URGENT RELEASE: REPRESSION OF TEACHERS IN OAXACA

June 22, 2016

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URGENT RELEASE

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México
June 21, 2016

REPRESSION OF TEACHERS IN OAXACA

On June 19, elements of the police in the state of Oaxaca violently repressed teachers and organized civil society in opposition of the education reform of the government of Enrique Peña Nieto. Such events caused the death of at least six people, the apprehension and/or disappearance of 22, and 45 left with gunshot wounds between Nochixtlán and Hacienda Blanca. Their medical attention was not guaranteed, to which the general population responded by building “attention centers” to serve and treat those wounded. In the last few days, planes of the Federal Police and the Gendarmerie have arrived to the capital of the state.

Such event is the most recent within the escalating context of the repressive violence in all of the entities where the teachers’ movement has manifested with the support of the civil society (Oaxaca, Tabasco, Chiapas, Michoacan, Guerrero, among others) in the last few weeks. All of these mobilizations have been in demand for a dialogue with the federal government about the reform, which has maintained a stern stance of not wanting to modify such reform, and has threatened with the immediate cessation of those on strike.

Background History:

In 2013, the federal government approved the education reform, included in the packet of reforms derived from the “Pact for Mexico” -an agreement between principal political parties planting the construction of a society with human rights and liberties, economic growth, security, justice, transparency, combat of corruption, and democratic governance-. Since its announcement from the President of the Republic, Enrique Peña Nieto, the education reform caused inconformity between the teachers. It was presented by the government as an improvement in the education system from the evaluation of teachers; aimed to promote the autonomy of the families of students in terms of maintenance of the schools in practice, involving the covering of expenses of school maintenance. It was interpreted by a wide sector of teachers as a labor reform -more so than educational content- that would permit selective dismissals and the beginning of the privatization of education in the country.

As a result, dissident teachers organized multiple protests in several states in search for a dialogue with the federal government for the repeal of the reform. Various of the mobilizations were repressed by police forces, causing the death of three teachers (one from Chiapas and two from Guerrero in 2015 and 2016).

Organizations of the civil society of Oaxaca denounced the “criminalization of teachers”, with examples such as “mass media campaigns of defamation”, or the detention of at least 75 people -among which are several leaders of the movement-, who find themselves “in a situation of political imprisonment”. The Working Group on Arbitrary Detention of the United Nations assessed that several of the arrests were directed against human rights defenders and they were carried out arbitrarily. Furthermore, some of those arrested were transported to high security prisons intended for severe federal crimes.

The civil society of Oaxaca rejected the dozens of arrest warrants issued to members of the Section 22 of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE, in its Spanish acronyms) -known for demanding the cancellation of the education reform and for being a prominent part of the Oaxacan social movement-, looking to “dismantle the movement”. Before this situation, various rapporteurs of the United Nations emitted “urgent phone calls to Mexican authorities” due to the human rights violations, mainly for arrests without warrants, nor search warrants, and for the use of torture.

Since May 15 of this year, the teachers in opposition declared a labor strike, closing a large part of schools, with percentages above 95% in the states of Chiapas and Oaxaca. Adding to the strike, teachers organized marches, blocked roads, held encampments and symbolic “sit-ins” of city councils and radio stations, among other actions, which have received growing support from the parents of the families of students, as well as the general population. The teachers currently maintain an encampment in the downtown center of the city of Oaxaca de Juárez, which is being guarded by barricades in the historic center of town and by road blockades of strategic points to prevent the entry of police forces.

The Civil Society of Oaxaca published an Urgent Action reporting a Humanitarian Alert issue “for State armed civilian attacks”. They requested the removal of governmental forces and repression against teachers and the general population, a space for dialogue, immediate medical attention, a stop to the criminalization of the teachers, the cancellation of the arrest warrants, the liberation of those detained, as well as the punishment of those responsible of the human rights violations.

As the International Service for Peace (SIPAZ), we are highly concerned due to the human rights violations in the context of the teachers’ mobilizations, which is why we invite you all to sign the Urgent Action from the Civil Society of Oaxaca in the web-page of the All Rights for All Network (Red TdT, in its Spanish acronym).

We also assess that the situation of high tension is not only present in Oaxaca, but in Chiapas as well, to which we invite the national and international society remain attentive and aware of the events in the state.

For more information:

AU: Sociedad Civil de Oaxaca emite Alerta Humanitaria por ataque armado del Estado a la población civil


Chiapas: Las Abejas de Acteal Request Collection for Displaced Families

June 15, 2016

Acopio.pngCollection during the displacement of Colonia Puebla in 2013. Photo: @Koman Ilel.

On May 26, a group of 14 families from Las Abejas de Acteal Civil Society, residents of Colonia Puebla, Chenalho municipality, Chiapas, were displaced fleeing the violence caused by the conflict after the elections in that municipality. The displacement happened after violent incidents between sympathizers of the recently dismissed mayor, Rosa Perez Perez of the Green Ecologist Party of Mexico (PVEM), and supporters of the new mayor, Miguel Santiz Alvarez, causing the death of two people, one of them a minor, who died from a bullet wound. The Chenalho Pedrano Movement, opponents of Perez Perez, said in a statement that they were attacked with “firearms, sticks, stones and machetes, in an ambush that was orchestrated by sympathizers of the ex-mayor.” Furthermore, there were “two houses burned, two destroyed, three vehicles destroyed and six people wounded”, according to the statement from Las Abejas.

Las Abejas noted that “until now, there are no conditions to return”, so that the displaced are currently in the headquarters of the organization. In another letter they outlined that, “the displaced from the colony are living through suffering. Therefore we ask you the favor of helping with supplies.” To this end, they have opened two collection centers for clothes in San Cristobal de Las Casas and they ask for financial support to be deposited in a bank account. According to La Jornada, the National Commission for Human Rights (CNDH) “requested the government of Chiapas to apply cautionary measures and guarantee the rights of the people who have been displaced.” The measures are aimed at guaranteeing rights to food, health, a home, physical integrity and the lives of the displaced.

It is worth noting that the disagreement following the result of the municipal elections in Chenalho, with the victory of PVEM, gave rise to the Chenalho Pedrano Movement in rejection of the elected mayor, accusing her of “corruption, abuse of power and diverting resources.” This group organized a takeover of the town hall and a number of government offices, it took over the State Congress for some hours, and it kidnapped three civil servants who were negotiating a solution to the disagreement, among them the President of the State Congress and a deputy. Having put them on public show, one dressed as a woman, Congress accepted the resignation of the mayor.

It is also worth mentioning that 17 families of Colonia Puebla were displaced by in August 2013 in the conflict between Catholics and Evangelicals in dispute over the land where Catholic hermitage was located. Almost 100 displaced people returned after eight months off their lands, denouncing the lack of law enforcement for their aggressors.

For more information in Spanish:

Los desplazados y desplazadas de la colonia puebla están viviendo bajo el sufrimientos. Entonces le pedimos un gran favor a que nos puedan colaborar en las despensas. (Sociedad Civil Las Abejas de Acteal, 7 de junio de 2016)

Hace apenas 8 días, jueves 26 de mayo, los miembros de la organización de la sociedad civil de las abejas de Acteal, en la colonia puebla se desplazaron 14 familias un total de 81 personas porque en esa misma colonia surgió nuevamente una gran violencia y balaceras a las 13:45pm hora normal. (Sociedad Civil Las Abejas de Acteal, 3 de junio de 2016)

Piden proteger a desplazados de Chenalhó (La Jornada, 31 de mayo de 2016)

For more information in SIPAZ:

Chiapas: Riesgo de más violencia en Chenalhó después de secuestro y cambio de alcalde (31 de mayo de 2016)

Chiapas : jóvenes denuncian violencia, impunidad y ausencia de justicia para Puebla (30 de abril de 2014)

Chiapas: regresan a su comunidad los desplazados de Ejido Puebla (15 de abril de 2014)

Chiapas:Incremento de la violencia en Colonia Puebla, Chenalhó (22 de julio de 2013)


Chiapas/National: Enforced Disappearance of Maximiliano Gordillo Martinez by INM Agents Denounced

May 30, 2016

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In a [call to] Urgent Action on May 18, 2016, the civil organizations Mesoamerican Voices, Action with Migrant Peoples A.C., the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center (CDHFBC, also known as Frayba), and The 72 Hogar Refuge for Migrants, denounced the enforced disappearance of Maximiliano Martinez Gordillo, an 18-year-old native of Tzinil community, Socoltenango municipality, Chiapas.

On 7 May, he was detained by people who presented themselves as agents of the National Migration Institute (INM) and unidentified elements of the police, on the road from Comitan de Domínguez, Chiapas, to Playa del Carmen, Quintana Roo, to where he was travelling to look for work. Six or seven people who did not have official voter identification were taken off the vehicle, including Maximilian. Realizing that he was being accused of being an undocumented migrant, he showed his original birth certificate and CURP as proof of his Mexican nationality, as he had no voter identification. However the agents claimed that they were false documents. The last time Maximiliano was seen was in the migration office, where there were between 15 to 20 more people detained by the INM.

The INM has denied registration of Maximilian in the national system of INM, and has not provided more information to assist in his search. A complaint was filed with the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH), a body that reported the INM denial that there was any detention of migrants on the date referred to along the entire said route. A complaint was filed with the District Attorney’s office of the Highlands, Chiapas.

For more information in Spanish:

Acción Urgente Desaparición Forzada de Maximiliano Gordillo Martínez por agentes del INM (18 de mayo de 2016)

Denuncian desaparición forzada de joven chiapaneco en retén de Migración (Desinformémonos, 20 de mayo de 2016)

La extraña desaparición de Maximiliano Gordillo (La Opinión, 19 de mayo de 2016)


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

March 30, 2016

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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: Public proclamation on the Popular Citizens’ Constitutional Power in San Cristóbal

December 26, 2015

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Public proclamation in San Cristóbal of the Popular Citizens’ Constitutional Power (@SIPAZ)

On 5 December, more than 15,000 people, the majority of them indigenous, as well as representatives from seven countries in Central and South America, marched and held a rally in San Cristóbal de Las Casas to proclaim the Popular Citizens’ Constitutional Power. This initiative seeks to establish the basis for a new political Constitution in Mexico, which would refound the nation and lead to a new social contract.

Raúl Vera López, former assistant bishop of San Cristóbal de Las Casas and present bishop of Saltillo, Coahuila, led the event at which the indigenous protestors gave him a command scepter. The bishop acknowledged that the Zapatista uprising of 1994 represented the “ferment” of a new constitutional power, but that at present “it it not just our Mayan brothers and sisters who seek a new social contract, but rather all Mexicans.” He asserted that “we do not want this deviation of power whereby the authority we delegate in a government becomes perverse, placing our resources and lands in the hands of multinational corporations and their home governments and states. Instead, these must be placed at the service of all Mexicans who want peace with justice and development with dignity.”

The Council of the Popular Citizens’ Constitutional Power in Chiapas stressed that “today is an historical day that will be remembered throughout Chiapas and Mexico, because the presence of thousands of people is a clear demonstration that the people have recognized how disastrous our living conditions are, and have armed themselves with valor and dignity, taking on the responsibility of transforming this reality.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Marchan miles en Chiapas para proclamar una nueva Constitución (La Jornada, 7 de diciembre de 2015)

Tribunal Permanente de Pueblos urge a la refundación del país (Proceso, 6 de diciembre de 2015)

Presentan indígenas su constituyente ciudadana (El Universal, 7 de diciembre de 2015)

Sitio de la iniciativa: constituyenteciudadana.org


Chiapas: 57 Tojolabal indigenous people forcibly displaced from their community, Primero de Agosto

March 8, 2015

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On 23 February 2015, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Center for Human Rights (CDHFBC) released an urgent action regarding the forcible displacement of a group of Tojolabal indigenous people from the Primero de Agosto community, Las Margaritas municipality, Chiapas.

The CDHFBC “has received trustworthy documentary evidence regarding the displacement of the 57 Tojolabal indigenous persons, including 12 minors and one neonate, 20 women, and 25 men from the Primero de Agosto community, with this being an action perpetrated by members of the Independent Historic Campesino Agricultural Worker Center (CIOAC-H), who have been protected in this region by the municipal government of Las Margaritas.”

The bulletin adds that “according to the received information, today at 8am, 50 members of the CIOAC-H, including Reynaldo López Pérez, the ejidal commissioner, Antonio Méndez Pérez, the auxiliary agent, as well as other authorities from Miguel Hidalgo ejido, Las Margaritas municipality, entered the Primero de Agosto community, carrying high-powered firearms and surrounding the homes of the residents, leading to the displacement of the residents who fled to the closest highway, where they now reside in grave conditions: women and children lacking shelter, food, and security guarantees amidst the possibility of attacks from the group affiliated to the Miguel Hidalgo ejido.”

For this reason, in its Urgent Action the CDHFBC urgently calls on the Mexican governments to take the necessary measures to guarantee the human rights of the displaced, that those responsible for the forcible displacement and other harms of the group from Primero de Agosto be investigated and sanctioned, and that comprehensive attention be provided in accordance with the appropriate laws regarding internal displacement.

For more information (in Spanish):

Acción Urgente: Desplazamiento forzado de familias tojolabales del poblado Primero de Agosto, CDHFBLC, 23 de febrero de 2013

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: amenazas contra familias simpatizantes del EZLN (29 December 2014)

Chiapas: EZLN announces dates for the exchanges between Zapatistas and indigenous peoples of the CNI (12 June 2014)

Chiapas: EZLN announces upcoming activities (10 June 2014)

Chiapas: EZLN pays tribute to murdered Support-base and announces organizational changes (10 June 2014)

Chiapas: EZLN communique “Pain and Rage” (18 May 2014)

Chiapas: Attacks on EZLN support bases leave one dead and 15 injured among Zapatistas (16 May 2014)


Oaxaca: New threats against members of Indigenous Women for Conservation, Investigation, and Management of Natural Resources (CIARENA)

February 8, 2015


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In an Urgent Action published on 27 January 2015, Amnesty International calls on State authorities to protect the security of Silvia Pérez Yescas, a human-rights defender for the indigenous people of the community of Matías Romero, Oaxaca, given that she has received new threats, despite having security protocols in place.

The UA details that on 13 January, Silvia Pérez discovered that several members of her organization, Indigenous Women for Conservation, Investigation, and Management of Natural Resources (CIARENA), had been threatened.  A group of people who said they represented a cacique from the zone told them that they should “[abandon] the stupidities because you can even be thrown in jail for being accomplices of Silvia, and anyway she will be fucked over for getting involved in this problem of land distribution.”  Furthermore, they added that “there are people waiting for when she will show her face.”

For more information from SIPAZ (in Spanish):

Acción Urgente en línea México: Defensores de indígenas reciben nuevas amenazas (AI, 27 de enero de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Bounty placed on head of female rights-defender for 100,000 pesos (2 September 2014)

Oaxaca: Armed men threaten human-rights defender (29 January 2013)