IACHR asks government for investigation and punishment in Aldama case

A banner welcomes the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to Magdalena Aldama.

By: Angeles Mariscal

Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño, president of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) asked the Mexican government for “the commitment to arrest those responsible” for the armed attacks on the indigenous population of Aldama Municipality.

The president of the IACHR, the executive secretary Tania Reneaum Panszi, and two specialists from the precautionary and provisional measures section of that body, visited Aldama municipality, located in the indigenous zone of the Chiapas Highlands, in whose favor the humanitarian organism asked in April 2021, for the implementation of measures that guarantee the safety and life of its population, relentlessly persecuted by armed groups.  

These measures to which the Mexican government had to respond, following the commitment it assumed when signing the international agreements that make it part of the Organization of American States (OAS) to which the IACHR belongs, were not fulfilled in their entirety because since the measures were issued to date, 3 indigenous people from Aldama were killed, and 7 more were injured, including children.

Under this scenario and given the constant harassment that the population continues experiencing, the affected people requested the presence of the representatives of this body, who agreed to visit this municipality, as well as those of Chalchihuitán and Chenalhó, where there have also been armed attacks, forced displacements and the murder of indigenous people.

Upon arrival in Aldama, representatives of the affected population received the IACHR commission on an esplanade in the municipal seat where they placed tarps with legends such as: “Welcome to the town of Magdalena Aldama, where the struggle and resistance persist;” “Guaranteeing the rights and security of the defenders of territories is not a favor, it is an obligation of the State;” and “You have the bullet… I the word. The bullet dies when detonated, the word lives when it replicates. ” [1]

Esmeralda Arosemena speaks to folks in Aldama

There, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño told them: “we come to listen to you, to see you and to receive a message of solidarity, accompaniment … (We come to) be on the ground to be able to feel this reality, what you are experiencing. Being here commits the entire IACHR to seek the answers we need together, to ensure justice, rights, dignity, equality as human beings. “

Later, in the midst of a strong security operation composed of police and National Guard (NG), the IACHR representatives went to the towns of Tabac and Coco´, two of the most affected by the armed aggressions.

In a school where bullet holes can be observed on its walls, they listened to testimony from injured children, from displaced families, and from the population who explained that the violence upset community life, leaving impacts in emotional, social, and economic ambits, among others.

Later, in another community called San Pedro Cotzinam, they heard testimony from men and women relatives of those killed; and from those who have had to abandon their lands.

The affected population insisted that the fulfillment of the precautionary measures granted in favor of the communities were not fulfilled, because the attacks continued and the armed groups have not been disarticulated or arrested despite the fact that the population of Aldama accepted giving back part of their land to their attackers -the fight over 60 hectares of land is the supposed origin of the conflict.

A meeting in Magdalena Aldama.

After the meeting, Esmeralda Arosemena de Troitiño said: “when one listens to the experiences of each person, the demand is for justice.

A response must be given to the violent acts in which people’s lives have been lost, then there is a need, and the authorities can work on that with investigation, with the commitment to arrest those responsible for the acts, because they are acts that take people’s lives, and that is a right that must be protected, the right to life.

“Then -she said- for me it’s fundamentally that. There is a need, there are other needs of course, but to start with a judicial decision that identifies those responsible. That is what they demand, an investigation that leads them to identify those responsible, and that they be punished for the acts.” [2]

The IACHR representatives returned to San Cristóbal de Las Casas to spend the night, to undertake visits to the municipalities of Chalchihuitán and Chenalhó on Wednesday and Thursday.

This is the second occasion on which the IACHR has visited the state of Chiapas. The first time was in 1998, in the context of the aggressions experienced by populations in the areas of Chiapas where there was a strategy to undermine the presence of the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN, Ejército Zapatista de Liberación Nacional).

[1] Magdalena Aldama is the Autonomous Zapatista area within Aldama Municipality.

[2] A You Tube video of this talk is available in Spanish.

Originally Published in Spanish by Chiapas Paralelo, Wednesday, July 13, 2022, https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2022/07/cidh-pide-al-gobierno-investigacion-y-sancion-en-el-caso-aldama/ and Re-Published with English interpretation by the Chiapas Support Committee

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