There has been State violence against the Zapatistas, the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples concludes

** The integral repair of damages is obliged, it resolves in the pre-hearing

** Sufficient evidence is available “to presume the commission of crimes against humanity”

By: Hermann Bellinghausen, Envoy

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, July 19, 2014

In El Limonar community, in the jungle north of Ocosingo, they held a pre-hearing this Friday of the Permanent Tribunal of the Peoples (TPP, its initials in Spanish), an international instance that will culminate its México chapter next November, when “it will denounce and make visible to national and international public opinion the grave human rights violations that the State committed,” unpunished as of this date.

The tribunal considers that there is sufficient evidence “to presume the commission of crimes against humanity” by the Mexican State, which “identified certain populations that constituted or were able to constitute a social base for the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, its initials in Spanish) and, based on that, defined an ‘internal enemy,’ the object of a counterinsurgency strategy that included thousands of Tzotzil, Tzeltal, Chol and Zoque civilians, belonging to Las Abejas, Xi’nich [1], sympathizers and the EZLN’s support bases.”

The pronouncement emphasizes that State violence was not directed “only against combatants, but also against the non-combatant civilian population, including children,” which “demonstrates that the only factor common to all the victims was their belonging to determined organizations,” and shows that these acts were committed “with the intention of destroying such groups totally or partially.”

Witnesses and survivors of acts of great violence in Chol communities of the Northern Zone participated in El Limonar (Jolnixtié Sección I, Miguel Alemán, Usipá, El Limar, Saquil, Susuclumil, Masojá Shucjá, Masojá Grande y Chuctiejá); Tzotziles of Chenalhó, members of Civil Society Las Abejas of Acteal, and those displaced from Viejo Velasco, all “victims of the war strategy of counterinsurgency and of extermination contemplated in the Chiapas 94 Campaign Plan and implemented by the Mexican government at the start of the EZLN’s armed uprising, which yielded as a consequence dozens of forced disappearances, murders, forced displacements, sexual violence and massacres: crimes against humanity that continue unpunished,” exposes the pronouncement of the pre-hearing.

The pre-hearing was convoked by 50 national and international popular, student, social and human rights organizations, as well as the 74 organisms that make up the National Network of Civil and Human Rights Organisms All Rights for All, the Network of Community Radios (AMARC, its initials in Spanish) that groups together 35 radio projects, the 42 organizations from the National Campaign Against Forced Disappearance in Mexico, and Chiapas Peace Network, made up of 10 organizations.

Alejandro Cerezo Contreras, Alejandro de Jesús Martínez Martínez, and the Tzeltal arrangers Carlos Núñez Ruiz and Juan Méndez Gutiérrez, Joel Heredia and Rubén R. García Clark participated as national judges. They decided that the three cases examined “are framed within social and political struggles of the peoples and communities for the recognition and vindication of the identity and indigenous rights.”

The tribunal resolved that: “violations were committed to the human rights of the indigenous peoples in the Northern Zone, Viejo Velasco [2] and Acteal, by conduct that derived from the behavior of paramilitary groups like Paz y Justicia, or residents of the Nueva Palestina community, or in Chenalhó, always “organized by federal, state and municipal authorities.” [Emphasis supplied.]

The Mexican State “is obligated to integrally repair the damages,” the tribunal determined. It recognized in the declarants firmness, dignity, certainty of their memory, and a search for justice and truth. It also recognized “their bravery before the threats that can emerge after pre-hearings.”

Finally, the TPP said it observed with concern the events in the La Realidad community, “where José Luis Solís López (Votán Galeano) was extra-judicially executed, signifying the continuity of the counterinsurgency policy in Chiapas.”

[1] Xi’nich means “The ants” in Chol, a Mayan language. It originated as an indigenous Catholic campesino organization, similar to Las Abejas (the Bees). Its members lived in Viejo Velasco.

[2] For background on the Viejo Velasco Massacre in Chiapas, please see: http://compamanuel.wordpress.com/2014/02/05/murder-in-the-lacandon-jungle-background-on-viejo-velasco-massacre/

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