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: Two female witnesses threatened in the murder case of Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola

March 1, 2015

Conferencia de prensa ante amenazas (@CENCOS)

Press-conference regarding threats (@CENCOS)

In a press-conference, members of the National Association of Democratic Lawyers (ANAD) denounced the threats received by two female witnesses in the case of the murders of the activists Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola (Finnish) in San Juan Copalá, a Triqui region of Oaxaca, in 2010.  Karla Michel Salas of ANAD explained that after the arrest of Elías Cruz Merino, “on 25 January the UBISOR leader, Antonio Cruz García, the father of Elías, who is also a municipal authority in Juxtlahuaca, arrived with a truck and armed men to the homes of the witnesses and he told them that they were coming to take them to Oaxaca City so that they would renounce their accusations against Elías, who until 31 December had acted as the Minister of Education for the municipality.”  The women resisted “in light of the risk of being forcibly disappeared.”  Michel Salas added that “the federal and state authorities know that there is great risk.  The risk is so great, in fact, that during the latest audiences that have been carried out, the judge has been strongly protected by more than 30 fully armed investigative police.”

Amidst the lack of protection and effective responses on the part of the authorities, the ANAD reported that it had decided to protect them itself with its own resources in a safety-house and request that Finland grant them asylum for humanitarian reasons.

Omar Esparza, the widower of Bety Cariño, indicated that the father of Elías Cruz Merino returned thereafter to threaten the entire community, that if “these women testified, he would do something to them with his own hands.”  The ANAD lawyers in the end denounced the intimidation and harassment of the judge and prosecutor who are elaborating the case against the UBISORT group, in addition to indirect threats against ANAD and relatives of Bety and Jyri.

For more information (in Spanish):

Acoso contra testigos del homicidio de un defensor y una defensora de los derechos humanos (Acción Urgente, Amnistía Internacional, 12 de febrero de 2015)

Denuncian amenazas de paramilitares a testigos del asesinato de activistas (La Jornada, 12 de febrero de 2015)

Testigos del crimen de los activistas Cariño y Jaakkola pedirán asilo político en Finlandia (Proceso, 11 de febrero de 2015)

En riesgo, mujeres testigos del caso Bety Cariño (CIMAC Noticias, 11 de febrero de 2015)

Denuncian amenazas a testigos del caso de Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola(CENCOS, 11 de febrero de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: 4 years and 7 months later, presumed murderer of human-rights defenders Bety Cariño and Jyri Jaakkola is apprehended (8 February 2015)

Oaxaca: Parents of Jyri Jaakkola visit Mexico for fifth time to demand justice (7 December 2014)

National/Oaxaca: Mothers of the disappeared express solidarity with Omar Esparza and his family on hunger strike (18 May 2014)

Oaxaca: In response to 4 years of impunity, hunger strikes and protests taken to resist murders of Bety Cariño y Jyri Jaakkola (2 May 2014)


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)


Oaxaca: in assembly, peoples of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus denounce threats from PEMEX

March 1, 2015

(@romanoticias)

(@romanoticias)

On 8 February, representatives from 25 communities associated with the communities of San Juan Guichicovi, Asunción Ixtaltpec, Matías Romero, Santa María Petapa, and El Barrio de la Soledad met in an assembly with members of the Union of Communities of the Northern Zone of the Isthmus (UCIZONI).   They jointly denounced intimidation and threats made by PEMEX workers who had been preparing the land for the construction of the natural gas pipeline spanning Jáltipan, Veracruz to Salina Cruz, Oaxaca.   They warned that they would prevent workers from the state firm and their subcontracotrs from entering their lands and ejidos.

It should be noted that this new pipeline will occupy 315 kilometers of land within these communities in the Tehuantepec Isthmus.  Those affected have denounced that the state firm has entered their lands without their permission to carry out topographical surveys.  To date there exist more than 500 who have displaced by works and disasters in these municipalities, and they indicate that PEMEX has “acted very irresponsibly in the face of oil spills, like the one that occurred on 31 December.  The victims still have not been compensated.”

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Pemex reprime y despoja a a comunidades istmeñas (Comunicado de prensa de UCIZONI, 8 de febrero de 2015)

Piden resultados creíbles de estudio sobre incendio en pozo de Tabasco(La Jornada, 10 de febrero de 2015)

Pueblos de la zona norte del Istmo, denuncian intimidación de Pemex(Página3, 10 de febrero de 2015)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Oaxaca: Violent displacement of UCIZONI members for blockade of refinery in Salina Cruz (8 February 2015)


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)


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