Mexico: A call to end impunity and concern for human rights defenders one year after the Nochixtlán repression

27/06/2017
Press release
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Geneva-Paris, 26 June 2017 – In the days following the first anniversary of the events in Nochixtlán, the Observatory demands justice for the victims and warns of the high risk run by human rights defenders because of their work to secure justice in the face of an orchestrated smear campaign directed against them.

One year has elapsed since the ‘Oaxaca’ operation when, on 19 June 2016, officers from the Oaxaca State Police and the Federal police broke up road blocks organized by fathers and mothers together with Oaxaca state-school teachers in defence of education in the villages of Asunción Nochixtlán, San Pablo Huitzo, San Francisco Telixtlahuaca, Hacienda Blanca and Viguera. During the operation, eight people lost their lives, seven of them in Nochixtlán and one in Crucero de Viguera. Seven of the eight were shot and one allegedly died in an explosion. Furthermore, according to information provided by civil society organizations, at least 226 civilians suffered harassment during the operation [1], and impunity for these offences persists.

On the occasion of the first anniversary, the Observatory warns of the fact that the smear campaign is being reinitiated against the human rights defenders combating impunity in this case, and against the Oaxaca teaching profession as a whole. This campaign poses a serious threat to these individuals, particularly since attacks against human rights defenders in Oaxaca are on the rise.

According to information from the Special Ombudsman’s Office for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists attached to the Human Rights Ombudsman’s Office of the People of Oaxaca (Defensoría Especializada en la Protección de Personas Defensoras y Periodistas de la Defensoría de los Derechos Humanos del Pueblo de Oaxaca), in 2016 there were 197 offences committed against 95 defenders (39 women and 56 men) and against 10 groups. Members of federal, state or municipal police forces participated in at least 72 of these offences. Furthermore, according to information from the Oaxaca Network of Women Activists and Human Rights Defenders (Red de Mujeres Activistas y Defensoras de Derechos Humanos de Oaxaca), since 2010 the state of Oaxaca has seen the highest number of attacks against human rights defenders. Lastly, it is important to point out that teacher and human rights defender Damián Gallardo Martínez has been detained since 2013, despite the fact that the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention has deemed his detention to be illegal.

The Observatory calls upon the authorities of Mexico and Oaxaca to deploy all possible means to legitimize the action of human rights defenders in Oaxaca, particularly those linked to state-school teaching in Oaxaca. It calls on the authorities to ensure that the events of 19 June 2016 are no longer subject to impunity, that the victims receive reparation and that guarantees are given that such events will never be repeated.

The Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders (the Observatory) is a programme established in 1997 by the World Organisation Against Torture (OMCT) and FIDH. It seeks to prevent or remedy specific acts of repression perpetrated against human rights defenders. OMCT and FIDH are members of ProtectDefenders.eu, a European Union mechanism for human rights defenders implemented by international civil society.

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