Armed Group Frees Human Rights Defenders of Frayba

The two members of Fray Bartolomé Center for Human Rights were freed after being held hostage for more than 40 hours.

By Chiapas Parallelo

Defenders of human rights of the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Center for Human Rights(Frayba), Lázaro Sánchez Gutiérrez and Pictórico Galvez Pérez were freed in the early morning of Wednesday, after being held hostage for more than 40 hours. 

The work that Frayba carries out in the region of Ocosingo, where they were kidnapped, is making visible the situation of harassment, kidnapping, torture, and dispossession of lands and water sources, that armed groups carry out against the communities of the region.

In November of 2020, the communities denounced the actions of those who held the Frayba defenders hostage: “a few meters from where they had burned and looted our cooperative store in Cuxuljá (…) around 15:30, 20 paramilitaries kidnapped and beat up our support base comrade Félix López Hernández.”

On that occasion, as proof of the actions of  their aggressors, they presented the bullet casings, some high-caliber, that remained on the floor following the attack, that included the robbing and burning of the facilities of the New Dawn of the Rainbow Trading Center, property of the support bases of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN), located in the site known as the crossroads of Cuxuljá, in the Autonomous Municipality of Lucio Cabañas, within the official municipality of Ocosingo.

In January of this year, also through Frayba, the communities that make up EZLN support bases in Ocosingo, came back to report that over three consecutive days, they were attacked with gunfire from the Regional Organization of Coffee Growers of Ocosingo (ORCAO).

The attacks were directed at the Zapatista Caracol 10 “Flowering the rebel seed” of the community of “Moisés Gandhi” in the autonomous municipality of Lucio Cabañas, “around 170 shots of large caliber and 80 shots from small caliber,” they explained on this occasion.

This same group was the one that on this past 12th of April, intercepted and kidnapped Lázaro Gutiérrez and Victórico Gálvez Pérez, as they went through the region of Ocosingo.

The government of Chiapas has not reported the results of the investigation of the kidnapping of the two defenders, nor on the denunciations of the previous agressions.

In the afternoon on Wednesday, Frayba released a communiqué in which it explained that it decided to not make the details of these events public because it puts them at risk and infringes on their security and that of the rest of the members of the team, but they reaffirmed that the deprivation of freedom of their members happened as a result of their advocacy and defense of human rights. 

This article was published in Chiapas Paralelo on April 14th, 2021. https://www.chiapasparalelo.com/noticias/chiapas/2021/04/grupo-armado-de-ocosingo-libera-a-defensores-de-derechos-humanos-del-frayba/ This English interpretation has been re-published by Schools for Chiapas.