Chiapas: Masojá Shucjá, commemoration of the victims of the conflict of ’95 and ’96

October 7, 2011

On 1 October there was held a celebration in commemoration of the victims of the conflict of the years 1995 and 1996 in the northern zone of Chiapas.  It was held in the community of Masojá Shucjá, municipality of Tila, where 8 were killed at the hands of the organization “Paz y Justicia” during those years.

The event was attended not only by people of the community and neighboring ones but also by persons of other regions, including a delegation of the Las Abejas Civil Society (municipality of Chenalhó, in the highlands of Chiapas, which was another region that was particularly affected by violence at the end of the 1990s).  The choir of Las Abejas sang songs while a group of youth from this organization presented a theatrical work regarding the Acteal massacre of 1997.

Following the religious celebration and the play, participants at the event walked to a small pantheon where some of the victims have been buried; there, relatives of the dead and disappeared prayed and presented their word, as did present and past victims in addition to others invited to the celebration.  Four women from Jotalá spoke about how they experience violence today on the part of the government.  A resident of the Nuevo Retorno community gave his word by narrating how it was that those displaced from Miguel Alemán, a bastion of Paz y Justicia at the time, relocated themselves in 2002 to Nuevo Retorno after having lived for years in Masojá Shucjá.

The entire commemoration was a call to maintain alive memory and to continue demanding justice for the victims: Romeo Pérez Pérez, Minerva Guadalupe Pérez Torres, Mateo Hernández López, Juan Ramirez Torres, Hector Pérez Torres, Encarnación Pérez Pérez, Maria Rebeca Pérez Pérez, Sebastián Pérez López, among those who fell in Masojá.

A canvas explained what happened in the following manner:

In this place, where the waters cross, 15 years ago the Mexican government began to apply violence against the communities by means of a coordination among the military and the paramilitary organization Paz y Justicia.  In this way the Mexican government engaged in a politics of death in our Ch’ol region of the northern zone.

Our community was besieged and our brothers and sisters ambushed, disappeared, and executed.  They besieged us so that we would suffer hunger, fear, and disorganization.  In this way they brought us death.

Now we through prayer and celebration save our memory and create life.  Our memory is against forgetting; it is for true justice, so that these acts of death do not repeat themselves.  The armed conflict in Chiapas is part of a strategy of counter-insurgency; the Mexican government incentivized the creation of paramilitary groups in different regions of the conflict zone.

Among these paramilitary groups was distinguished for its cruelty and operative capacity the organization Paz y Justicia, which operated in the Ch’ol territory of the northern zone of Chiapas in the municipalities of Salto de Agua, Sabanilla, Tila, Tumbalá, Yajalón, and Sabanilla.  This documented counter-insurgency strategy left 122 cases of disappearances and executions in the period from 1995 to 2001, of which 37 were forced disappearances (32 men and 5 women) and 86 executions (74 men and 7 women).

All these actions were carried out by Paz y Justicia with the support of the Mexican Army and the Ministry of Public Security, resulting in over three thousand forced displacements.”

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: in Masojá Shucjá, memory and demand for justice for the victims of paramilitaries in 1995 and 1996 (7 October 2010)

Chiapas: 14 years after the forced disappearance of Minerva Pérez Torres by Paz y Justicia paramilitaries (30 June 2010)

Chiapas: commemoration of the victims of Paz y Justicia in Masojá Shucjá (3 September 2009)

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Chiapas: Jotolá, Freed detainees and new threats

November 23, 2009

On November 10th, Chiapas authorities freed four people accused of attacks against a lawyer from the Human Rights Center, Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (CDHFBC)) and indigenous members of The Other Campaign.  The attacks happened on September 18th in the ejido (cooperatively owned land) of Jotolá, in the municipality of Chilón. The arrest of the attackers was highly publicized, but they stayed in jail only for one week.  Yesterday, the attackers returned to the community and, according to members of The Other Campaign, threatening to take revenge. “Between one and three in the morning, the freed members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party [PRI] were seen inebriated and making threats outside of a house of the mother of Cándido Cruz, one of the members of The Other Campaign and a witness in the criminal proceedings against the freed attackers.” Also, members of The Other Campaign explained that “Later, when some of the women of Jotolá were traveling along the highway, the brothers Cruz Méndez and other members of the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Peasant Rights (Organización para la Defensa de los Derechos Indígenas y Campesinos (OPDDIC)) shouted ‘the members of The Other Campaign will be killed one by one and the women will be raped.’”

CDHFBC warned the cooperative ejido framers of The Other Campaign and their families of the imminent risk of attack by members of OPDDIC and asked the state government to take precautionary measures for the community.

In a press release about these latest events, CDHFBC also made “an emphatic denouncement of governor Juan Sabines Guerrero because this latest act of impunity confirms that the administration of the justice system is being used to suppress social protest . . . , and on the other hand conceal paramilitaries.”

For more information (in spanish):


For more information form de SIPAZ:
-SIPAZ: Urgent Action; Armed attack on  Human Rights workers in  Jotolá, Chiapas

    (24th of September 2009)

Chiapas: Arrest and high-alert situation in Jotolá (november 2009)


Chiapas: Arrests and high-alert situation in Jotola

November 13, 2009

Diego Cadenas Gordillo (Director del CDHFBC)

On November 7 the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas (Frayba) denounced the fact that members of the Organization for the Defense of Indigenous and Campesino Rights (Organizacion para la Defensa de los Derechos Indigenas, OPDDIC) were threatening to burn down the houses of members of the Zapatista-led “Other Campaign” in the community of Jotola, Chilon municipality. This latest action is apparently in retaliation for the arrest of four OPDDIC members by the state police on November 4th. The four are presumably linked to the attack against Frayba lawyer Ricardo Lagunes Gasca on September 18th and are accused of depriving him illegally of his freedom, injury and attempted murder.

On November 7 Frayba’s Director Diego Cadenas Gordillo said he had received reports that OPDDIC had two tanks of gasoline, presumably to be used to light the homes of the Other Campaign members on fire. Cadenas said that given the risks to the Other Campaign members he’d asked state authorities to implement preventive measures “to safeguard the rights, physical well-being, and the lives of the people involved in the conflict.”

For more information:

Alerta el Frayba (Expreso, 8 de noviembre)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Urgent Action: Armed attack on human rights workers in Jotola (Chiapas September 24th, 2009)


Chiapas: CDHFBC employee injured by OPDDIC in armed attack

September 21, 2009

http://sipaz.files.wordpress.com/2009/08/img_1152.jpg

An employee of the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas (Frayba) was brutally attacked on September 18th. The attack occurred in Ejido Jotola, in the municipality of Chilon. The attackers were armed and are members of OPDDIC – the Organization for the Defense of the Rights of Indigenous and Campesinos. Because of the seriousness of the attack, please find below the Frayba press release in its entirety.

“San Cristobal de Las Casas, Chiapas September 18th, 2009

Press Release No. 30

Frayba employee injured by OPDDIC in armed attack

The paramilitary group Organization for the Defense of the Rights of Indigenous and Campesinos (OPDDIC) has ambushed and attacked a Frayba member and shot and injured a resident of San Sebastian Bachajon.

Today, at approximately 12 noon, Frayba employee Ricardo Lagunes Gasca was attacked while he was travelling in the area of Tila. The event occurred when Ricardo stopped in Ejido Jotola, in the municipality of Chilon, to get information for a legal action he is undertaking in his role as lawyer for Frayba. The legal action is to defend residents of San Sebastian Bachajon who have been jailed. At the time, the people of San Sebastian Bachajon were holding a work meeting with the residents of Jotola, both of whom are supporters of The Other Campaign.

After getting up to date about the situation of the prisoners Ricardo tried to leave the place in one of Frayba’s vans, but approximately 40 meters ahead the road was closed with rocks and a tree trunk. Unable to continue along the road, he was forced to stop. Ricardo was then ambushed and beaten by a group of approximately 60 people armed with sticks, rocks, machetes and guns. The attackers were all members of OPDDIC. While beating him, they forced Ricardo out of the van and took the car keys to try to take him to an unknown location.

Despite Ricardo’s attempts to talk to the OPDDIC members, the attack continued, putting his life in danger. The residents of Jotola and San Sebastian Bachajon (supporters of the Other Campaign) came to his aid and the OPDDIC attackers became distracted. Ricardo used this opportunity to flee, leaving all his belongings in the van.

After the intervention of the Other Campaign members the OPDDIC attackers reacted by shooting their guns, resulting in a bullet wound in the thigh of the left leg of Mr. Carmen Aguilar Gomez the 2nd, resident of San Sebastian Bachajon. After the gun attack, the Other Campaign members fled to avoid more confrontation with the OPDDIC. Despite this, the OPDDIC attackers surrounded the residents’ homes and threatened to come in as well as take over the main meeting hall by force.

As of 4:00 pm today (Friday) Frayba employees had received information from the residents of Ejido Jotola saying they have sought shelter in their homes. The residents have told us that approximately 20 people from OPDDIC are on guard with guns of various calibers and they have taken possession of the main meeting hall.

Background:

In the morning prior to the attack residents of Jotola saw individuals from the Preventative Police force (PEP) interviewing members of OPDDIC. According to several witnesses they could hear the OPDDIC members saying they were going to enter the main meeting hall and destroy the sign and attack the followers of the Other Campaign. Moments later, when Ricardo got in his vehicle, men and women from OPDDIC blocked the way even though our colleague identified himself as a worker from the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolome de Las Casas.

While the residents of Jotola and Bachajon were together in the meeting hall in the morning, members of OPDDIC were gathered 40 meters away where there was a patrol of the Preventative Police (PEP). The individuals of the Preventative Police maintained a dialogue with the OPDDIC. The events occurred after a sign had been placed in the meeting hall – the same one that had been robbed by members of OPDDIC the week before.

On August 20th residents of Jotola and Bachajon who are followers of the Other Campaign held a press conference to denounce the climate if harassment and threats because of OPDDIC. It was revealed at this time that those responsible for the harassment were originally from the communities of Jotola and Bachjon. They had previously been expelled from Monte Libano and had outstanding arrest warrants for murder and rape.

Also during the press conference Nemesio Ponce Sanchez, the General undersecretary of the government, was denounced for refusing to meet with the residents who had completed their promise of meeting in the offices of Frayba. They were supposed to fix a deadline for releasing two of the eight indigenous tseltals who remain behind bars in CERSS No. 14, also known as “El Amate”. The prisoners have been accused of criminal association and armed robbery, both false accusations as revealed by Frayba.

Later that same day the residents called Frayba to report they were being harassed by members of the Preventative Police (PEP) and there were patrols set up close to their homes, and especially close to the house of the head of the cooperative land association, Pascual Sanchez Perez. Since then, the PEP has maintained permanent patrols. A the beginning of September an official source told Frayba the accusations made at the August 20th press conference bothered General undersecretary Nemesio Ponce Sanchez. Apparently Ponce Sanchez had ordered officers of the Ministerial and Preventative Police to detain Pascual Sanchez Perez, the head of the cooperative land association, and professor Ricardo Sanchez, the spokesperson for Jotola, during the press conference.

Frayba condemns this act of aggression. It is an act of aggression that has been carried out within a context of hostility as well as the targeting different actors and methods of communication that work for the defense of human rights. Frayba points out the role the State government, including that of Juan Sabines Guererro, as promoters of aggression that goes against the work of this human rights center in areas of defense and accompaniment.

List of OPDDIC attackers as identified in Jotola:

1. Agustin Hernandez Santis ? (carried and fired a shotgun)

2. Guadelupe Cruz Mendez ? (carried a .22 rifle and a pistol, fired and shot Carmen Aguilar.)

3. Medardo Cruz Mendez ? (carried a .22 rifle)

4. Miguel Gomez Hernandez ? (carried .22 rifle and 16-shot semi-automatic)

5. Manuel Moreno Perez ? (carried a machete and stick)

6. Daniel Moreno Perez ? (carried a gun)

7. Rogelio Cruz Mendez (carried a shotgun)

8. Eva Guzman Hernandez

9. Ernestina Guzman Hernandez

10. Margarita Miranda Perez

11. Marian Sanchez Sanchez

12. Ofelia Cruz Jimenez

13. Maria Hernandez Lopez

14. Maria Elena Gomez Lopez

15. Ema Maria Sanchez Gomez

16. Juana Sanchez Gomez

17. Juan Cruz Mendez ? (carried a pistol)

18. Leandro Mendez Hernandez.”

For more informationn (in Spanish):

Ataca Opddic en Chiapas a ejidatarios adherentes a la Otra Campaña (Jornada, 19/09/09)