By Hermann Bellinghausen
La Jornada, Thursday, December 5, 2013
San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas. Las Abejas of Acteal announced on Wednesday that they will testify to the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal about serious violations of human rights. The chairman of the board of the organization, Rosendo Gómez Hernández, recalled the context of the cases which will be presented at the prehearing of the TPP in the community of Susuclumil, municipality of Tila, on the 6th and 7th of this month.
"On the first of January, 1994, the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) rose up in arms against the Mexican government and the federal army, in support of the indigenous communities and the people of Mexico. At this time, the State launched the Chiapas 94 Plan of Campaign, with the aim of putting an end to the EZLN. Under this counterinsurgency strategy, militarization increased in the jungle, north and highland regions in the state of Chiapas, along with violations of the human rights of the population, mainly indigenous."
“This strategy,” added the Tzotzil representative, looked at paramilitarisation, "which means using our own indigenous brothers to do the dirty work of the army and police, and commit executions, enforced disappearances and forced displacements." Thus the violence increased between 1995 and 2000 in the traditionally Chol northern region, "with the operation of the paramilitary group Development Peace and Justice [Desarrollo Paz y Justicia], which was responsible for 37 executions and 85 disappearances."
In the Highlands, a paramilitary group affiliated to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) "committed the forced displacement of thousands of people and assassinations." The "strategy of death", was "made visible" by the massacre at Acteal on 22nd December, 1997. The paramilitaries "were identified". Besides "they acted with weapons reserved for the exclusive use of the Mexican Army, with the consent and protection of the different levels of municipal, state and federal government."
The current representative of Las Abejas recalls: "Faced with the constant denunciations, openly released, for example to the law enforcement authorities, the government did not act, and there was an increase in human rights violations, committed both by paramilitary groups and by the police and the federal army." This led to more than 12,000 displaced persons "in the northern and highland regions of Chiapas alone," who fled "in the face of the continuing executions, disappearances, house burnings, theft of crops, looting, harassment, intimidation, arbitrary arrests and torture." Today, these acts "remain unpunished".
In the session of the TPP, Gómez Hernández anticipates, the murders, also unpunished, which took place on November 13th, 2006 in the Tzeltal village of Viejo Velasco, in the Lacandón jungle, within the municipality of Ocosingo, will be presented. "So far there has been no sign of the whereabouts of two of the four missing", who must be added to the killing of six others during that police attack. Of the other two missing, their skeletal remains have been found.
Under the pretext of expelling them from the Montes Azules reserve, endorsed by the government to the so-called "Lacandón community," the displacement of its inhabitants was provoked, "in the context of the struggle to establish the right to the territory and to safeguard and manage the natural resources of the communities in the Lacandón jungle."
For Las Abejas, the presentation of this evidence at the prehearing of the TPP "Mexico chapter" will be "a historic event" where "the word of the survivors, witnesses and family members about the grave human rights violations" committed in the Northern Zone, Acteal, and Viejo Velasco will raise "the demand for justice and truth."