• Campaigns

UA 70/94 - Mexico: harassment of human rights activists: Church human rights activists and medical personnel

, Index number: AMR 41/004/1994

On 20 February 1994 workers of the San Carlos Hospital of Altamirano, state of Chiapas, were verbally and physically harassed by a mob, allegedly instigated by local landowners and municipal authorities. It seems the reason for this harassment was the hospital workers' non-partisan involvement in the treatment of people injured during the armed conflict in Chiapas. The San Carlos Hospital is run by the religious Order of the Sisters of Charity of Saint Vincent de Paul. There is also concern at reports of continuing harassment by army personnel of members of the Church and other human rights activists working among the indigenous populations of Chiapas.

EXTERNAL (for general distribution) AI Index: AMR 41/04/94
Distr: UA/SC
UA 70/94 Harassment of human rights activists 22 February 1994
MEXICO: Church human rights activists and medical personnel
Amnesty International is concerned at reports of the harassment of Church human
rights monitors and medical personnel in the state of Chiapas.
On 20 February 1994, workers of the San Carlos Hospital of Altamirano, state
of Chiapas, were verbally and physically harassed by a mob, allegedly instigated
by local landowners and municipal authorities. It seems that the reason for
this harassment was the hospital workers' non-partisan involvement in the
treatment of people injured during the armed conflict in Chiapas which began
on 1 January. The San Carlos Hospital is run by the religious Compañía de
las Hijas de la Caridad de San Vicente de Paul, Order of the Sisters of Charity
of Saint Vincent de Paul, and has provided medical assistance to the wounded
in this region of Chiapas since the conflict began on 1 January 1994. Some
of the wounded have allegedly been linked to the Ejército Zapatista de Liberación
Nacional (EZLN), Zapatista National Liberation Army.
Amnesty International is also concerned about reports of continuing threats
and harassment by army personnel against members of the Church and other human
rights activists working among the indigenous populations of Chiapas. Amnesty
International continues to fear for the physical safety of human rights monitors
working in the area.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION
On 1 January 1994, the EZLN, an armed opposition group, took control of several
towns in the state of Chiapas. Heavy fighting ensued for several days. On
12 January the government declared a ceasefire, although there were reports
of continuing land attacks by the armed forces during the following days.
An Amnesty International delegation visiting the area in late January, confirmed
earlier reports of a number of human rights abuses, such as the extrajudicial
executions of at least five rebels and the torture of rebel and civilian
detainees at the hands of the security forces.
Chiapas has long been the scene of continuing human rights violations by the
security forces in the context of land disputes and allegations of electoral
fraud. These violations have included massive and arbitrary arrests, torture,
ill-treatment and political killings. A large number of the victims of such
abuses belong to the poorest sectors of the population. Very rarely have those
responsible been brought to justice.
Members of the Church and grassroots organizations have been active in promoting
and protecting the rights of the indigenous populations of Chiapas for many
decades, frequently encountering opposition from the local authorities and
large landowners. For example, Bishop Samuel Ruiz, director of a local human
rights group in San Cristóbal de las Casas, state of Chiapas, received a number
of death threats in 1993 which it is believed were motivated by his work on
behalf of indigenous populations in Southern Mexico.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes and airmail letters
either in Spanish, English or your own language:
- expressing concern about the harassment suffered by medical personnel and
2
human rights monitors in Chiapas in the context of the armed conflict which
began on 1 January 1994 and urging immediate measures to guarantee their physical
integrity;
- urging an prompt and thorough investigation into this harassment and that
those found responsible be brought to justice.
APPEALS TO
1) President of the Republic
Lic. Carlos Salinas de Gortari
Presidente de la República
Palacio Nacional
06067 México D.F., Mexico
Telegrams: Presidente Salinas, México D.F., Mexico
Telexes: 170937 sppnme; 1774468 sppnme
Faxes: +52 5 271 1764
Salutation: Sr. Presidente/Dear President
2) Minister of Defense
Gral. Antonio Riviello Bazán
Secretario de Defensa Nacional
Secretaría de Defensa Nacional
Ávila Camacho e Industria Militar
Lomas de Sotelo
11640 México DF, Mexico
Telegramas: Ministro Defensa, Mexico DF, Mexico
Faxes: +52 5 557 7904
Salutation: Sr. Ministro/Dear Minister
COPIES OF YOUR APPEALS TO:
1) National Human Rights Commission
Sres.
Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos
Periférico Sur 3469
Col San Jerónimo Lídice
10200 México DF, Mexico
2) Non-governmental Human Rights Organization
Sres.
CONPAZ - Coordinación de los ONGs
de San Cristóbal de las Casas por la Paz
Avda. 5 de Mayo No. 21
Barrio La Merced
San Cristóbal de las Casas
Chiapas, Mexico
3) Weekly magazine
Sr. Editor
Proceso
Fresas 13
Colonia del Valle
03100 México DF, Mexico
and to diplomatic representatives of Mexico accredited to your country.
3
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 5 April 1994.

Choose a language to view report