Child victims of the war in Chiapas
A public apology without the aggressor present; they accuse the armed forces of being a power superior to the civilian government
Pedro Faro, Director of Frayba (speaking), government officials and the victims (the 4 on the right) at the public apology.
By: Angeles Mariscal
Ever since military personnel arrived in Chiapas in 1994 to carry out actions against the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), the human rights violations increased: Frayba
The federal government asks the parents of Angel, Ricardo and José, victims of the explosion of a military grenade, for public forgiveness. Representatives of the Armed Forces refused to attend the event, whose realization was brought about with the intervention of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR).
Angel Díaz Cruz, just 9 years old, died from the impact of an anti-personnel grenade that Mexican Army personnel had “forgotten” some 500 metres away from El Aguaje community, in the municipio of San Cristóbal de las Casas. Ricardo and José López Hernández were injured.
The acts occurred in September 2000. Now, 15 years later, the Mexican government held a public act of recognition of the Mexican State’s responsibility, and asked the family members of the victims for forgiveness.
The big absence at the event were any representatives from the Armed Forces, whose members utilized a piece of land as a training field that the El Aguaje community used to collect mushrooms and to graze their flocks of sheep.
“The only thing that these poor children did was to look for mushrooms to eat.” They saw the grenade and thought it was a toy, and they brought it inside of the house where it exploded, explained the father of Ricardo and José, who also spoke in the name of Cristina Reyna Cruz López, Angel’s mother.
“My family and the residents of El Aguaje are now obliged to live with all kinds of noises provoked by the explosives, the mortars and the machine guns, which provoked a lot of fear,” he remembered.
The family of the injured boys and of Angel denounced the act to judicial authorities. The Military Prosecutor’s Office demanded jurisdiction over the investigations and, beginning at that moment, access to the record was closed to the family and its representatives, without reparations being made for damages or medical attention being given to the two survivors.
With help from the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba), the family took the case to the IACHR, which after several years of investigations, concluded that the Mexican government was responsible for not carrying out its practices in safe zones far from the civilian population, and that it denied the victims access to justice upon bringing the case to military jurisdiction.
According to the Mexican government, Infantry Major Raúl Anguiano Zamora and Lieutenant Emilio Sariñana Marrufo were arrested for these acts. The families don’t know what the penalty given to them was because they were never notified of the process.
The IACHR asked the government and the victim to reach an agreement for an amicable solution, which includes the public apology that took place today, and that Homero Campa Cifrián, Assistant Secretary of Human Rights for the Secretariat of Governance gave, as well as the Governor of Chiapas, Manuel Velasco Coello.
Homero Campa reported that the families would be indemnified for the damages and that a school will be constructed in El Aguaje that carries the name of Angel Díaz Cruz.
Pedro Faro, current director of the Frayba, explained that the IACHR has had to intervene in three other cases where the Mexican Army has violated the human rights of Chiapas residents, in situations that include the torture and homicide of civilians where they arrived to set up their camps.
He explained that ever since military members came to Chiapas in 1994 to carry out actions against the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN), human rights violations have increased.
Faro emphasized that despite the fact that the Mexican government has committed to stop human rights violations, the Mexican Army has maintained the contrary. “Today we lack the principal character of this story (…) The Mexican Army is not present because it is untouchable in Mexico; it’s clear to us that it is a supra power to civilian government,” he emphasized.
For his part, José López Cruz demanded that the agreements the Mexican government signed today “are totally fulfilled.”
Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo
Friday, January 29, 2016
Re-published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee
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