Organizations Call on Mexican Authorities to Shed Light on the Violence in Chiapas

By Avispa Midia

International organizations The Indigenous Peoples Rights International (IPRI) and Front Line Defenders (FLD) expressed in a report, their profound concern in the face of a new wave of violence against the indigenous Tsotsil y Tseltal communities in the state of Chiapas. 

In the first days of 2022, local organizations have informed IPRI and FLD about constant aggressions on the part of armed groups in the municipalities of Aldama, Ocosingo, Chalchihuitán, Chenalhó, Chilón and Pantelhó, among others. 

“We reject the high levels of violence recorded against communities defending their rights (…), and we reiterate our concern at the climate of impunity and the absence of adequate conditions of security for these community forms of defense of human rights in the state of Chiapas,” the report says.

The organizations have received information about various aggressions by armed groups against the civilian population of the indigenous communities of the Chivit, Stzelejpotobtik, Teton, Xuxchen, Tabak, Juxton, Cocó, Stselej Potov, and the Municipal seat of Aldama since the 5th of January 2022. That same day, inhabitants of the municipality of Aldama warned authorities of the government of Chiapas about detonations of explosives in their territory. 

On the 9th of January, 2022, the shots continued in different points of the municipality of Aldama. In the township of Xuxch, the shots reached indigenous Tsotsil man, Javier Hernández de La Torre as he was walking to his coffee field with his family. He is a member of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation support bases, and is now recovering in the hospital from the bullet that grazed his head. 

January 10th 2022, a young indigenous man Lorenzo Gómez Ruíz was hit by a bullet in the community of Stzelejpotobtik and died hours later after receiving medical attention in the hospital of San Cristobal de las Casas.

That same day, at approximately one o’clock in the afternoon, a group of around 15 hooded and armed people entered the autonomous community 16 de Febrero, located in the municipality of Ocosingo. The armed people beat up a minor and forced Hilaria Hernández Gómez to leave her house with her 3-year-old son in her arms. Though later, she and her 3 sons were found, local organizations report that the armed group continues in position within the community’s lands.

According to the report, IPRI has documented direct testimonies that indicate those that make up the armed groups are presumably children of paramilitaries trainec by the Mexican Army in the 90’s and that reproduce tactics of intimidation with the objective of controlling the territory and inhibiting community organization and the exercise of the collective rights of indigenous peoples. 

“We call on the federal and state authorities to shed light on new acts of violence, to conduct an investigation in due diligence to bring those responsible to justice in an expeditious manner and to assure that defender communities can live in a safe environment in which to defend and exercise their human rights, both collective and individual,” they maintain.  

This article was published on January 16, 2022 by Avispa Midia. English translation by Schools for Chiapas.

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