The tragic disappearance of 43 students at the hands of municipal police and organized crime in Iguala, Guerrero on September 26 and 27th has ignited outrage among the Mexican population, and around the world. While these disappearances are far from an isolated case, they exemplify the endemic violence, collusion, and corruption in Mexico.
It is deeply troubling that rather than responding to the requests of the families of the disappeared students to seek justice and investigate the possible role of the armed forces and former governor of Guerrero in this tragedy, representatives of the federal government have made disparaging statements against the human rights organizations accompanying these families in their search for justice, including the Tlachinolllan Human Rights Ceneter and the Human Rights Center Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez. At a public event on December 10th, the Secretary of the Marines, Vidal Francisco Soberón Sanz said that the human rights groups that are accompanying the families of the disappeared students are using the families’ pain for their own interest and benefit.
Recently published reports reveal further efforts by the federal government to discredit the work of human rights groups, including Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN) files that characterize human rights defenders in Guerrero as “subversive groups” and label two well respected human rights defenders from the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center, Vidulfo Rosales and Abel Barrera, as “dangers to governability.”
Alarmed by these actions by the federal government that put human rights defenders and the families of the disappeared students at even greater risk, LAWG and partner organizations in the United States and Mexico—Ciudadanos en Apoyo a los Derechos Humanos; Due Process of Law Foundation; FUNDAR, Centro de Análisis e Investigación; and the Washington Office on Latin America—sent a letter to President Enrique Peña Nieto, as well as Secretary of the Interior Osorio Chong and Attorney General Murillo Karam, denouncing the harmful discrediting and criminalization of human rights defenders and their organizations in Mexico, particularly of those accompanying the families of the disappeared students in their search for justice, and urging them to pursue all lines of investigation to uncover all those responsible for the students’ disappearance.
See the complete letter here (in Spanish).