30 October 2006
Approximately five months ago, a large-scale pacific protest and resistance movement, including a teachers’ strike, began in the southern Mexican state of Oaxaca. Among the demands of the main organizing entities, the Popular Association of the People of Oaxaca (APPO) and Section 22 of the Educational Workers Union (SNTE, Sección 22), are an end to rampant repressive practices by the state government and the resignation of the governor of Oaxaca responsible for said state of repression, and specific education-system reforms in Oaxaca.
The conflict recently reached crisis proportions, in particular with the incursion in Oaxaca of unidentified, heavily armed paramilitary groups. On Friday October 27th, the violence reached new levels when said armed groups – alleged to be police forces dressed as civilians, and/or paid thugs — went on shooting sprees leading to the deaths of at least four persons, including a foreign journalist, and numerous injuries.
With the pretext of the violence unleashed on Friday, October 27th, on Sunday October 29th, the federal government of Mexico ordered the entrance of 4,500 Federal Police Troops (PFP), accompanied by numerous members of the armed forces, to “retake” the city of Oaxaca. Despite governmental assurance that the PFP was unarmed, numerous eyewitnesses report (and extensive television footage verifies) the presence and use of: tanks, heavy machinery, firearms of different calibers, anti-riot gear including tear and pepper gas fired from both land and air (helicopters), grenade-launchers, stun-guns, high-pressure water shooting tanks with water tainted with an unidentified chemical causing skin burns, etc.
Approximately 30,000 resistance members and activists – representing the range of the population of Oaxaca: housewives, indigenous persons and leaders, tradespeople, farmers, teachers, students, etc. — met the police forces at times by laying on the ground to impede the pass of tanks and machinery. Simultaneous protests took place in other parts of Oaxaca, Mexico City, and in the United States, in support of the demands of the APPO and the teachers of Oaxaca, and calling for an immediate halt to the militarization of Oaxaca. In an additional desperate attempt to demand urgent attention to the demands of the organized people of Oaxaca, 21 APPO members and teachers have maintained a hunger strike since 16 October; all of these are currently facing critical and often life-threatening consequences of this desperate measure.
The HIC Latin American office supports the request for an urgent end to the state of siege currently in place in the city of Oaxaca, in favor of respectful and balanced dialogue to respond to the legitimate demands of the people of Oaxaca, and the resolution of the conflict respecting the human rights of all of those involved, including human rights activists present in Oaxaca to bear witness, as recognized by the Mexican Constitution, the American Human Rights Convention, the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights, etc.
Attached we are including a detailed urgent action request in Spanish, written and co-signed by a very comprehensive list of local and national human rights organizations and related Mexican civil society groups. The request includes a detailed minute-by-minute chronology of the events of Sunday October 29th, including regarding the resistance members killed or injured during the entrance of the federal police forces.
The Urgent Action includes a list of names and contact information to which it is requested you please send your letters of protest. Your intervention on behalf of the people of Oaxaca will be very effective to let the Mexican Government know that, despite its abject denial regarding any conflict in Mexico, the world is aware of the situation in Oaxaca and in solidarity with its people.
Please remit copy of your letters to the Mexican League for the Defense of Human Rights (LIMEDDH), at: firstname.lastname@example.org (additional contact information in attached UA).
Thank you, and please feel free to contact the HIC-AL office for any additional information you require. We apologize that we are unable to translate the entire UA at this moment, but we prefer to avoid further delay, in order to request your urgent support.
Please organize solidarity actions in your city/country and send letters of
concern to Mexican national authorities]
Presidente Vicente Fox Quesada
Fax: +52 (55) 5516 9537 / 5573 2126
E-mail: email@example.com – firstname.lastname@example.org
Licenciado Carlos Abascal Carranza
Secretario de Gobernación
Fax: +52 (55) 5093 3414