Oaxaca: the Peace Network condemns armed attack against observation-caravan in San Juan Copalá

May 1, 2010

The civil organizations that constitute the Chiapas Peace Network strongly condemn the attack that members of a humanitarian caravan comprised of representatives of human-rights organizations, journalists, and international observers suffered on 27 April.  The caravan was en route to the community of San Juan Copalá in the Triqui region when it was ambushed and fired upon, presumably by individuals associated with the Union of Social Welfare for the Triqui Region (UBISORT), an organization linked to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) and claimed by some to be a paramilitary group.  The attack left two dead:  BEATRIZ ALBERTA CARIÑO TRUJILLO, member of the Center of Community Support Working Together A.C. (CACTUS) and JYRI ANTERO JAAKKOLA, a Finnish international observer, as well as a number of injured.

This attack was directed at a humanitarian, non-violent observation-caravan; it brings to mind the risks to which human-rights defenders and journalists are subject in México.  We express our concern for the vulnerable situation of those who work to defend and promote human rights in light of the increasing tendencies of violence, criminalization of such work, and governmental indifference to the protection of life and physical security of such workers.

Particularly grave, in our view, is the fact that, following the death of the Finn Jyri Antero Jaakkola during the attack, the Oaxacan state government is calling into question international observation, a non-violent mechanism of civil intervention that has served to put an end to violence in several locations and contexts.

The state government has denied responsibility for these acts of violence.  It should be said, though, that impunity regarding the several murders and violent acts that have been experienced in the Triqui region has contributed, at least by means of omission, to create a violent situation in the zone.  Finally,we find it worrisome that, as is often the case in Chiapas, the response to this attack be limited to a mere re-establishment of public order instead of an examination of the root causes of the violence that has been experienced in the Triqui region.

In light of the present situation, the organizations that comprise the Chiapas Peace Network demand

  • The immediate intervention of the State Attorney General’s Office of Oaxaca and of the Federal Attorney General’s Office, so that they engage in an impartial investigation, put an end to violence in the area, and punish the material and intellectual authors of these murders.
  • That immediate action be taken to address the violence that is experienced in Triqui communities, with special emphasis on respect and guarantees of internal dialogue
  • That the supposed paramilitary groups in the region be investigated and dismantled

  • That conditions which allow for the re-establishment of security for the entirety of the population without qualification be established–an eventuality we see as unlikely if the region is to be be militarized
  • That solutions be found to that which constituted the basis for the creation of the caravan–that is, the lack of access to basic services among the general population

Sincerely

Member-organizations of the Peace Network

Educación para la Paz (Edupaz)

Centro de Investigaciones Económicas y Políticas de Acción Comunitaria, A.C. (Ciepac)

Desarrollo Económico y Social de los Mexicanos Indígenas, A.C. (Desmi)

Servicio Internacional para la Paz (Sipaz)

Comisión de Apoyo a la Unidad y Reconciliación Comunitaria, A.C. (Coreco)

Enlace, Comunicación y Capacitación A.C. (Enlace CC)

Servicios y Asesoría para la Paz, A.C. (Serapaz)

Centro de Derechos de la Mujer de Chiapas, A.C. (CDMCH)

Centro de Derechos Indígenas, A.C. (Cediac)

Comité de Derechos Humanos Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada, A.C.

Centro de Derechos Humanos Fray Bartolomé de las Casas, A.C. (Frayba)

For more information from SIPAZ:

Oaxaca: Attack on observation caravan–2 dead and 4 missing (29 Abril 2010)

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Oaxaca: UNHCR and IACHR condemn assassination of two of Copala’s community radio announcers

April 18, 2008

Noticias/El Universal]

The victims, Teresa Bautista Merino and Felícitas Martínez Sánchez [Source: Noticias/El Universal]

On April 7, two indigenous Triqui women from the community radio station Radio Copala‑The Voice which Breaks the Silence were assassinated in a shooting ambush. The crime occurred in the town of San Juan Copala in the Mixteca region of Oaxaca, where the women were planning to participate in the State Gathering for the Defense of the Rights of the Indigenous People of Oaxaca.

The victims of the double homicide were Teresa Bautista Merino, aged 24 años, and Felícitas Martínez Sánchez, aged 20. As a result of the same attack, three others were wounded: Francisco Vásquez Martínez (30), his wife Cristina Martínez Flores (22), and their three-year-old son Jaciel Vásquez Martínez.

In a communiqué dated April 8, the Center for Community Support Working Together condemned the murders and demanded “a thorough investigation of the facts” and “appropriate punishment for the material and intellectual authors who have attacked the freedom of expression of our indigenous communities.” They assert that “once again we are experiencing events related to Oaxaca’s climate of violence and repression, always covered up by authorities at all levels.”

The Triqui community, according to reports in several newspapers on April 16, accuses certain leaders of the Popular Unity party of being the intellectual authors of the crime. They attribute the reason for the assassination to the radio station’s repeated denouncements of corruption in the area.

On 17 April, Office in Mexico of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), as well as the Office of the Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Expression of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) of the OAS publicly condemned the assassinations.

Previously, on March 27, 2007, the Special Rapporteur published a Special Study on the Assassination of Journalists (in Spanish only). This report highlighted that the majority of such cases occur in Colombia, Brazil and Mexico.

More information: