Displaced families continue to demand justice
During the commemoration in Banavil, Tenejapa, Chiapas. Photo @ SIPAZ
February 21 last marked one year since the death of Antonia Lopez Mendez, a Tseltal girl who died in a situation of forced displacement and without medical attention. Her family returned for two days to the community of Banavil in the municipality of Tenejapa to remember Antonia in accordance with their customs. In front of the tomb of the girl, her family recalled the suffering that they experience in forced displacement. Her mother, Maria Mendez, said, “Antonia left displaced and she became ill in San Cristobal de Las Casas. We have nowhere to live, no land, and she became ill for this reason and she couldn’t receive proper medical attention. She also sought our return and for this we remember her.” A caravan of some 90 people from social organizations, of human rights observers and free media, accompanied the displaced families on their return to their lands. This is the fourth time they returned provisionally having been displaced on December 4, 2011 by an attack by armed members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI). It is also worth remembering that since that date, Alonso Lopez Luna has been missing.
Likewise, February 23 marked one year since the forced displacement of 60 Tojolabales from the village of Primero de Agosto in the municipality of Las Margaritas. For one year, “when the ‘ejidatarios’ of Miguel Hidalgo forcefully displaced us from our village”, they have been living in a camp 15 minutes from their place of origin in precarious conditions. In the communiqué on the first anniversary of their displacement, they pointed out that, “as villagers we have put up with death threats, kidnapping, humiliation, harassment, one year of living under pieces of plastic, sleeping on wet ground, facing illnesses when our women and children are ill, a year of pain, a long year asking the federal, state, and municipal governments for a return to our village and for justice for those responsible for those criminal acts, who to date continue with impunity […] This year we have shared our pain with the world, we have walked to make new paths of peace and justice with dignity, and as campesinos we need land to be able to live and work because the land belongs to those who work it.” It is worth highlighting that on February 7 last, Marisa Fernandez Mendez Perez, a four-month-old baby dies due to the vulnerability of the conditions in which she was born. Apart from the displaced, various civil organizations, among them the Network for Peace (Red por la Paz) have asked “energetically that the State of Chiapas fulfils its agreements to bring about the conditions to resolve this situation of displacement.”
It is worth mentioning that at the end of 2014, the Fray Bartolome de Las Casas Centre for Human Rights (CDHFBC, also known as Frayba) launched a campaign, “Faces of Dispossession” with the objective of giving visibility to the problem of forced displacement in Chiapas, and which is included in what they refer to as “within the government strategies which systematically eliminate community culture and denies the full recognition of the collective rights of indigenous peoples.”
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