Frayba Demands Release of Six Indigenous in Chiapas

Indigenous community in Chiapas. Photo:Frayba Center for Human Rights Archive

Elio Henríquez

San Cristóbal de Las Casas, Chiapas. The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Center for Human Rights (Frayba) has demanded the release of a Chol indigenous person, support base of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation (EZLN) and five Tseltal territory defenders, originally from the municipality of Cancuc.

At the same time that a group of people began a protest in front of the judiciary, they explained in a statement that José Díaz Gómez, support base of the EZLN, is held in the prison of the municipality of Catazajá for “a crime fabricated in retaliation for his Zapatista political adherence, which is why he has remained in preventive detention since November 25th, 2022.”

His trial, they added, “has been maliciously postponed. The Control Court handling the case has approved on three occasions the extension of the investigation period for the benefit of the Prosecutor’s Office, despite the fact that it has not carried out any additional investigation.”

They maintained that “this type of delay has been identified as part of a pattern in which prosecutors and judges extend the process and consequently the imprisonment without sentence, for the purpose of simulation. During this period, his public defense has been changed on multiple occasions, violating the rights to a continuous and diligent defense.”

They said that Frayba “has requested on three occasions the change of precautionary measure, which would allow his trial to be carried out in freedom, in order to mitigate the effects on his health and family economy, but the response has been negative.”

The organization chaired by the bishop emeritus of Saltillo, Coahuila, Raúl Vera López also denounced “the criminalization of Manuel Sántiz Cruz, Agustín Pérez Domínguez, Juan Velasco Aguilar, Agustín Pérez Velasco and Martín Pérez Domínguez, territory defenders.”

They explained that “the first three were apprehended by municipal and state police; National Guard and elements of the Mexican Army on May 29th, 2022 in Cancuc. Later handed over to the Indigenous Prosecutor’s Office, which committed acts of incommunicado detention and forced disappearance for more than twenty-four hours; a completely different version of the arrest was fabricated, stating that the three had been arrested on May 30th – that is, a day later – in San Cristóbal for carrying drugs.”

They assured that “during their detention, evidence was fabricated to accuse them of a second crime that they did not commit and an arrest warrant was requested for the same. After being released for the first crime, they were immediately arrested for the second fabricated investigation file and taken directly to San Cristóbal prison.

“On June 1st of the same year, relatives of the three detainees and two witnesses, accompanied by Frayba personnel and an international human rights observation organization, went to the Control Court where the initial hearing against the three defenders would take place. While outside the prison, ministerial police arrived and took the two witnesses named Martín Pérez Domínguez and Agustín Pérez Velasco, adding them to the list of criminalized defenders.”

They reported that this Tuesday, March 5th at 3 p.m. they will carry out the reinstatement of the hearing in the Control and Prosecution Court based in San Cristóbal, for which they demanded that “the cessation of this improper use of criminal machinery be guaranteed” against the five territory defenders, through a sentence that recognizes the violations committed.”

They called on the State Judiciary to “guarantee the cessation of criminalization processes against indigenous defenders in Chiapas, for which it is important that their judges listen to the victims’ complaints about the human rights violations committed in order to build crimes against them; that they carefully study the fabricated evidence to make sure of its inconsistencies and that they are not part of the undue prolongation of preventive detention, which is another form of punishment for the exercise of political rights.”

They stated that in order to demand the release of the six detainees, “different voices demonstrated today, March 5th, outside the facilities of the State Superior Court of Justice.”

Original article at
Translated by Schools for Chiapas.

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