Aggressions and threats against defenders and journalists increased in Chiapas

** NGOs denounce acts of “vigilance and harassment” that occurred recently

** TDT Network calls on authorities to guaranty “the important work” that they do

Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, July 17, 2014

Dozens of the country’s human rights organisms agreed that aggressions and threats against defenders, as well as against journalists, have increased in different parts of Chiapas.

The 74 organizations that make up the National Network of Civil Human Rights Organisms All Rights for Everyone (Red TDT, in Spanish) expressed concern “because of the risk that our defender and journalist colleagues confront in the state of Chiapas,” because of acts of “vigilance, harassment, threats and aggressions” on recent dates.

Ante “the grave context” in Chiapas, the Red TDT, with a presence in 20 states, urged authorities to guaranty conditions for “the important work” of defenders and journalists. “Sustained labor for the defense of rights and the freedom of expression is essential in any democratic society.”

The most dangerous states

According to the Red TDT, the states with the highest indices of aggressions against defenders are Chiapas, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Puebla and the Federal District. “It was confirmed with the grave tendency” registered in the first half of the year. Defense in Mexico “continues representing a challenge, not just because of the complex context” of the country, (but) “also because of the lack of recognition of this work on the part of the authorities and society itself.”

Documented cases

La Red TDT lists four cases. On May 29, judicial police “arbitrarily” detained the Tseltal defender Mario Marcelino Ruiz Mendoza, of Services and Advice for Peace, and the 20 indigenous representatives that he was accompanying during a dialogue process between the Lacandón Community’s communal wealth commission, the Rural Association of Collective Interest Union of Unions Democratic and Independent and the state government. It was an action “of disdain, harassment, discrimination and conditioning to the dialogue about the peoples that it seeks to evict from the Montes Azules.” Later, “without any official explanation,” they were released.

On June 11, the Frayba denounced before the Special Counsel for Protection and Attention to Non-Governmental Organisms for the Defense of Human Rights, “acts of harassment and vigilance” registered in April and May in San Cristóbal de Las Casas. Before and after, the Frayba “has documented telephone intervention, hacking of emails, vigilance, following, defamation, prosecution and threats in some territories, which have sharpened alarmingly in recent months.”

On June 13, Marcelo Pérez Pérez, the parish priest in Simojovel received death threats. There were aggressions and criminalization against members of the Parochial Council and Pueblo Creyente in that location, for denouncing “the proliferation of drug and alcohol consumption with the consent of municipal authorities.”

On June 23, writer Javier Molina, a reporter for La Jornada, denounced that federal police “irrupted into his domicile breaking down the doors,” alleging that the house was pointed out “as a point of sale for drugs” in an “anonymous denunciation.” They never showed a search warrant or a denunciation, and afterwards the authorities recanted. “The free media, independent communicators and journalists in the state have also repeatedly denounced this pattern of harassment, ” the Network warns.

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