Frayba: Repression, torture and arbitrary arrests of Chiapas teachers
“Arbitrary Deprivation of Freedom and Torture of CNTE Teachers”
Federal Police arrive in Chiapas before teachers’ demonstrations. Photo: Chiapas Paralelo.
The Mexican State’s repression criminalizes social protest in Chiapas.
San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, México, April 16, 2016
The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Centre (Frayba) has documented human rights violations consistent with: the disproportionate use of Public Force, arbitrary deprivation of freedom, torture, and cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment that form a pattern of repression and criminalization of social protest. Acts committed in San Cristóbal de Las Casas and Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas, during the operations for dislodging the demonstrations called by Section VII of the National Coordinator of Education Workers of the State of Chiapas (CNTE) and the National Union of Education Workers (SNTE). Actions perpetrated by members of the Federal Police, the Gendarmería and the State Policía used tear gas and rubber bullets indiscriminately and unjustifiably damaged the health of those who demonstrated on April 15, 2016, from approximately 10:00 am to 2:00 pm. They also physically injured the population that passed by or those who were at the place of the repression, including girls, boys, women and the elderly.
Testimonies refer to the fact that in San Cristóbal de Las Casas, police aggressions included breaking into private homes and businesses, the use of tear gas damaging the family members of sick people that were in the Hospital of Cultures, people beaten although they had nothing to do with the demonstrations, vigilance on the part of soldiers dressed as civilians and the infiltration of shock groups to justify repression and to generate confrontation. At the same time two Federal Police helicopters, without registration, flew over and shot tear gas, and one helicopter from civil protection.
During the protests, the mayor’s offices and several vehicles were set on fire in San Cristóbal de las Casas. Photo: Chiapas Paralelo.
In Tuxtla Gutiérrez they implemented a police encirclement that started at the La Pochota demonstration point and turned the teachers back towards the centre, into zones where the attacks with tear gas, rubber bullets and stones affected the population in general. Helicopters also flew over launching tear gas. There were an undetermined number of people injured and with nervous crisis.
In Tuxtla Gutiérrez and San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas, members of the police arbitrarily detained, with cruel, inhuman and/or degrading treatment, without respect for individual guarantees or mediating protocols that safeguard security and integrity, at least 8 female professors, 10 male professors and three people who were passing by the place: a distributor of water, an electricity technician and a gym instructor, also a student who was at a mechanics shop and two other unidentified individuals. These detentions were made between 10:00 am and 12:00 noon in different places and the people detained were taken to the installations of the Attorney General of the Republic in Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas.
Car set on fire in Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Photo: La Jornada.
According to testimonies they knew about the detention of their family member through social networks, but it was not until 11:00 at night that they received calls from the individuals detained; thus, they were incommunicado for more than 12 hours and they were allowed to see a relative for only 5 minutes each, and they were going in three by three, the last visit where they could have contact with their relative being at 5:00 am on April 16. The majority said they didn’t know details about the legal situation of the persons detained.
On April 16 in the morning, the 18 teachers were transported in a Boeing 727 airplane, Registration XC_MPF, belonging to the Federal Police, to the maximum-security prison at Tepic, Nayarit. The teachers are accused of attacking general roadways, damages, terrorism and injuries, typical crimes to inhibit social protest, thereby criminalizing freedom to demonstrate. All this violates the rights to Demonstrate, Associate and Meet, to Thought and Expression, as well as also violating the right to personal integrity and security and to personal freedom and, in relation to the foregoing, the right to due legal process.
The facts referenced generate a pattern of repression and criminalization of protest in Chiapas and in the country, which puts the general population at risk of being indiscriminately attacked, seeing that women, boys and girls had specific rights violated.
We place responsibility on the Secretary of Government, Juan Gómez Aranda, who had published his commitment to “privilege dialogue and the unrestricted compliance with the law as the only way to find solutions to the problems of Chiapanecos;” on Manuel Velasco Coello, Governor of the State of Chiapas, on Renato Sales Heredia, National Security Commissioner and on Jorge Llaven Abarca, Secretary of Citizen Security and Protection, who Frayba had informed of the grave situation urging them to avoid events and/or damages that are impossible to repair. So also Enrique Peña Nieto and Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, who are the producers of the repressive policy of the current authoritarian regime.
This Human Rights Centre urges the Mexican State to: assume the obligation to protect, guarantee and respect human rights; cease the repression and criminalization of social protest; guarantee the life, integrity and personal security of those who exercise their legitimate right to demonstrate freely; immediately, efficiently, promptly, seriously, exhaustively and impartially address these issues sanctioning those responsible for the human rights violations described; and that it immediately free the individuals arbitrarily detained and unjustifiably transferred, accused of crimes fabricated as a justification for repressive actions.
Published by: Pozol Colectivo
Saturday, April 16, 2016
Re-Published with English translation by the Chiapas Support Committee