The Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA) and the Latin American Working Group (LAWG) have sent a letter to the governor of the Mexican state of Guerrero expressing serious concern about reports of human rights violations and criminalization of social protest in the state, particularly against indigenous communities.
The letter specifically voices concern about the arrests of five leaders of the Me Phaa Indigenous People Organization on April 18 and asks for better due process guarantees in these and other cases involving indigenous people in the state.
Lic. Zeferino Torreblanca Galindo
Gobernador del Estado de Guerrero
Palacio de Gobierno, Edificio Centro, piso 2, Ciudad de los Servicios
CP 39075, Chilpancingo, Guerrero, MÉXICO
Dear Governor Torreblanca ,
We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the arrests of five members of the Me Phaa Indigenous People Organization (OPIM) on April 18th in Ayutla de Los Libres, Guerrero. The five OPIM members were arrested by a squad belonging to the so-called Mixed Operations Base (BOM) in response to an arrest warrant for the murder of Alejandro Feliciano García. Further, ten other members of the OPIM have received arrest warrants for the same homicide.
The investigation into the January 1st, 2008 murder of Alejandro Feliciano García, which according to prior complaints by the OPIM was the work of a paramilitary group to which García belonged, had been completely stagnant. The investigation was later reactivated under very suspicious circumstances. On April 10th, a few hours after the body of the victim was exhumed, the inquiry was finished and the 15 arrest warrants against OPIM members were sent out.
It is also concerning that, before arriving at the prison, the five detainees reported that they had received death threats and had been tortured. Similarly, members of OPIM, have constantly suffered attacks and threats by members of the military and the police for denouncing the rape of Inez Fernandez and the forced sterilization that has occurred in their communities. Recently a the body of member of OPIM, Lorenzo Fernandez, was found in Ayulta de los Libres with signs that he was tortured.
Due to the facts presented above, we ask that the authorities enact an independent, impartial resolution in the case of the five Me’ phaá and the other ten OPIM members that have arrest warrants against them, respecting their rights of due process. We also urge that the state guarantee the security and physical safety of the members of OPIM and that it ensure that their rights will not be violated.
We also want to express our concern about the high levels of militarization in that region. An increasing amount of military and police personnel have arrived in the Ayulta region and have installed bases and squads in different parts of the area. Me’ phaá and Na savi Indians from Ayulta de Los Libres have reported receiving harassement and intimidation and also reported violations of their human rights by the military, agents of the Federal Investigations Agency (AFI), agents of the Ministerial Police (PM), and state police, which were seeking to associate them with “guerrillas” and detain peasants to accuse them of the ambush that occurred this past March 31st.
These abuses and the arrest warrants and detention of OPIM members are part of the systematic criminalization of social protest by the government of Guerrero. Therefore, we ask that the excessive and unjustified criminalization in the Costa Chica and Montaña regions of Guerrero stop and that the criminalization of social protest in the state end.
Latin America Working Group
Washington Office on Latin America
CC: Lic. Eduardo Murueta Urrutia, Procurador del Estado de Guerrero; Embajador Arturo Sarukhan Casamitjana, Embajada de México en Estados Unidos; Lic. Juan Alarcón Hernández, Presidente de la Comisión de Defensa de los Derechos Humanos del Estado de Guerrero