Target: Enrique Peña Nieto, President of Mexico
Goal: Celebrate the release of two indigenous human rights activists jailed for over a year on dubious charges.
A judge has dropped the charges against two indigenous Yaqui activists who were fighting for their right to reasonable access to water, citing a lack of evidence. One of the activists, Mario Luna Romero, has been the subject of a previous ForceChange petition, and his release is in part the result of pressure and outcry from activists all over the world. Sign the petition commending Mexico on its release of the activists and urge the government to continue to protect human rights defenders and indigenous communities.
Mario Luna and Fernando Jiménez both spent over a year in “preventative detention” after being arrested for their human rights work. Both were accused of “car theft and temporary kidnapping against a community member with links to the state government,” Amnesty International reports. Both men’s lawyers have maintained that the charges are false and that neither man was even present at the time of the events in question.
Luna and Jiménez are both Yaqui community leaders who were outspoken opponents of the Independence Aqueduct, a project that diverted significant amounts of water from the Yaqui community and was undertaken without their consent. Luna, the subject of an earlier petition on this site, was arrested just days after returning from Washington, D.C., where he presented the case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. His arrest deprived the community of one of its leaders and acted as a method of intimidation against the rest of the tribe.
A recent Supreme Court ruling recognized the threat the Independence Aqueduct poses to the Yaqui community and has recommended that its use be suspended until a solution can be devised. Meanwhile, the release of Luna and Jiménez means that the Yaqui community has regained two of its most passionate defenders, thanks in large part to the actions of activists all over the world, including those here at ForceChange.
Luna has credited these efforts with helping him stay in good spirits, saying, “I wanted to thank you for all of your effort, from each of your homes. You have done so much for the Tribe. I never felt alone. I always felt the support of so many people.”
Thank you for supporting the cause of human rights. Sign the petition and celebrate this victory!
Dear President Peña Nieto,
I am writing to congratulate you on the recent release of Mario Luna Romero and Fernando Jiménez, Yaqui human rights activists who have spent over a year in “preventative detention,” most likely as a result of their human rights work on behalf of their community. I am happy to hear that justice has taken its proper course and that the men are free to continue their important human rights work.
The charges against Luna and Jiménez, which included car theft and kidnapping, were dropped due to a lack of evidence. Both men were active in protesting against the Independence Aqueduct, a project that diverted water from the Yaqui community. The men’s release is an important step forward for the survival of the community, as is the Supreme Court ruling that confirms that the aqueduct endangers its survival. I urge you to continue making positive progress toward a solution that respects the health and safety of all the people of Sonora.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Nicolas Raymond