Condemnation of Police Brutality in Atenco, Mexico sign now

To Lic. Carlos Abascal
Secretary of State

To Sr. Daniel Cabeza de Vaca Hernбndez
Attorney General

To Josй Luis Soberanes
President of the Human Rights Commission

To Louise Arbour
High Commissioner of the United Nations

To Ricardo Sepъlveda Higuiniz
Sub secretary of Human Rights of the federal government

As scholars, activists, engaged intellectuals, and representatives of communities in resistance, we write to condemn the events that have transpired in Mexico since May 3, when a group of flower vendors was brutally repressed by the police in a Texcoco market in the state of Mexico. These events and subsequent detentions, documented in testimonies taken by Mexicos National Human Rights Commission, suggest that serious violations of international humanitarian law are taking place, creating a climate of intimidation fewer than two months before presidential elections.

Since May 3rd, some 210 civilians including the elderly, youth, and many women and men, have been arrested. On May 4th, 3,000 federal police forces surrounded the town of Atenco, the residence of the FPDT members. Witnesses of the events say the police fired into crowds of civilians. Police ultimately shot and killed a 14-year-old and two others were wounded. Also, today Alexis Beumante, a 22 year-old economics student of the National Autonomous University of Mexico, remains in a coma after being struck in the head by a tear-gas canister. Atenco detainees report that during the six-hour transfer to the prison they were hooded, which is both a human rights violation and an obstacle to bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Sexual assault has featured prominently in accounts of the violations of human rights. As of today 30 of the 47 women detained have issued formal complaints of rape and other sexual assault to the Attorney General and the National Human Rights Commission. The rest of the detainees suffered excessive beatings. They did not receive appropriate legal or medical help. Notably, the major political parties in Congress and state authorities have cast doubt of the testimonies of sexual abuse of the women and one man and accused the victims, many of whom were human rights observers from diverse parts of Mexico, of seeking to destabilize the country.

The Mexican state appears to have initiated a campaign of violent intimidation of organized dissent. Atenco is the same municipality where, in 2002, the Peoples Front of Atenco resisted the expropriation of communal lands for the construction of a new Mexico City international airport. Furthermore, many of the leaders of the Atenco organization hosted subcomandante Marcos' arrival in Atenco as part of the Other Campaign the non-electoral national public forum organized by members of the Zapatista organization. Since the beginning of 2006 the state also has illegally repressed working people demanding their rights, as in the case of the miners of Sicartsa in Michoacan. Furthermore, as part of a peaceful mobilization in solidarity of the migrant protests in the United States, 7 people, national and foreign, were illegally arrested in Oaxaca on May 1 and later released for lacked of evidence of wrongdoing. In this case, many of them were doing their work as journalists or observers.

Although we commend the recent admission on the part of the governor of the State of Mexico of the use of excessive force, we demand that all perpetrators of these violations be prosecuted. Until they are brought to justice, the Mexican state is implicated in the violation of the human rights of citizens organized to demand social justice. The proximity of these events to the July 1 presidential election is also noteworthy.

We make the following demands to the government of Mexico:
1. An immediate end to state violence and repression towards the Atenco villagers and the adherents and supporters of the Other Campaign.
2. The immediate release of all political prisoners and prisoners of conscience.
3. An immediate and full investigation of all sexual abuses and rapes, and full punishment to the perpetrators.
4. A full guarantee of the detainees Human Rights and a fair and just trial.
5. The reparation of the physical and material damage inflicted upon all the civilians by state agents.
6. Respect and guarantee to all media personnel and national and international observers that are covering the Atenco event, as well as those covering The Other Campaign.

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William WernerBy:
Petition target:
Vicente Fox, President of Mexico


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