Oakland, California, May 6, 2010
Chiapas Support Committee * P.O. Box 3421 * Oakland, CA 9460
The Chiapas Support Committee condemns the Attack on the Observation Caravan to San Juan Copala (Oaxaca, Mexico)
The Chiapas Support Committee energetically condemns the armed attack carried out by paramilitaries against members of the humanitarian caravan on April 27. The caravan was composed of representatives of human rights and social organizations, journalists and international observers.
The caravan was headed to San Juan Copala in the Triqui region when it was ambushed and attacked with AK-47 and AR-15 assault rifles, allegedly by a group from the Unidad para el Bienestar Social de la región Triqui (UBISORT), an organization linked with the Partido Revolucionario Institutional (PRI) and pointed to as having paramilitary characteristics. The result of the paramilitary attack was two dead, Beatriz Alberta Cariño Trujillo, a member of the Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos A.C. (CACTUS) and Jyri Antero Jaakola, an international observer from Finland, as well as several others wounded.
This armed attack occurred on a humanitarian and peaceful observation caravan, thereby corroborating the risk that human rights defenders, as well as journalists, run in Mexico. We express our most profound concern for the vulnerability of those who work to defend and promote human rights while faced with ever more frequent political violence, the criminalization of their work, and the State's indifference to the protection of their life and physical integrity.
The paramilitary killing of an international human rights observer is of grave concern to our organizations, which support indigenous communities in Mexico and travel there to express solidarity. Instead of arresting those responsible for the death of Jyri Jaakola, a citizen of Finland, the Oaxaca government questioned international observation itself! The work of international human rights observation represents a concrete civilian peace mechanism for intervening in conflict areas, and has been instrumental in preventing and stopping violence.
The Oaxaca government is not accepting any responsibility for these acts of violence. Impunity in the numerous murders and acts of violence that have taken place in the Triqui zone has contributed to creating a violent situation in the region.
Finally, it concerns us that, as often happens also in Chiapas, the response to this attack will be limited to re-establishing public order without addressing the root causes behind the violence that has prevailed in the Triqui zone.
As a consequence of the above, we urgently demand:
* An immediate, impartial and thorough investigation and punishment of the material and intellectual authors of these murders, as a first step to stopping political violence in the region;
* Immediate action to address the root causes of the political violence in Triqui communities, placing special emphasis on respect for the process of internal dialogue;
* Investigate and dismantle paramilitary groups in Oaxaca and Chiapas and other regions of Mexico;
* Ensure conditions of freedom of movement, expression and association, restore rights and protections that permit re-establishing safety for the entire community, a situation that cannot be re-established without demilitarizing the region; and,
* Develop and implement community-based solutions to address the community’s lack of access to basic services and stability. The humanitarian aid caravan was coming to support the community, addressing the causes with human solidarity.
Chiapas Support Committee: http://www.chiapas-support.org/