On Monday April 13 2009, Jernimo Gmez Saragos, Antonio Gmez Saragos, Miguel Demeza Jimnez, Sebastin Demeza Deara, Pedro Demeza Deara and Jernimo Moreno Deara, indigenous Tzeltal residents of the ejido of San Sebastin Bachajn, municipality of Chiln, were detained by members of the Polcia Preventiva del Estado (PEP) (the Preventive State Police Force). They are adherents to The Other Campaign, a political effort organized by the Zapatista Army for National Liberation (EZLN) in 2005. Currently they are being held in the municipality of Chiapas de Corzo in a casa de arraigo, an unofficial detention facility called Quinta Pitiquito.
The Human Rights Centre Fray Bartolom de las Casas (CDHFBC) denounced their arbitrary detention, the acts of torture and other cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment or punishment carried out against the six detainees as well as violations of their legal rights. After interviewing the six persons in the pre-charge detention centre, an urgent action was issued as well as several communiqus including their statements regarding the human rights violations they suffered during their arbitrary detention and afterwards in the pre-charge detention centre Quinta Pitiquito in the municipality of Chiapa de Corzo. Once there, they were denied their right to a fair trial, including the right to an interpreter that speaks the detainees native language and to a lawyer with the familiar with the detainees culture in order to guarantee an adequate legal defense in accordance with the Mexican Constitution.
Furthermore, the office of the Procurador General de Justicia del Estado (PGJE) (State Attorney General) paid for and published the photos of the six detainees in two daily newspapers, La Jornada and Cuarto Poder, describing them as assailants, not only violating their honour and dignity but, as they have yet to be convicted of any charges, branding them as criminals before society is a clear attack on the right of presumption of innocence.
On April 15 adherents to The Other Campaign from the ejido San Sebastin Bachajn set up a roadblock at the crossroad of Agua Azul, municipality of Chiln, to demand the liberation of the six detainees. According to witness testimonies, at around 5 p.m the same day at the roadbloack two Army trucks and a another truck arrived and fired six times into the air. The roadblock was maintained in spite of this intimidation, although official sources announced that federal forces would clear the road block.
Around noon on April 17 the CDHFBC received information of 800 police officials approaching Agua Azul, municipality of Chiln, where the road block was being held. In a later update to the Urgent Action, the Human Rights Centre informed that when the police arrived at the roadblock, the demonstrators had already decided to dismantle it. Despite the peaceful attitude displayed by the members of The Other Campaign to avoid confrontations, the police carried out several provocative actions. They stole money and documents that the adherents to The Other Campaign had kept in the tollbooth that was placed at the entrance of the tourist centre at the Agua Azul waterfall that was recuperated on June 18 2008, and later on destroyed it.
On April 18 the PEP kept detachments at the crossroad at Agua Azul and in Xanil, where intermittent patrols were carried out by the State Preventive Police forces and the State Highway Patrol, as well as helicopter flyovers near the site of the demonstration.
This very same day members of the CDHFBC received information of the detention of Alfredo Gmez Moreno, from the community of Xanil, apparently by members of the PEP through information delivered by Juan Carlos Jimnez Hernndez, member of the Organizacin Para la Defensa de los Derechos Indgenas y Campesinos (OPDDIC) (Organization for the Defense and Rights of Indigenous People and Campesinos), who was accompanying the police. The CDHFBC noted that the relationship between members of the OPDDIC, the Public Security Forces and the investigative authorities has been a recurring pattern in the region, with the main goal being to frame adherents of The Other Campaign and members of the EZLN.
On the morning of April 19, the same Human Rights Centre received a phone call from members of The Other Campaign with information regarding the detention of Miguel Vzquez Moreno, identified as a EZLN support base, at the crossroads of Agua Azul on April 18 at 9 pm. He was detained by members of the PEP. At the moment nothing is known about his whereabouts and even less about his legal situation. The other two persons that were traveling with Miguel were arbitrarily detained in their own vehicle from 9 pm until 2 am on Sunday.
In several newspapers in Chiapas on April 21 the participants in the roadblock, installed in solidarity with and to demand the liberation of the six detainees, were depicted as members of a criminal gang. Businessmen from the Jungle region in Chiapas expressed their regret that the Human Rights Centre Fray Bartolom de las Casas defends criminals.
Independent of the criminal actions that have yet to be proven, any democratic state accepting the rule of law prohibits and criminalizes any violation of human rights against any human being. It is also important to recall that not only is the State the sole guarantor of the human rights, but it solely can be found guilty by action or omission of these violations.
Before these clear violations and the risk that more arbitrary human rights violations are committed against members of The Other Campaign from the ejido San Sebastin Bachajn, SIPAZ urges the civil society to request:
• The immediate release of those detained in Quinta Pitiquito, Tuxtla Gutirrez having suffered violations to their human rights.
• That an investigation be opened on the police and State Attorney General employees that participated in these actions.
• That the right to demonstrate and protest be guaranteed along with the physical integrity of the members of The Other Campaign in the ejido San Sebastin Bachajn, municipality of Chiln, for having denounced the arbitrary actions by the State and Federal authorities.
• An end to the criminalization, disrespect, and violation of the dignity of the detainees through the publication of their photos in the media as if they had already been sentenced and found guilty of the accusations.
• That pacific solutions and dialogue be sought in order to resolve the social demands of peoples and their organizations, as well as the immediate liberation of those detained.
• That the work of Human Rights defenders be respected and that a culture of human rights may be promoted in the State where organizations defending and promoting the individual and collectives guarantees can carry out their work without being labeled as defenders of criminals.
• That the rights of the indigenous peoples be respected and that the state does not fall into the temptation of resolving disagreements over the demand for autonomy through massacres such as the one carried out in Chinkultik on October 3rd of last year.
Respetado XXX (Title and profession),
A travs de la presente, queremos expresar nuestra fuerte preocupacin por una serie de hechos derivados de la detencin de 6 Indgenas Tzeltales habitantes del Ejido San Sebastin Bachajn, municipio de Chiln, Chiapas. Los detenidos sufrieron entre otros: tortura, malos tratos; falta de acceso adecuado a asistencia jurdica y a un traductor que hable su idioma; incomunicacin; estigmatizacin en medios de comunicacin.
Por otro lado, integrantes de la Otra Campaa del ejido San Sebastin Bachajn organizaron un bloqueo para exigir la liberacin de los detenidos. Unos das despus se detuvo a dos personas que fueron reportadas desaparecidas por varios das. Tambin se denunciaron mltiples acciones de represin y criminalizacin de la protesta social y de defensores de derechos humanos que han dado seguimiento a los casos.
Por ello, le exhortamos a:
• Liberar inmediatamente a las personas arraigadas en la Quinta Pitiquitos, en Tuxtla Gutirrez por haber sido objeto de violaciones a derechos humanos.
• Investigar a los elementos policacos y funcionarios de la Procuradura General de Justicia del Estado, que participaron en los hechos.
• Garantizar el derecho de manifestacin y protesta, as como la integridad personal los miembros de la Otra Campaa del ejido San Sebastin Bachajn, Municipio de Chiln, por denunciar los actos arbitrarios de autoridades estatales y federales.
• No criminalizar a las personas detenidas ni fallar en respeto a su dignidad publicando fotos en medios como si ya fueran sentenciadas y culpables de los hechos.
• Buscar vas de solucin pacificas y dialogadas a las demandas sociales de los pueblos y sus organizaciones, as como la liberacin inmediata de las personas detenidas.
• Respetar el trabajo de los defensores de derechos humanos y promover una cultura de derechos humanos en el estado en el que los organismos de defensa y promocin de garantas individuales y colectivas puedan hacer su labor sin ser tachados de defensores de delincuentes.
• Respetar los derechos de los pueblos indgenas, y no resolver los desacuerdos por la exigencia de autonoma a travs de masacres como la de Chinkultik el 3 de octubre del ao pasado.
Esteemed XXX (Title and profession),
By this letter we wish to express our most severe concern regarding a series of actions derived from the detention of six indigenous Tzeltal persons, residents of the ejido San Sebastin Bachajn, municipality of Chiln, Chiapas. The detainees have suffered among others: torture and other cruel or inhuman treatment; lack of adequate access to legal assistance and to a intrepreter speaking the same language; solitary confinement; stigmatizationin media.
On the other hand, adherents to The Other Campaign from the ejido San Sebastin Bachajn organized a road block demanding the release of the detainees. After a couple of days another two persons were reported dissapeared for several days. Numerous actions of repression and criminalization of the social protest and of Human Rights defenders working on these cases were denounced.
We therefore request:
• The immediate release of the persons in pre-charge detention (arraigo) in Quinta Pitiquito, Tuxtla Gutirrez having suffered violations to their human rights.
• The investigation of the policemen and General State Attorney employees for their participation in the actions.
• That the right to demonstration and protest be guaranteed as well as the personal integrity of the members of The Other Campaign in the ejido San Sebastin Bachajn, municipality of Chiln, for having denounced the arbitrary actions by the State and Federal authorities.
• That no criminalization or disrespect be committed against the dignity of the detainees by publishing their photos in the media as if they had already been sentenced and found guilty of the accusations.
• That pacific solutions and dialogue be sought for in order to resolve the social demands by peoples and their organizations, as well as the immediate liberation of the detained persons.
• That the work of Human Rights defenders be respected and that a culture of human rights may be promoted in the State where organizations defending and promoting the individual and collectives guarantees can do their work without being labelled as defenders of criminals.
• That the rights of the indigenous peoples be respected and that the state does not fall into the temptation of resolving disagreements based on the demand of autonomy through massacres such as the one in Chinkultik on Octobre 3 last year.
Please send spanish letter to the following:
Lic. Fernando Francisco Gmez-Mont Urueta
Secretara de Gobernacin
Bucareli 99. Col. Jurez, Del Cuauhtmoc
Mxico D.F., CP 06600 MXICO
Fax: + 52 55 5093 3414
Mtro. Raciel Lpez Salazar
Procurador General de Justicia del Estado de Chiapas
Libramiento Norte y Rosa del Oriente, no. 2010
Col. El Bosque,
Tuxtla Gutirrez, Chiapas, CP 29000, MXICO
Fax: + 52 961 616 5724
Lic. Juan Jos Sabines Guerrero
Gobernador del Estado de Chiapas
Palacio de Gobierno, 1 piso, Col. Centro
C.29000, Tuxtla Gutirrez, Chiapas, Mxico
Fax: +52 961 618 8088
Dr. Jos Luis Soberanes Fernndez
Presidente de la Comision Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Comisin Nacional de los Derechos Humanos, Edificio Hctor Fix Zamudio, 6 piso
Blvd. Adolfo Lpez Mateos n 1922, Col. Tlacopac San ngel, Del. lvaro Obregn
Mxico D.F., C.P. 01040, MXICO
Fax: +52 55 5681 7199
with a copy to :
Centro de Derechos Humanos “Fray Bartolomé de
las Casas” A. C.
Brasil, no. 14 Barrio Mexicanos, CP 29240
San Cristóbal de las Casas
Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group,
The EdinChiapas group is part of the 'UK Zapatista Network': http://ukzapatistas.wordpress.com/