 140 bodies and hundreds of incomplete remains. Of these, 15 have been identified.

As the Committee pointed out, ” we don’t seek justice, nor who killed our relatives, we only want to get the body back, the bones, to give them a burial.” Despite this, they have received threats since it was founded in November 2014. “Many people have threatened us and the threats have become harder”, Vergara claimed. The activist asked for cautionary measures to protect him and his family, which were denied as “there were not sufficient grounds” to grant them according to Pueblo Guerrero. The Committee member expresses the opinion that, “delinquency is unstoppable, they continue to kidnap, disappear people, collect protection money. What the government says about implementing security programs and that violence rates have dropped are lies […] on the contrary, it is getting worse.” In February of this year, Norma Angelica Bruno, member of The Other Disappeared, was killed. It should be noted that the official figures from the National Register of Lost or Missing People indicate that there are currently more than 27 thousand missing people throughout the Republic. Moreover, it is suspected that this figure could be higher as only cases that are under investigation by the Public Prosecutor are registered. According to United Forces for Our Disappeared in Mexico (FUNDEM in its Spanish acronym), only one in every nine disappearances is reported. “Mexico is a huge mass grave”, Javier Sicilia, member of the Movement for Peace with Justice and Dignity (MPJD in its Spanish acronym) stated.

For more information in Spanish:

“El jefe te va a chingar a ti y a toda tu familia”, amenazan a familiares que buscan a sus desaparecidos en Iguala (Revolución Tres Punto Cero, 5 de abril de 2016)

Los Otros Desaparecidos hallan restos humanos en fosas clandestinas en Iguala (El Financiero, 4 de abril de 2016)

Amenaza crimen organizado a “Los Otros Desaparecidos” de Iguala (Agencia Periodística de Investigación, 1 de abril de 2016)

“Los Otros Desparecidos” denuncian amenazas de crimen organizado (SDP Noticias, 1 de abril de 2016)

 

For more information from SIPAZ:

Guerrero: Asesinan en Iguala a la activista Norma Angélica Bruno (26 de febrero de 2016)

Nacional: Manifestaciones dentro y fuera del país por el primer aniversario de la desaparición forzada de los 43 estudiantes de Ayotzinapa (29 de septiembre de 2015)


Guerrero: Phone threats to Community Development Workshop (TADECO)

April 1, 2016

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The coordinator of the Community Development Workshop (TADECO), Javier Monroy Hernandez, reported receiving threatening phone calls through a statement. In one call, a man said he was from the Michoacan Knights Templar drug cartel and asked, “if he wanted to be treated as a friend or an enemy.” According to TADECO, although it could be a case of common extortion, “it seems strange to us that we should be victims of threats at a time that we are carrying out activities in favor of victims of social violence, as recently we held an event to remember our colleague Jorge Gabriel Ceron Silva, nine years after his disappearance and on a national level we took part in the process of elaboration of a Law on Forced Disappearance and Disappearance for the full recognition of the rights of the victims of these crimes and their families.”

It is worth remembering that this organization had experienced harassment and threats since 2009, after the establishment of the Committee of Relatives and Friends of the Kidnapped, Disappeared and Murdered of Guerrero. Since that date, TADECO has had an information point evicted, been asked for protection money, been arrested, received threats, been subjected to aggression, assault, received anonymous messages, along with the minimization or omission [of these events] by the authorities and defamation in the media.

“We do not know the origin of these threats and given that it is not the first time, we place the responsibility for the physical integrity of our colleague Javier Monroy and other members of our Association on the authorities.” They asked for solidarity from the people of Guerrero, along with the intervention of human rights groups and authorities to guarantee that they can continue to carry out their work “of support, orientation, assessment and accompaniment for the victims of social violence and for community development in the state.”

For more information in Spanish:

Denuncia director de Tadeco amenazas de presuntos Caballeros Templarios; responsabiliza al gobierno (El Sur, 30 de marzo de 2016)

Denuncia Tadeco amenazas por medio de llamadas telefónicas (La Jornada de Guerrero, 30 de marzo de 2016)

COMUNICADO SOBRE AMENAZAS A INTEGRANTE DE NUESTRA ASOCIACIÓN, EL TALLER DE DESARROLLO COMUNITARIO (Resistencia Creativa, 30 de marzo de 2016)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Guerrero: Denuncia TADECO hostigamiento hacia Javier Monroy (1 de diciembre de 2014)

Guerrero: TADECO sigue sin módulo en la Plaza Cívica de Chilpancingo e integrante cumple 5 años de desaparición (2 de abril de 2012)


National: Government rejects visit of UN Rapporteur for Torture

April 1, 2016

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Photo @ Desinformémonos

Having noted that torture is “a generalized practice in Mexico”, the Special Rapporteur for Torture of the United Nations Organization (UNO), Juan E. Mendez, has been denied a new visit to Mexico this year. The rapporteur sought a follow-up visit from September 2015, considering that his mandate finishes in October 2016. The government, through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Secretaría de Relaciones Exteriores – SRE), rejected the request arguing that visits by other experts are already scheduled and he cannot be included before October when his mission ends. Later the SRE changed this version and said that “the visit cannot be agreed until the law against torture is approved by Congress.” Senator Angelica de la Peña Gomez recalled that last October, the President of the Republic, Enrique Peña Nieto, presented an initiative for a projected decree to expedite the General Law to Prevent and Sanction Crimes of Torture or other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatments and Punishments, which was criticized by other civil society organizations because “it doesn’t go far enough to eradicate this practice.” The senator stressed that “to eliminate the practice of torture in this country, its existence needs to be recognized first.”

It is worth remembering that in March 2015, Juan E. Mendez presented the report compiled after his visit to Mexico in April and May 2014, which was immediately disqualified by federal officials, who said it was “lacking professionalism and ethics.” Following the intervention of the expert, the Mexican Ambassador to the UN, Jorge Lomonaco, categorically denied his observations. “I can only reiterate that we do not share the view that torture is generalized in the country because it does not correspond to the reality”, Lomonaco claimed.

For more information in Spanish:

Se niega gobierno mexicano a recibir a Relator contra la Tortura de la ONU (Desinformémonos, 28 de marzo de 2016)

México aceptará al relator de la ONU contra la tortura hasta que el Congreso apruebe nueva ley: SRE (Eme Equis, 28 de marzo de 2016)

Gobierno de Peña Nieto rechaza visita del relator sobre tortura de la ONU (Aristegui Noticias, 26 de marzo de 2016)

Senado debe iniciar ya debate de Ley General contra la Tortura: Angelica de la Peña (El Sol de México, 16 de febrero de 2016)

Ley general contra la tortura (6 de febrero de 2016)

Relator especial alerta de tortura, malos tratos e impunidad en México (Centro de Información de las Naciones Unidas, 9 de marzo de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Nacional: Dudas de organismos de la sociedad civil por la iniciativa de Ley contra la Tortura (9 de febrero de 2016)

Chiapas: Gobierno de Chiapas niega investigar casos de tortura en sus penales (1 de octubre de 2015)

Nacional: 20 ONG critican el proceso para crear la Ley General contra la Tortura (7 de septiembre de 2015)

 

 


National/International: PGR opens investigation into Emilio Alvarez Icaza, IACHR Executive Secretary

March 31, 2016

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Emilio Alvarez Icaza, Executive Secretary of CIDH (@oas.org)

In a statement on March 29, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights denounced “a smear campaign in Mexico” against its Executive Secretary, Emilio Alvarez Icaza (Mexican) and against the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (IGIE). The Organization of American States (OAS) rejected “in the strongest manner” the preliminary investigation of Alvarez Icaza for the alleged offense of fraud to the detriment of the Mexican State regarding the work of the IGIE. It further said that the preliminary investigation “was rash and groundless” and that it backed the work of its Executive Secretary, “who at all times acted in accordance with the decisions and instructions of the members of the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.”

It is worth remembering that in 2014, the IACHR signed an assistance convention with the Mexican Government and with representatives of the 43 student teachers from the training college at Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, who were victims of forced disappearance. This led to the formation of the IGIE, whose aim was to investigate what happened to the student teachers at Iguala, Guerrero, on September 26, 2014. The report of the investigation and the first conclusions of the IGIE, presented in September 2015, pointed out “irregularities, inconsistencies, and/or gaps in the investigation of the facts.” Since that moment, human rights organizations have pointed to the existence of a media and political campaign to diminish the legitimacy and recognition that the work of the IGIE has achieved.

For his part, Alvarez Icaza confirmed on social media that “the preliminary investigation against me has a chilling effect on human rights defenders and if it persists, it is an regression to authoritarian Mexico” and that “it is unprecedented that on the one hand the Mexican State works with the IGIE and on the other hand initiates a preliminary investigation for supposed fraud.”

For more information in Spanish:

Inicia PGR averiguación contra Emilio Álvarez Icaza, secretario ejecutivo de la CIDH por fraude (MVS Noticias, 23 de marzo de 2016)

CIDH rechaza categóricamente campaña de desprestigio en México contra el GIEI y el Secretario Ejecutivo (Comunicado de prensa, CIDH, 29 de marzo de 2016)

La CIDH acusa a la PGR de abrir una investigación “infundada” contra Emilio Álvarez Icaza (Sin Embargo, 29 de marzo de 2016)

Averiguación contra mí es un regreso al México autoritario: Álvarez Icaza (Animal Político, 30 de marzo de 2016)

 For more information from SIPAZ :

Guerrero: ONG y expertos en derechos humanos respaldan labor del GIEI en caso Ayotzinapa (25 de enero de 2016)

Nacional: CIDH culminó visita “in loco” en México y presentó primeras conclusiones (8 de octubre de 2015)

Guerrero: Grupo de Expertos sobre caso Ayotzinapa presenta su informe a 6 meses (7 de septiembre de 2015)

Guerrero: Caso Ayotzinapa es desaparición forzada, confirman expertos de la CIDH (24 de marzo de 2015)

 


Chiapas: Indigenous leader murdered in San Cristobal de Las Casas

March 30, 2016

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Commemoration in Peace Square. Photo: @El Universal

On March 24, Juan Carlos Jimenez Velasco, leader of the Independent Confederation of Organizations of Civil Association (Confederación Independiente de Organizaciones Asociación Civil – CIO-AC) and member of the National Coordination of Education Workers (CNTE), was found dead in San Cristobal de Las Casas. According to a CNTE report, the 35-year-old teacher was murdered by a group of hooded persons while in his vehicle. Jimenez Velasco “led the struggle of 50 families expelled from the Santa Catarina Colony in San Cristobal de Las Casas, by members of the Association of Leaseholders of the Traditional Market of that city (ALMETRACH) and the Coordination of Organizations for the Environment for a Better Chiapas (COMACH).” The CNTE indicated that the expulsion of the families was the result of an order from the Town Hall. Jimenez Velasco took part in the takeover of some 20 hectares of land of the former Indigenous National Institute (INI) more than three years ago. This resulted in a dispute over these lands and some months ago the victim and his family received various death threats. According to official sources, “the authorities had set up a negotiating table to try to find a solution to the dispute over the lands, but the groups against Jimenez Velasco broke [the dialogue] and threatened him with death, so they had him in their sights until they killed him.”

The Attorney General for Justice for the State has made no arrests nor identified the killers to date. Teachers from Chiapas blamed ALMETRACH along with the Town Hall of San Cristobal and the state and federal governments for the events. Rebeca Silvia Perez Lopez, widow of Jimenez Velasco and who is seven months pregnant, blamed the crime on members of COMACH. While demanding justice, she said that she feared for her safety. On March 26 last, social organizations, democratic teachers from the region, and the family of Jimenez Velasco said their last goodbyes to a teacher who demanded justice and protested against all types of violence.

For more information in Spanish:

Asesinan en San Cristóbal de Las Casas a líder indígena (La Jornada, 26 de marzo de 2016)

Despiden a maestro asesinado en Chiapas (El Universal, 26 de marzo de 2016)

Exigen justicia por muerte de luchador social en San Cristóbal, Chiapas (Quadratin Oaxaca, 26 de marzo de 2016)

Asesinan a líder indígena en San Cristóbal de las Casas (SDP Noticias, 26 de marzo de 2016)

Asesinan a líder social (Artículo 7, 25 de marzo de 2016)


Justice for Berta Caceres and Nelson Noe Garcia. Protection for Gustavo Castro Soto

March 30, 2016

Berta y Gustavo.png

Berta Caceres and Gustavo Castro

DECLARATION

San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas

Mexico

March 23, 2016

The organizations of the International Network of Accompaniment and Observation (Red de Organizaciones de Acompañamiento y Observación Internacional) condemn the murder of the human rights defender Berta Isabel Caceres, Lenca indigenous, general coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras – COPINH) and winner of the Goldman Prize for the environment (2015).

Likewise, we repudiate the murder of the leader Nelson Noe Garcia, member of COPINH, that occurred only 12 days later, despite the global indignation that the violent death of an emblematic and inspiring defender has provoked.

On the night of March 2, 2016, in La Esperanza, the main town of the department of Intibuca, Honduras, armed persons entered the home of Berta Caceres and murdered her, despite having protective measures granted by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR).

Berta Caceres and other leaders of the organization have been systematically targeted for murders, death threats and violence for their defense of human rights. The main threats to COPINH and to Berta Caceres derive from her struggle against the “Agua Zarca” hydro-electric project, promoted by the company Desarollos Energeticos S.A. (DESA) on the river Gualcaraque. Berta Caceres was criminalized and tried for her defense of the river and the Lenca communities of Rio Blanco.

Gustavo Castro Soto, Mexican and member of Other Worlds Chiapas, of the Mexican Network of those Affected by Mining, and of the Meso-American Movement against the Extractive Mining Model (M4), who was in Honduras to take part in the COPINH Forum on the Indigenous Vision on Alternative Energies, was at the scene of the murder. Gustavo Castro was wounded in the attack but managed to survive. We are concerned that, to this date, he has been denied the possibility of leaving Honduras although he has collaborated as a witness in the crime investigations and he could continue to do so from Mexico, in this way avoiding the situation of risk to his person that he is exposed to while he remains in Honduras.

In the context of the violent eviction carried out by state forces, another member of COPINH, Nelson Noe Garcia, leader of the Rio Chiquito community in the municipality of Rio Lindo, department of Cortes, Honduras, was murdered on March 15. We unite to the pain of the families of Berta Caceres and Nelson Noe Garcia and to the call for solidarity with COPINH.

We highlight the psycho-social impact that these events are causing in the community of human rights defenders in the region. We recall the multiple alerts previously sent out by social organizations and international bodies and the worrying discovery, according to the 2015 Global Witness Report, that 75% of environmental activists murdered in the world work in Latin America, Honduras being the most dangerous country.

In the countries where we operate as organizations of international accompaniment, we observe a critical situation for persons who defend land and territory, who are often confronted with criminalization, intimidation, harassment, defamation, threats and even murders.

Consequently:

  • We ask the Government of Honduras and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights (IACHR), within the framework of fulfilling measures of protection, for the immediate signing of an agreement of technical assistance, for the purposes of nominating a commission of persons who are experts, independent and have the trust of COPINH and of the family, with the aim that they supervise, support and participate in the investigations of the murders of Berta Caceres and Nelson Noe Garcia, which are currently being carried by the Public Prosecutor’s Office.
  • We ask the international community in accordance with the declarations released in the framework of the murder, to vigilate the situation of defenders in the Latin American region and to urge the governments of the countries of the region to guarantee the protection of defenders of land and territory.
  • We ask the Government of Honduras to carry out a speedy, deep and independent investigation of the murders of Berta Caceres and Nelson Noe Garcia, that those guilty be brought to justice and that the lives and personal integrity of members are guaranteed.
  • We ask the Governments of Honduras and Mexico to take the necessary measures to guarantee the life, integrity and personal security of Gustavo Castro Soto.

International Network Organizations of Accompaniment and Observation

ACOGUATE; Guatemala

International Peace Brigades (IPB) Colombia

International Peace Brigades (IPB) Guatemala

International Peace Brigades (IPB) Honduras

International Peace Brigades (IPB) Mexico

Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Center for Human Rights, A.C. (Frayba); Mexico

FOR – Present for Peace; Colombia

Social Thought and Action (PAS); Colombia

PROAH; Honduras

Protection Desk; Colombia

International Service for Peace (SIPAZ); Mexico

Swedish Fellowship of Reconciliation (SweFOR); Mexico


Chiapas: Monthly commemoration of Las Abejas de Acteal Civil Society

March 28, 2016

Abejas

During the commemoration. Photo @SIPAZ

On March 22, Las Abejas de Acteal Civil Society commemorated the massacre at Acteal on their sacred ground, recording their word in a statement. After 18 years and three months they continue to denounce that “the pain and the memory are still present […]. There is no justice, because there is no peace in our country. As an organization, we always speak the truth and at the same time we denounce the most violent acts in our country. Our mission and our commitment is to work for peace.”

 According to their statement, the defense of the life of the people and of nature now seems to be a crime. “All those who rise to defend and protest their rights find just one response from the government: repression, murder and imprisonment.” They mentioned Berta Caceres from Honduras as a recent example, the social activist and defender who was murdered in her home on March 3 last, recalling that the Mexican environmental defender, Gustavo Castro Soto, was present and was wounded in the event. “Our world is upside down, with the laws and the authorities protecting the criminals and persecuting the citizens who struggle for justice. Our Political Constitution is out of date because the President of the Republic continues to make reforms that do not benefit the Mexican people. They only benefit the rich and foreign companies. An to the Mexican people whose rights it violates, it responds with crumbs and repression.” They ended the statement with a call “to take on a peaceful struggle because violence does not bring life. We hope to march united until peace triumphs.”

For more information in Spanish:

Comunicado Las Abejas de Acteal (Las Abejas de Acteal, 22 de marzo de 2016)

Gustavo Castro en Honduras (Otros Mundos, 22 de marzo de 2016)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Chiapas/Internacional: Nelson García, otro integrante del COPINH asesinado; Gustavo Castro, retenido por 30 días más (17 de marzo de 2016)

Chiapas/Internacional: Asesinan a defensora hondureña (Berta Cáceres) en presencia de defensor mexicano (Gustavo Castro) (7 de marzo de 2016)

Chiapas: Nueva agresión en contra de integrantes de Las Abejas de Acteal (4 de enero de 2016)

Chiapas: a 18 años de la masacre de Acteal (23 de diciembre de 2015)


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