Chiapas: 14 years after the forced disappearance of Minerva Pérez Torres by paramilitaries of Paz y Justicia

July 5, 2010

On June 20, 1996, Minerva Guadalupe Pérez Torres became a victim of forced disappearance. While she was originally from Masojá Shucjá in the municipality of Tila, the offense was carried out by 30 members of the paramilitary group Paz y Justicia in the community of German Miguel. 14 years later, the Human Rights Center Fray Bartolomé de las Casas (CDHFBC)  has recalled this and other disappearances, noting that the State has not complied with the obligation to handle these as crimes against humanity as defined by the International Criminal Court.

According to a bulletin from CDHFBC, “despite its obligations, the state has not complied and continues to deny the existence of paramilitary groups in Chiapas, which contradicts the contents of the report on Criminal and Subversive Groups in Chiapas, headed by General of Chiapas state government, dated May 27, 2009, where there appears a  descriptive file on the paramilitary group Paz y Justicia, their links to the state through the Mexican army, and their financing via public resources from Campo and Desarrollo Social de Chiapas. The report shows why it is believed that these groups had relationships with state political operatives who have participated in and continue to participate with this policy against the indigenous peoples ¹.”

¹Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas, Derechos Humanos en Chiapas, Frayba, Balance Anual 2009, véase en: http://www.frayba.org.mx/archivo/informes/100609_balance_anual_2009_digital.pdf

For more information (in Spanish):

Complete CDHFBC bulletin (pdf) (23/06/2010)

For more information from SIPAZ (in English):

Chiapas: memorial in Masojá Shucjá for the victims of the Paz y Justicia paramilitary group (07/09/2009)

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Chiapas: Memorial in Masojá Shucjá for the victims of the Peace and Justice paramilitary group

September 7, 2009
Masoja Shucjá @sipaz

The Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center was invited. The communities that have suffered the same situation of war were invited. Other organizations were invited. The press was invited.

In the northern region of Chiapas the community of Masojá Shucjá wants its dead to be remembered and continues to demand justice. But more than ten years later, justice has yet to be served.

This past August 30th members of the Civil Resistance Movement Against High Electricity Rates (also belonging to PUDEE – People United for the Defense of Electrical Energy) and followers of The Other Campaign built an altar with flowers, candles and photos in Masojá Shucjá. The altar was raised not only in memory of those from Masojá Shucjá who have been killed and disappeared, but also in honor of the one hundred victims of the Peace and Justice paramilitaries in the northern region of Chiapas.

The Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center’s 2008 Annual report reflected on the situation of human rights situation in Chiapas: “The internal armed conflict in Chiapas remains unresolved. As part of the Mexican government’s counterinsurgency strategy incentives were given to start paramilitary groups in specific regions of the conflict zone. Among these paramilitary groups the Peace and Justice is known for its cruelty and operative capacity in the Chol territory of the northern region, which includes the municipalities of Salto de Agua, Tila, Tumbala, Yajalon and Sabanilla. The counterinsurgency strategy, which has been documented by this Human Rights Center, has resulted in 122 cases of disappearances and executions from 1995 until 2001. Among the 122 dead, 37 were forced disappearances (32 men and 5 women) and 86 were executions (79 men and 7 women).”

Besides the imprisonment of five Peace and Justice leaders from 2001 to 2002, these crimes remain unpunished. On top of that it is feared that in the same way that perpetrators were released in the Acteal case, the few who have been sentenced in the northern region could be released as well.

By candlelight at dawn on Sunday August 30th, indigenous Choles from Masojá Shucjá began to pray for their dead relatives and for peace. After sharing tamales and coffee the church filled for a memorial mass. At the end of the mass survivors and relatives of the victims gave testimony and shared in their ever-present pain. In the words of the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Human Rights Center, when justice doesn’t come from above, it has to be built from the bottom up. This implies always remembering, never forgetting.

For more information (in Spanish):

Indígenas de Chiapas exigen “justicia divina y terrenal” para sus muertos

Balance anual 2008, sobre la situación de Derechos Humanos en Chiapas (Capitulo 4. Memoria Histórica. Crímenes de lesa humanidad en Chiapas: una política de Estado)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Northern Region: a Powder Keg of violence (1999)

– The Tragedy of the Choles: a people torn apart by violence (1997)