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

May 30, 2016

Maximiliano.png

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)


Chiapas/National: National and international day for political prisoners, from 6 to 13 December

December 26, 2015

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From 6 to 13 December was held a national and international action in solidarity with political prisoners in Mexico and the world. In recent dates, the Network against Repression and for Solidarity (RvsR) called for a national meeting with adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, students from the Zapatista Escuelita, communities, groups, and organizations in solidarity, toward the end of developing accords and tasks to “continue the struggle for the freedom of our comrade political prisoners.” From this National Meeting of the RvsR for Our Political Prisoners and the Eurozapatista Meeting of Barcelona came the call for this week of action that seeks to build bridges of dialogue with all those who “also build from their spaces places for struggle, because the struggle for our comrade political prisoners is not something to forget, but instead is a basic act of justice.” The action called on adherents to the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle, students from the Zapatista Escuelita, communities, groups, and organizations in solidarity to carry out actions “in solidarity and camaradery with our friends taken by power.”

The action served to commemorate the men and women who have been politically imprisoned in Chiapas, Mexico City, Tlanixco (Mexico State), Guerrero, Michoacán, Oaxaca, and the U.S. whom the “capitalist system seeks to eliminate, using tools of isolation and forgetting.” This was accomplished through different events, meetings, expositions, murals, chats, flyers, performances, and conferences throughout Mexico and the world.

Presently, Chiapas has four political prisoners who adhere to the Sixth Declaration: Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, Emilio Jiménez Gómez, Esteban Gómez Jiménez, and Santiago Moreno Pérez. The families, ex-prisoners, friends, and comrades of Alejandro Díaz Sántiz, a Tsotsil indigenous man and a “struggling prisoner” who adheres to the Sixth Declaration, held a press-conference on 14 December regarding his case and transfer on 10 September to the Federal Center for Social Readaptation (CEFERESO) in Villa de Comamtitlán, Chiapas. At the press-conference, which took place at the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights, the relatives, “ex-prisoners, friends, and comrades” of Alejandro denounced that “he finds himself in isolation, with a very limited ability to communicate with the outside […]. He is held all day in his cell, with only 30 minutes outside, without access to readings, photographs, and much less correspondence. Neither does he enjoy any right to an education, nor does he have access even to paper and pencils.”

In its communique, the RvsR reaffirmed its “commitment to not giving up the struggle for a world without political prisoners, repression, marginalization, exploitation, or plundering: in sum, for a world that is just, free, and democratic.” Besides, amidst the power of the “Capitalist Hydra that uses repression as one of its basic pillars, we are not intimidated, but rather we will learn how to respond with organization, rebellion, and resistance.”

For more information (in Spanish):

JORNADA NACIONAL E INTERNACIONAL POR NUESTR@S PRES@S DEL 6 AL 13 DE DICIEMBRE (Red Contra la Represión y por la Solidaridad, 1 de diciembre de 2015)

Jornada Nacional e Internacional por Nuestr@s Pres@s del 6 al 13 de diciembre (Enlace Zapatista, 2 de diciembre de 2015)

Presos Políticos (Red contra la Represión y por la Solidaridad)

Jornada por Nuestr@s Pres@s: Audios y Videos (Radio Zapatista, 8 de diciembre de 2015)

Red Contra la Represión: Actividades dentro de la Jornada Nacional e Internacional por Nuestr@s Pres@s y pláticas con familiares de Nuestr@s Pres@s (Enlace Zapatista, 12 de diciembre de 2015)

“No olvidamos a los hombres y mujeres que el sistema capitalista pretende eliminar, bajo sus instituciones de aislamiento y de olvido”, jornada x pres@s polític@s. (Radio Pozol, 14 de diciembre)

Los presos del Ejido de San Sebastián Bachajón, del municipio de Chilón. (6 de diciembre, Kolectivo Zero)

Alejandro Díaz Santiz (Kolectivo Zero, 8 de diciembre de 2015)

Sin acceso a lecturas, imágenes, correspondencia y con visitas cada 15 días, mantienen preso injustamente a indígena tzeltal en Chiapas. (Radio Pozol, 15 de diciembre de 2015)

Pronunciamiento de Solidaridad y comunicado de los familiares y amigxs de Alejandro Diaz Santiz (Espoir Chiapas, 15 de diciembre de 2015)

Álvaro Sebastián (8 de diciembre de 2015, Subversiones)

Audio del mitin de solidaridad con Ostula y por la Libertad de Semei Verdia Comandante Comunitario.Casa de Michoacan en DF (Noticias de Abajo ML, 14 de diciembre de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Alejandro Díaz Sántiz and 386 other prisoners transferred to high-security prison (8 October 2015)

Chiapas: Alejandro Díaz expresses his solidarity with the disappeared students of Ayotzinapa and their families (30 December 2014)


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)


Oaxaca/National: Efforts to avert imprisonment of human-rights defender Bettina Cruz

October 1, 2014

Bettina Cruz (@SIPAZ archivo)

Bettina Cruz (@SIPAZ archive)

In a press conference held on 23 September, federal legislators called on the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR) to stop the looming incarceration of Oaxacan rights-defender Bettina Cruz Velázquez, who presently free faces accusations of kidnapping and crimes against consumption and national wealth.

It bears mentioning that on 22 February 2012, the defender was detained and incarcerated, accused of kidnapping and crimes against consumption and the national wealth, though she only participated in a protest a year previous opposing high electricity prices in Oaxaca.  On 24 February 2012 she posted bail and was released, but the legal process against her continues.

The legislators in question affirm that they “consider that the moves and process against Bettina represent acts of criminalization of social protest, illustrating the risky situations faced by persons who work to defend human rights.  Through this process, it has become clear that the justice system has deviated greatly against them, particularly those who work in defense of the land amidst the imposition of megaprojects.”

Beyond this, in a communique published on 25 September, Amnesty International (AI) warned that, if the judiciary power decided to imprison the rights-defender, it would “consider nominating her as a prisoner of conscience.”  AI stressed that the obligation of the Mexican authorities “is to guarantee that the justice system does not work in favor of the persecution of those who defend human rights, as revenge against their legitimate actions.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Piden legisladores a PGR evitar encarcelamiento de activista (Cimac Noticias, 23 de septiembre de 2014)

Carta completa de los legisladores (23 de septiembre de 2014)

No a la persecución judicial de las personas defensoras de derechos humanos (Amnistía Internacional, 25 de septiembre de 2014)

Campaña en twitter: etiqueta #JusticiaparaBettina

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Various denunciations in the Tehuantepec Isthmus from community assemblies organized against wind-farms in their territories (6 September 2014)

Oaxaca: Confrontations in Álvaro Obregón community, Juchitán, leave several injured (15 March 2014)

Oaxaca: Opponents to wind-energy parks threatened with death in the Isthmus (2 March 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 (March 7, 2012)

Oaxaca: Death-threats against human-rights defenders (4 November 2011)


Chiapas/National: Lawyers for Patishtán and communal police of Michoacán denounce death-threats and harassment

March 28, 2014

Leonel Rivero (@SIPAZ archivo)

Leonel Rivero (@SIPAZ archive)

In an Urgent Action published on 14 March, Amnesty International (AI) denounced the death-threats and harassment suffered by the lawyers of the Strategic Defense for Human Rights, Leonel Rivero Rodríguez and Augusto César Sandino Rivero Espinoza.  These lawyers are known for their interventions in cases such as that of now ex-prisoner Alberto Patishtán, those arrested from the Front of Peoples in Defense of the Land from San Salvador Atenco, and communal police from Michoacán.

On 17 January, Rivero Rodríguez received a threatening telephone call and then presented a denunciation before the Federal Attorney General’s Office (PGR), though the perpetrator of the action has not yet been identified.  Indeed, the PGR has now informed her that it plans to place the affair in the archive.

On 4 March, “three unknown persons invaded a hotel in which Leonel Rivero Rodríguez was meeting with members of communities from Michoacán state to address delicate issues,” regarding a case that she was covering together with Sandino Rivero Espinosa.  On 10 March, the office that Leonel Rivero Rodríguez has in her home in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas was harassed.

AI has called on the authorities to guarantee the security of the lawyers of Strategic Defense for Human Rights, to undertake an impartial investigationi into the telephone threats made on 17 January, and the harassment of 10 March, as well as to guarantee that “the lawyers who work on potentially delicate affairs be allowed to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of suffering repression.”

For more information (in Spanish):

Acción Urgente de Amnistía Internacional, 14 de marzo de 2014

Amnistía Internacional denuncia amenazas contra abogados de Patishtán(Proceso, 17 de marzo de 2014)

Denuncia Amnistía Internacional hostigamiento contra abogado de Patishtán (La Jornada, 17 de marzo de 2014)

 Los abogados de Alberto Patisthán denuncian amenazas y hostigamientos(CNN México, 18 de marzo de 2014)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: Rejection of recognition of Patishtán’s innocence. “There is a look of denigration toward the indigenous sector,” says lawyer (4 October 2013)


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