Guerrero: Investigation “based in scientific proof” requested in the Ayotzinapa case

March 1, 2015

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Photo @SIPAZ

On 13 February, the UN Committee against Forced Disappearance (CED) declared that “generalized disappearances” are practiced “throughout” Mexico, and that the Ayotzinapa case “illustrates the serious challenges that the State confronts in terms of the prevention, investigation, and sanctioning of forcible disappearances and the search for the disappeared.”  It reminded the State of its obligation to “effectively investigate all State agents or organs that could have been involved, as well as to exhaust all lines of investigation” in response to forcible disappearances, with this being a recommendation that could clearly be applied to the Ayotzinapa case.

The inconsistencies that have been indicated by the Argentine Team of Forensic Anthropology (EAAF) with regards to the investigation of the Federal Attorney General (PGR) of the presumed murder of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa strengthen the demand to now open new lines of investigation and set the official story to the side, as relatives of the disappeared youth observed in a press-conference held on 9 February.  The spokesperson of the parents, Felipe de la Cruz, claimed that “the historical truth of this federal government in this case […] is in tatters.  Today certainly we can truly see clearly that we were not mistaken from the beginning, when we said we did not trust the government’s version and that of the PGR.”

In a communique released on 9 February, the Tlachinollan Mountain Center for Human Rights, explained in detail about the failed investigation into the Ayotzinapa case.  It concludes by saying that “[Now the parents] await the international support of the UN and the Inter-American Commission, as well as the prestigious work being carried out by the Argentine team.  They request that the PGR listen to their demands and observe the rights of the victims by carrying out an investigation that takes into account all possible lines and is based in scientific evidence.”  On 12 February, representatives of the families of the 43 disappeared students expressed their welcome to the newly arrived Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Groups (GIEI) to Mexico, who will begin the work of verifying the investigation of the forcible disappearance of the youth on 1 March.

For more information (in Spanish):

‘‘La verdad histórica sobre Ayotzinapa se cae a pedazos’’, expresan padres de familia (La Jornada, 10 de febrero de 2015)

Un gobierno que sepulta la verdad (CDHM Tlachinollan, 9 de febrero de 2015)

ONU acusa “desapariciones generalizadas” en México (SIDIDH, 13 de febrero de 2015)


Oaxaca: Activist Bettina Cruz is exonerated from federal charges

March 1, 2015

Bettina Cruz (@SIPAZ archivo)

Bettina Cruz (@SIPAZ archive)

In a press-conference, civil organizations reported that Bettina Cruz Velázquez, a human-rights defender who works with organizational processes opposed to the wind-energy megaprojects in the Tehuantepec Isthmus of Oaxaca, was exonerated of the charges that she had faced after a complaint submitted by the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE).

In 2012, she was arrested for having participated in a protest in front of a CFE installation, this being the institution which accused her of kidnapping and crimes against consumption and national wealth.  The charges were based on her supposed blockading of the entrance and exit to a group of CFE workers during a protest in front of one of the firm’s buildings.

While celebrating the resolution of this case, Santiago Aguirre, subdirector of the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Center for Human Rights, emphasized that this is an emblematic case of harassment that many other defenders suffer from in Mexico.

For more information (in Spanish):

Exoneran de cargos penales a la activista Bettina Cruz (La Jornada, 13 de febrero de 2015)

Absuelven a defensora de derechos humanos en Oaxaca (Milenio, 12 de febrero de 2015)

Absuelven de dos cargos a la activista Bettina Cruz (Ciudadanía Express, 12 de febrero de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca/National: Efforts to avert imprisonment of human-rights defender Bettina Cruz (26 de septiembre de 2014)

Oaxaca: Denunciation of harassment and death-threats against human-rights defenders in the Tehuantepec Isthmus (9 December 2013)

Oaxaca: Detention and subsequent release of rights-defender Bettina Cruz Velázquez (7 March 2012)


Chiapas: new national and international brigade of observation in solidarity with San Sebastián Bachajón

March 1, 2015

FOTO: El Otro Valle de Chalko.

Photo: El Otro Valle de Chalko

On 5 February, the ejidatari@s of San Sebastián Bachajón, Chilón municipality, who adhere to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle published by the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in 2005, released a communique in which they denounce that they have “information that they are preparing arrest-orders to suppress our organization and displace us from the new regional headquarters in San Sebastián, where we have space to do our work and share workshops.  The bad government does not like for us to have this space of rebelliousness, as we clearly denounce its desire to plunder the people from their lands.”

From 6 to 8 February, a national and international brigade of observation and solidarity took place in San Sebastián Bachajón, as organized by the Network against Repression and for Solidarity (RvsR). In this action, thirty-three persons participated, belonging to different collectives and organizations from Mexico, Italy, France, Spain, and Argentina, as well as free and alternative media.

In the first “sharing,” a historical account was presented of the official founding of the ejido in 1980, leading up to the decision by a large part of the ejido to adhere to the Sixth Declaration, leading subsequently to the State repression they have experienced.  In 2009, the first eight ejidatarios were arrested: in 2011 a displacement operation took place at the checkpoint at Agua Azul that had up to that point been administered by the ejido.  On that occasion, 117 persons were arrested, who later claimed to have been tortured and beaten after the violent displacement.  They were released slowly as a means of intimidation.  The work of the brigade also included documentation of the most recent conflicts.

For more information (in Spanish):

Brigada nacional e internacional visita el Ejido Bachajón (Subversiones, 11 de febrero de 2015)

#Informe brigada de observación sobre la situación en San Sebastián #Bachajón (Koman Ilel, 9 de febrero de 2015)

Comunicado de las y los ejidatarios de San Sebastián Bachajón (5 de febrero de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Tensions maintained in San Sebastián Bachajón (10 February 2015)

Chiapas: first report of the caravan of adherents to the Sixth to San Sebastían Bachajón after the violent displacement of 9 January (29 January 2015)

Chiapas: Indigenous ejidatarios from San Sebastián Bachajón are forcibly cleared from the entrance of the Agua Azul waterfalls (21 January 2015)

Chiapas: Ejidatari@s of San Sebastián Bachajón recover control-point at the Agua Azul waterfalls (30 December 2014)


Guerrero/National/International: UN Committee against Forcible Disappearance (CED) to evaluate the case of Mexico

February 10, 2015

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Photo @ SIPAZ archive

On 2 and 3 February, the UN Committee against Forcible Disappearance (CED) evaluated the question of Mexico’s observance of its obligations, as stipulated in the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons against Forcible Disappearance, for the first time.  Relatives of two of the 43 disappeared students from the Normal Rural School of Ayotzinapa, accompanied by a dozen Mexican human-rights organizations, arrived to Geneva to represent their peers.  They gave presentations at the United Nations and shared with the international community their profound indignation over the events of late September that took place in Guerrero state.  Bernabé Abraham Gaspar, father of Adán Abraham de la Cruz, one of the victims, emphasized that “for us, our sons are not dead.  They have been disappeared.  It is for that reason that we have come to the United Nations, so that you can help us find them.”

The CED has deeply questioned the Mexican State in relation to the actions and policies supposedly designed to prevent, investigate, and sanction forcible disappearances, as well as to search out the missing and protect their families.  In this sense, the Committee interrogated the State regarding the reasons for the closure of the FEMOSPP, an institution that had been charged with investigating the grave human-rights violations that took place during the “Dirty War” of the 1970’s, as well as the lengthy delay of the federal government in attending to the case of the forcible disappearance of the 43 students from Ayotzinapa.  The CED indicated that the Ayotzinapa case represents a serious challenge for the Mexican State, but that it also demonstrates a broader structural problem that has developed due to impunity. Stephanie Erin Brewer, coordinator of International Affairs at the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Center for Human Rights, has indicated that the question of impunity has been present at all moments, given that the members of the Committee have indicated that there are exceedingly few cases in which sentences have been handed down.  She inquired into the reasons behind the closure of the Special Prosecutorial Office for Past Crimes and other events, such as the faulty classification of this type of crime.  The conclusions and recommendations for Mexico will be made public on 13 February.

For more information (in Spanish):

México ante el Comité contra la Desaparición Forzada: la obligación de hacer de la crisis actual un punto de inflexión en la política del Estado(Centro ProDH, 3 de febrero de 2015)

“Que no nos mientan más…que se haga justicia” (Alba TV, 2 de febrero de 2015)

INFORME | La Desaparición Forzada de los 43 estudiantes de Ayotzinapa frente al CED (Tlachinollan, 2 de febrero de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National/International: PBI and WOLA publish report on Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists and Human-Rights Defenders in México

February 10, 2015

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On 3 February, the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and Peace Brigades International (PBI) published a report that evaluates the Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists and Human-Rights Defenders, which has existed formally in Mexico for a little over two years.  While the report recognizes the “importance of the Mechanism and the courageous work done by the team that comprises it,” it also identifies a number of areas in which “improvements are needed, using several cases that will serve as examples to illustrate these weaknesses.”

The report details how Mexico has become one of the most dangerous countries in the world for journalists and human-rights defenders: “During the first nine months of 2014, the Mexican section of the international organization Article 19 documented 222 aggressions against journalists; […] and between January 2011 and December 2013, the ‘All Rights for All’ National Network of Civil Human-Rights Groups documented 27 cases of human-rights defenders being murdered as a result of their labor.”

The report on the Mechanism notes that, “since the beginning, the lack of personnel and funds has limited the capacity of the Mechanism to respond efficiently to urgent petitions it receives from journalists and human-rights defenders.  A large part of the constrained number of personnel who were initially assigned to the Mechanism have not been adequately trained, were insufficiently qualified, and had merely temporary contracts.”  It indicates that “there has been an accumulation of cases for the Mechanism, and the majority of the human-rights defenders and journalists who have submitted petitions to the Mechanism have had to wait many months, and on some occasions longer than a year, with no response.”

According to WOLA and PBI, there was seen “bad communication between the beneficiaries and the personnel of the Mechanism,” as well as a “lack of coordination among the different organizations involved in the process,” leading to “grave failures in the provision of protection.”

Both organizations lamented that the investigations linked to aggressions against journalists and rights-defenders “have not advanced,” thus maintaining a situation of near-total impunity in these cases.  They stressed that, worst of all, the government has deployed forces “to discredit and criminalize the rights-defenders and human-rights organizations,” hence sending the “worrying message that the government neither respects nor recognizes the courageous work of human-rights defenders.”

For more information (in Spanish):

El Mecanismo de Protección para Personas Defensoras de Derechos Humanos y Periodistas en México: desafíos y oportunidades (WOLA y PBI, 3 de febrero de 2015)

Periodistas y activistas están desprotegidos por el gobierno: WOLA y BPI(Proceso, 3 de febrero de 2015)

Gobernación no protege ni a periodistas ni a activistas: ONGs desde Washington (Sin Embargo, 3 de febrero de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

National: A delicate moment for the Mechanism for the Protection of Rights Defenders and Journalists (30 March 2014)

National: launching of Consultative Council of Mechanism for Protection of Journalists and Rights-Defenders (26 October 2012)

National: Approval of Law for the Protection of Human-Rights Defenders and Journalists (16 May 2012)


National: Promotion of Citizens’ Popular Congress

February 10, 2015

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On 5 February, in observance of the anniversary of the entrance into law of the current Mexican Constitution, parents of the 43 disappeared students from Ayotzinapa, Guerrero, together with Raúl Vera, bishop of Saltillo, Coahuila, the priest Alejandro Solalinde, the poet Javier Sicilia, and the artist Francisco Toledo, together with members of human-rights organizations, churches, campesino organizations, and unions participated in the public presentation of the initiative for a Popular Citizens’ Constitution.  The organizational call notes in this sense that “we call on civil society, women and men, without importance to creed, gender diversity, or social class to advance with the refoundation of the nation; to progress toward the creation of a new constitution that bases elections on democracy, ensures that the representatives of a new congress be subject to the will of the people, and forever buries all types of juridical and economic forms of organization that merely make the people into commodities to be plundered.  This constitution must put an end to impunity, racism, and patriarchy.  To serve and to lead by obeying must be the new conditions of those who become representative of civil society.”

Following a series of sessions throughout the country during the past 11 months, the partisans of the Citizens’ Constitution explained the necessity of “refounding the country.”  Toward this end 20 points have been presented, including guarantees for human rights and union organizing, beyond the implementation of a convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women.

There was also announced a planned meeting on 21 March “to discuss the political reality of the countryin terms of the elections for this year.”  Beyond this, there was made a call for the First National Assembly of the Committee for National Refoundation that will be held on 2 May.

For more information (in Spanish):

Convocatoria Hacia la Constituyente Ciudadana-Popular (Regeneración, 5 de febrero de 2015)

Presentan activistas el “Primer Constituyente Ciudadano Popular”(Proceso, 5 de febrero de 2015)

Activistas y ONG presentan el “primer constituyente ciudadano” (La Jornada, 5 de febrero de 2015)

Solalinde, Raúl Vera y Sicilia presentan primer Constituyente Ciudadana(Vanguardia, 5 de febrero de 2015)


National/International: German activists reject security agreement with Mexico

February 10, 2015

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German activists in front of the Ministry of the Interior. Photo@México Vía Berlín

On 3 February, dozens of persons protested in front of the German Ministry of the Interior against a security agreement that is planned with Mexico.  The activists submitted a list of 7,830 persons who reject the support Berlin provides for police and juridical authorities in Mexico.  These signatures are the results of a campaign promoted by the German Coordination for Human Rights in Mexico which has repeatedly pronounced itself against this type of agreement given that, as it argues, conditions do not exist in Mexico for a collaboration of this type.  The petition’s website explains that “this agreement would not serve to regulate the police who are systematically torturing their people, killing innocents, and raping women, besides being involved in the forcible disappearances of tens of thousands of people for decades.”  In response to the German government’s argument that corruption is limited to the local and municipal levels, the activists note that “this is a disingenuous argument, to claim that the problems have to do with the local police […].  The impunity of the security forces is the functional reality of all levels of the Mexican government, and only in a very limited set of situations can it be broken using particular tactics.  For the German police to collaborate with these structures would be to legitimate the principle of impunity.”

Present at the protest was a Mexican delegation, which included the bishop of Saltillo, Raúl Vera, and members of the Network in Solidarity Decade against Impunity.  After the protest, close to 40 activists met with officials from the Ministry, including Peter Steck and Siegfried Helmut Mueller. Bishop Vera handed over the list of signatures against the controversial security proposal and expressed the same sort of worry evinced by the other activists: “At this time, as Ayotzinapa has shown, the police, the Army, and organized crime act jointly together against the people of the country.  And the federal government knows that part of civil society disagrees with this, such that they feel insecure.  And this force that you are giving to the police will not be used to fight organized crime but instead people like us.”  For his part, Peter Steck promised the activists that he would transmit the information to be considered in the negotiations regarding the security accord.

For more information (in Spanish):

Campaña “No al acuerdo” de la Coordinación Alemana por los Derechos Humanos en México

Activistas rechazan en Berlín convenio de seguridad con México(LaJornada, 4 de febrero, 2015)

Obispo Vera pide al gobierno alemán evitar firma de acuerdo con México(Proceso, 3 de febrero, 2015)

Acuerdo de seguridad Alemania-México: inminente y poco transparente(Deutsche Welle, 8 de diciembre, 2014)

Los peligros del Acuerdo de Seguridad entre México y Alemania (eltoque, 4 de febrero, 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Guerrero: update in the Ayotzinapa case (17 December 2014)


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