Urgent Action: Rarámuri Indigenous Leaders Murdered
Sign the urgent action here on-line: http://redtdt.org.mx/?p=7884
The National Network of Civil Society Human Rights Groups, All Rights for Everyone (in Spanish: ‘Red Nacional de Organismos Civiles de Derechos Humanos, Todos los Derechos para Todas y Todos’ and known by the acronym Red TDT)
2 February 2017
- This is an urgent call to action to protect the safety and integrity of members of the Choreachi community following the murder of indigenous leader Juan Ontiveros Ramos, 15 days after the murder of Isidro Baldenegro, another indigenous leader from the same municipality.
- We demand that the investigation begun into these events be diligently integrated into this case, in order to identify, prosecute and punish all those responsible; and to ensure the non-repetition of similar events.
Recent Events Prior to the Murder
Red TDT has received information from the Alianza Sierra Madre A.C. and the Women’s Human Rights Centre about the murder of the human rights defender Juan Ontiveros Ramos.
On February 1, 2017, Juan Ontiveros Ramos was found dead after he and his brother Isidro were attacked the day before by armed individuals. On January 20, Juan took part in a meeting with personnel from the Human Rights Section of the Ministry of the Interior and other authorities. There were two rounds of analysis discussing the community’s security situation and dispossession of their territory.
In October 2015 Juan Ontiveros had also presented his testimony about the local problems in a video that was given to the IACHR (Inter-American Commission on Human Rights) in a meeting implementing precautionary measures. The aggressions suffered by the communities and human rights defenders of the region have been a trend identified by organizations working in the region.
The Choréachi community in the municipality of Guadalupe and Calvo, Chihuahua has a grave history of attacks on human rights defenders, as well as general harassment of villagers. This is due to the approximately 40 years of occupation of their territory by groups of organized crime and others. In such a context of reoccurring serious violence, it is imperative to issue an emergency call to protect the life and integrity of the rest of the inhabitants of the Choréachi commuinty.
The homicide of Juan Ontiveros Ramos took place 15 days after Isidro Baldenegro, another indigenous leader from the same municipality, was also assassinated. These two cases bring to 18 the total number of homicides that the community has suffered since 1973. Four of these murders took place last year, and this reveals that territorial dispossession in the Tarahumara Sierra continues without being addressed.
The aggressions against the Choréachi community are a longstanding problem. Since two years ago, an emergency situation had already been reported. On 20 February 2014 several organizations in the region sent a request for precautionary measures to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in support of Prudencio Ramos Ramos and Ángela Ayala Ramos and their respective families. After determining the seriousness of the case, the commission requested Mexico to take the necessary measures to preserve life and to enable them to carry out their human rights defence work without being subjected to violence. It also requested that the facts of the case be investigated so as to avoid the situation repeating.
Again, we value the words Rapporteur Forst delivered in his report on the closure of his mission of January 24:
‘During my visit to Chihuahua, I became familiar with the situation faced by human rights defenders protecting the rights of the Rarámuri indigenous people, in particular the risks posed by organized crime and the lack of protection by the authorities.’ For these reasons, the expert ‘Call[ed] on the federal and state authorities to ensure that all crimes against the defenders of the rights of the Sierra Tarahumara peoples are properly investigated.’ The signatory organizations of this communiqué make the same call as Michel Forst and urge the state and federal authorities to act accordingly.
Given these facts we demand the following:
- Protect the Choréachi community and provide security for the life and natural and cultural heritage of the Rarámuri people.
- Guarantee the physical and moral integrity of Juan Ontiveros Ramos’s family.
- Follow through and act on the arrest warrants pending in connection with the murder of Jaime Zubías and Socorro Ayala as they relate to these events.
- That the investigation initiated by these events be diligently integrated, in order to identify, prosecute and punish all those responsible; and to ensure similar events do not happen again.
- That the agreements adopted at the different rounds of meetings be complied with and result in both the guarantee that the community recovers its territory, and the compliance of the precautionary measures adopted by the IACHR result in the safety of those who are under the protective mechanisms of human rights defenders and journalists.
- That the contingency plan drawn up from the preventive alert, to support human rights defenders and journalists in Chihuahua, and adopted by the government representatives of the protective mechanisms be put into action.
Translated by the UK Zapatista Translation Service