Zapatista News Summary for October 2015
- The 57 displaced Tojolabal families from Primero de Agosto community denounce threats of a new displacement. They have been threatened with firearms by members of CIOAC-H. Frayba issues an Urgent Action, saying their lives are at risk, along with their personal security and physical integrity. They have now been displaced for 8 months.
- “The Other Justice” Forum. On 10th and 11th October, more than 200 indigenous from Chiapas meet in Acteal, Chenalhó, Mexico, for the Forum on “The Other Justice” organized by the Civil Society Las Abejas, the X’inich Committee for the Defence of Freedom, and Peoples United in Defence of Electrical Energy (PUDEE). A joint declaration is issued from the peoples, communities and organizations from the Walking the Other Justice Forum: “Only by walking together will we reach The Other Justice, True Justice, which is righteous and humane.”
- Acteal victims testify at a hearing in Washington. On 20th October, the Civil Society Las Abejas, together with the Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Centre for Human Rights (Frayba), participate in a public audience before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) in Washington, DC, regarding impunity in the case of the Acteal massacre of 22nd December, 1997. Evidence is brought to show that the Mexican state was responsible for the massacre and the lack of investigation, sanction, and compensation for the victims. However, the official representative of the Mexican government rejects all responsibility for the atrocity.
- Las Abejas will have no friendly resolution. After the audience before the IACHR, Las Abejas hold a press conference in which they denounce the “cynicism of the Mexican State in denying its responsibility for the Acteal massacre. We say that we will NOT accept coming to a friendly resolution with the Mexican State.”
- Risks to the lives of priest and parish council of Simojovel. The IACHR grants precautionary measures in favour of Father Marcelo Pérez Pérez and 10 more human rights defenders, members of the Pueblo Creyente and the Parish Council from the community of Simojovel. Frayba makes clear that the risk to their lives and integrity continues daily. The Mexican authorities are called on by many human rights organisations to immediately take appropriate measure to guarantee their safety.
- Estaban Gómez Jiménez, from San Sebastián Bachajón, imprisoned since 2013 and currently held in the Social Rehabilitation Centre (Cereso) No. 14, El Amate, denounces in a communiqué that the state authorities of Chiapas have denied him a transfer to a prison near San Cristobal de las Casas, so he can be nearer to his family. He explains how he has now been imprisoned unjustly, for a crime he did not commit, for 3 years 5 months.
- Criminalisation of ejidatarios affected by the Chicoasén II dam. The lawyer for the Ejidal Committee of those affected by the Chicoasén II dam, Arturo Ortega Luna, is arrested. He has been accompanying the indigenous Zoque peoples in their struggle against the dam. Frayba demands his immediate release and the cancellation of at least 11 outstanding arrest warrants against elderly Zoques for defending their rights to the land, and an end to the criminalisation of the struggle for the land.
- Femicides on the rise in Chiapas. In fewer than 10 days, six women are killed: three of them also sexually assaulted, one was a minor, another was pregnant, and some of the corpses showed signs of serious violence. There have been 249 cases in the last 3 years; in Chiapas femicide is principally perpetrated by those close to the victims, in the majority of cases by relatives.
- Death in custody following torture. The family of José Rolando Pérez de la Cruz protest, in front of the government palace in the capital of Chiapas, at his death in custody following torture by the municipal police of Acala, one year and eight months ago. They demand justice.
- Banavil. The 19 members of the families displaced from Banavil return temporarily to their community to make an offering, according to their customs and traditions at this time of year, at the graves of: Antonia López Méndez who died, at the age of 11, on 21st February, 2015 as a result of their forced displacement, and of her 2 sisters, Petrona and María López Méndez. The families are accompanied by a caravan of human rights observers and national and international individuals and organisations in solidarity.
- IAHCR visit concludes. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) presents its preliminary conclusions, after its visit to Mexico, speaking of “the grave human-rights crisis experienced in Mexico, as characterized by an extreme situation of insecurity and violence and grave human rights violations.” The “lack of access to justice” has generated a structural situation of impunity, they said.
- UN assessment of Mexican human rights situation. The UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein, meets with President Peña Nieto on October 7 and gives a press conference in which he states his assessment of Mexico’s human rights situation. The U.N.’s human rights commissioner says that Mexico has a 98 percent impunity rate, and most crimes aren’t even investigated. More than 151,230 people have been murdered in Mexico since December 2006, including thousands of Central American migrants making the dangerous trek through the country toward the United States.
- US Merida Initiative funds withheld. The country’s failure to protect human rights leads to the US state department withholding 15% or nearly US$5 million in anti-drug funds to Mexico.
- Torture reaches catastrophic levels. According to Amnesty International, Mexico’s torture epidemic continues, reaching “catastrophic levels in the past year, with more than double the number of reports at the federal level of suffocation, rape and other sexual abuse, electric shocks and beatings." In 2014 torture complaints against the Mexican government more than doubled to 2,403, while thousands more remain unreported for reasons of fear and intimidation against the victims and their families. Homicides increased by 6.6 percent, and over 965 kidnappings have been reported so far this year.
- Construction of wind farm suspended. On 12th October, representatives from the indigenous Binni’zaa (Zapotec) community from Juchitán de Zaragoza report that, following the amparo they had submitted against the construction and the operation of the megaproject advanced by the Southern Wind Energy Corporation on their lands, a judicial order has been made to suspend all the authorizations, permits, approvals, licenses, and land-use changes awarded by local and federal officials. They report a resulting increase in harassment.
- Increase in attacks on human rights defenders. A major new report co-authored by International Service for Human Rights shows that human rights defenders in Mexico face worsening and often deadly risks, that the vast majority of attacks against defenders are not adequately investigated or remedied, and that greater political and financial commitment is necessary to make the Law on the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists in the country effective. The spectrum of violations against defenders includes murders, enforced disappearances, surveillance, criminalisation, and slander. They say that deep-seated, structural impunity facilitates and perpetuates these violations against defenders.
- Institutionalised racism against indigenous. At the conference “Indigenous Peoples: Social Disadvantages, Access to Rights and Justice,” various indigenous leaders convene to discuss the structural problems their people face in Mexico, home to nearly 16 million indigenous people. They say that stereotypes in Mexico exclude indigenous people from developing policy to address their problems. More than 8,000 indigenous people are serving sentences in Mexico’s state and federal prisons because of institutionalized racism.
- Ayotzinapa. The IACHR accept a proposal to allow a group of experts to continue their investigation of the disappearance of the 43 students last year. The Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts will stay a further six months in the country. In a mass protest marking the 13-month anniversary of the disappearance, the parents of the 43 demand the government of Enrique Peña Nieto secure the safe return of their children and allow for an investigation of the army battalion suspected of having been active in the area at the time of their disappearance.
- Supreme Court postpones decision on GM soya in Mayan territory. The Supreme Court of Justice of the Nation postpone their decision about the three amparos filed by the Maya beekeepers of Yucatan and Campeche against the granting of permission for Monsanto and others to plant GM soya beans in the Yucatan Peninsula. This would put an end to the traditional honey production in the area.
- Mexico now deports more Central Americans than the US. Official figures show that the Southern Border Programme increases the number of deportations and risks for migrants, more of whom are now arrested in Mexico than in the US. In seven months, 92,889 undocumented migrants were detained; during the same period, the US Migraarrested 70,448.
For more detailed Chiapas news: https://dorsetchiapassolidarity.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/boca-en-boca-37-in-english-october-2015/