Urge Mexico to Protect Activists Targeted for Murder

Target: Department for Human Rights, Mexico Federal Government

Goal: Encourage federal prosecutors to protect surviving activists and families of brutal murder

Recently, three political activists were killed in Guerrero state, Mexico. The day before their murders, the victims had expressed fear that they might be killed in retaliation for their activities. Both the survivors and the families of the victims may still be in grave danger. Urge federal prosecutors to provide comprehensive protection for these individuals.

The organization Unidad Popular, also known as Common Unity, represents and campaigns on behalf of peasant farmers and marginalized communities. Their most recent criticism was against Iguala mayor José Luis Abarca Velázquez. The group alleged that Velázquez is corrupt, citing his detrimental policies regarding state assistance to farmers and poor communities. After an escalating series of confrontations that started months before the murders, Unidad Popular filed a formal complaint with the Guerrero state prosecturor’s office. In their complaint, the activists stated: “we have a well-founded fear that José Luis Abarca Velázquez, mayor of Iguala, could give an order to take the lives of the leaders of the various organizations in the Unidad Popular.”

The next day, the bodies of Arturo Hernández Cardona, Félix Rafael Bandera Román, and Ángel Román Ramírez were found by the side of a highway that they had been blockading in a protest against the policies of the local government. The injuries on the dead bodies indicated that all three victims may have been tortured, at least one of them very severely. Five of the victims were able to escape and have now gone into hiding.

Crimes such as these have previously gone unpunished in Mexico because local law enforcement officials are often involved in the committing the crimes, and thus do everything they can to get in the way of the prosecution. José Miguel Vivanco, Americas director at Human Rights Watch, asserts that federal law enforcement needs to be involved: “There can be no effective investigation of these heinous killings if the witnesses do not feel safe coming forward . . . To help build their trust, federal authorities should take over the investigation without delay, and offer immediate, full protection for those who escaped the abduction and their families.”

In order for victims to feel comfortable coming forward with information about the brutal murders, they need to be provided comprehensive protection from the federal government. Urge the federal government to step into the case and promise protection for the surviving victims and the victim’s families.

PETITION LETTER:

Dear Department for Human Rights,

The recent murder of Unidad Popular activists necessitates the protection of the surviving victims as well as the victim’s family members. After three activists were murdered on a highway that they were blockading, the remaining activists have gone into hiding. It is believed that the local government participated in the murder of these activists, which has scared the survivors into silence.

In order to properly prosecute the perpetrators, it is necessary that the Mexican federal government become involved in the investigation and that they provide protection for the survivors and the victim’s families. If this protection is not provided, it is highly unlikely that the case will be solved – cases similar to this have gone unprosecuted due to a lack of evidence. Individuals are afraid to come forward because they would be testifying against people in power, such as law enforcement and government officials. I urge you to provide protection on a federal level so that victims will be encouraged to testify and help solve this gruesome case.

Sincerely

[Your Name Here]

Photo credit: Jaimiko via Wikimedia

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