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Chiapas Uprising and Human Rights Abuses

The CNDH is conducting a full investigation into the allegations of human rights abuses after the armed uprising of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) in 1994. This primarily Indian group was protesting what it regarded as government failure to deal effectively with social and economic problems. A number of serious human rights violations occurred during the fighting in Chiapas in January. The most prominent included charges that the Mexican military executed five to seven suspected rebels in the town of Ocosingo; killed 11 civilians at a hospital in Ocosingo; indiscriminately fired on civilian areas; and was responsible for the arbitrary detention, abuse, and disappearances of civilians. The rebels were accused of human rights abuses as well, primarily kidnaping and extortion of civilians.

In an interim report on Chiapas dated February 22, the CNDH noted that it had opened files on 218 abuse complaints involving 727 injured parties. The cases included 56 homicides, 427 disappearances, and 25 incidents of abuse of authority. Of the 427 disappearances, 404 were resolved by the end of February (371 people were returned to their homes).

In addition to investigations by the CNDH and other Mexican Governmental authorities, some 140 Mexican and international non-governmental human rights organizations have traveled to Chiapas to look into abuse allegations. Some of the more credible and well-established groups continue to monitor the ongoing investigations. The Mexican Government invited the International Committee of the Red Cross to interview suspected rebel detainees imprisoned during the uprising.

During the course of the uprising, President Salinas was very clear in his statements and actions that government authorities in Chiapas must ensure respect for human rights for the residents of that state. In naming Jorge Carpizo to the Interior Ministry and appointing former Mexico City mayor Manuel Camacho as Peace Commissioner for Chiapas, Salinas sent a strong signal of his dedication to resolving the problems of the uprising in a peaceful manner and to addressing human rights concerns. Early in the uprising, the U.S. Government expressed its concern over the potential for human rights violations in Chiapas. It was assured that all charges would be investigated and that those found guilty would be punished.

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The Indigenous Peoples' Literature pages were researched and organized by Glenn Welker.