To the State Governor of Chiapas, Lic. Roberto Albores Guillén
Fax: + 52 961 2 0917
At approximately 5 pm on April the 15th about 800 police and soldiers entered the community of Diez de Abril.
José Alfredo López Méndez, 17 (a minor), was arrested and savagely beaten, dragged and stripped while being taken by the police to their vehicles. When he appealed to others from the community for help, one of the police put the barrel of a gun in his mouth, thus forcing him to remain silent.
The mother of the boy and the women of the community tried to rescue him but they were driven back by shoves and blows from the Public Security police.
Three Norwegians from the civilian peace camp were arrested.
Having overcome the resistance offered by the people of the village, the police split up and, without warrants, began to break into the houses, destroying and robbing the belongings of each family.
While running away, a five year old child fell from a rope suspension bridge into the river. S/he has still not been found.
They set one house on fire and partially burnt it, cut the community's electricity supply cables, sacked the women's cooperative shop, took medical instruments, books and seven boxes of medicines from the clinic and seized 5 000 pesos which had been donated to the community church.
In the face of these events, the community of Diez de Abril and we demand:
1. The immediate release of José Alfredo López Méndez, who is imprisoned.
2. Full investigation and punishment of those responsible for both the carrying out and the planning of these events.
3. Payment and compensation for the goods taken and destroyed.
4. An end to the reression of indigenous communities.
5. That the rights of the indigenous peoples be respected.
6. The complete implementation of the San Andrés Peace Agreements.
The Latin America Solidarity Centre (LASC)
Please fax letter to the governor as soon as possible.
LASC 5 Merrion Row, Dublin 2, Ireland
Appeal to the World For Chiapas
This is an urgent appeal to the United Nations, and the world community, to stop the growing violence, intimidation, and repression now directed against the millions of Indigenous people of Chiapas, Mexico.
President Clinton has publicly acknowledged the failure of the world community to act in a timely and decisive manner to halt the genocide in Rwanda. "(We) did not fully appreciate the depth and the speed with which (Rwandans) were being engulfed by this unimaginable horror," he has said. "We did not act quickly enough after the killing began. We did not immediately call these crimes by their rightful name: genocide."
In Bosnia, the genocide against Moslems was also allowed to proceed relatively unhindered for years, and as a result massive numbers of people were killed.
The most horrific single incident to date took place last December 22 at the little town of Acteal, where forty-five unarmed Indigenous civilians - most of them women and children - were systematically hunted down like animals and murdered by paramilitary forces.
It must be made clear that Acteal is not an isolated incident. It is emblematic of a much broader pattern of escalating violence and intimidation aimed at the Indigenous people of Chiapas. In the past 18 months, there has been a growing pattern of paramilitary violence, and more recently growing military violence, which has: claimed hundreds of lives; converted thousands of Indigenous people into homeless refugees; destroyed Indigenous crops by vandalism, theft, and burning; and produced in recent months a major repressive buildup of Mexican military forces in the region.
Most recently, raids by massed bodies of hundreds and even thousands of government troops and police have unlawfully descended on peaceful Indigenous communities. These raids have brutalized and arrested dozens of members of peaceful Indigenous cooperative economic and political associations. These raids have also illegally arrested dozens of International peace observers, whose presence had been requested by the Indigenous people and their organizations to insure the safety of the Indigenous. These peace observers have been summarily deported from the country without due process of law, thereby depriving the Indigenous people of outside witnesses should further acts of violence and intimidation occur.
On the basis of these developments, the UN, Amnesty International, and many other respected international human rights organizations have found very serious violations of both Mexican legality and Human rights.
In addition, an all-out assault on various civilian Indigenous communities, and on the Zapatista Indigenous Army, which has engaged in no warfare activities for 3 1/2 years, appears to be under preparation. The cost of such an assault in lives is incalculable.
In light of all these developments, we want to issue a challenge to all the governments of the Americas, to the United Nations, and to all world leaders:
There is no time to waste. Timely and decisive action must be taken immediately to avert further repression and genocide directed at Indigenous people, people who have historically been subjected to the greatest genocide and have been the most oppressed in the Americas.