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Escalation of Hostilities in Chiapas: Urgent call for international action!

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  • SIUHIN@aol.com
    Escalation of Hostilities in Chiapas: Urgent call for international action! Date: 8/31/02 12:28:54 AM Pacific Daylight Time from:
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 31, 2002
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      Escalation of Hostilities in Chiapas: Urgent call for international action!
      Date: 8/31/02 12:28:54 AM Pacific Daylight Time
      from: mexiconews@... list.

      Friends,

      We bring you this report about the recent escalation of hostilities in
      Chiapas including the dispatch of more soldiers of the Mexican Army to
      the conflicted Selva Lacandona (Lacondon Jungle) region.

      Representatives of over 30 human rights organizations in Chiapas are
      responding to the increase of of hostilities, confrontations, harassment
      and assassinations in indigenous communities. On August 28 two human
      rights accompaniment and observation caravans left San Cristóbal de Las
      Casas, Chiapas for the municipalities of Ricardo Flores Magon, San
      Miguel and Olga Isabel to investigate the current situation in the
      region. We will continue to bring you updates.

      In this update please find:

      1) Background information and current reports
      2) Action YOU can take
      3) Press Communique issued by on August 27, 2002 by human rights
      organizations in Chiapas
      4) Conflicts in Chiapas signal lack of dialogue, AFP - 8/30/2002

      For more information please contact Carleen at
      carleen@....

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      1) Background information and current reports

      In the last two weeks, the conflict in Chiapas has escalated,
      culminating in confrontations, forced displacement and the murders of 3
      Zapatistas. The Human Rights Center 'Fray Bartolome de las Casas'
      reports that the number dead is 5. Old paramilitary groups have
      reactivated, while others, like the OPDIC, have appeared publicly for
      the first time. The paramilitaries’ actions have been complimented by
      the deployment of hundreds of additional Mexican soldiers throughout
      the “canyon” region of Chiapas. The Mexican Army has advanced its
      positions throughout the conflict zone, establishing new check points
      and bases, ensuring the movement of paramilitary groups. Several
      Zapatista communities have fled because of paramilitary violence, while
      others are currently occupied by the Mexican army. This latest round of
      displacement occurred on the heals of the United Nations
      Secretary-General on Internally Displaced Persons, Dr. Francis M. Deng's
      visit to Chiapas.

      The appearance and reactivation of paramilitary groups is reminiscent to
      the conditions of fall 1997, prior to the massacre at Acteal. These
      actions represent an escalation not yet witnessed during the Fox
      administration and mark a new stage of counter-insurgency warfare
      against Zapatista communities. Coincidently, the recent wave of violence
      has occurred primarily in and around the Montes Azules Biosphere
      Reserve. The predominately Zapatista communities located Montes Azules
      have been accused of environmental crimes and are under threat of
      "relocation."

      These recent events seriously threaten the fragile peace process in
      Chiapas, which has been hindered since the passage of the Indigenous
      Rights and Culture counter-reform law in 2001. Continued paramilitary
      and military violence will only exacerbate the already tense situation.
      Human rights groups in Mexico are calling on the Mexican government to
      take urgent steps demilitarize indigenous communities and to punish and
      dismantle paramilitary groups before the peace process can resume.

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      2) Action YOU can take

      --- Travel to Chiapas and volunteer as a human rights observer: Global
      Exchange continues to facilitate for Human Rights Observers to
      participate in 'Peace Camps' in Chiapas. The communities need human
      rights observers in all of the communities listed above. For more
      information about applying as a Human Rights Observer, please visit:
      <http://www.globalexchange.org/campaigns/mexico/volunteers.html> or
      write to mexico@...

      --- Contact the Mexican government and express your concern for the
      peace process in Chiapas: Fax, call and email the Mexican embassy in
      your state/country. More information and sample text is below.

      --- Donate to local communities in Chiapas: As a result of the recent
      paramilitary violence and military occupation, several indigenous
      communities have been forced from their communities, and lack both food
      and medicine. Local organizations are coordinating collections for food,
      medicine and clothing to be delivered to the newly displaced
      communities. If you would like to make a financial donation to support
      this process, please contact Global Exchange’s Mexico program for more
      information (email mexico@... or call 415.255.7296 x 239)

      To contact the Mexican government call, email, fax or write to your
      local Mexican embassy. In Washington DC you can reach the Embassy at:
      1911 Pennsylvania Ave. N.W., Washington, D.C. 20006, t. (202) 728 -
      1600, e. mexembusa@.... For a directory of consulates in the
      United States visit:
      http://www.embassyofmexico.org/english/consulados/listofconsulates.htm

      You can use the text below as guidelines for your message to the Mexican
      government. Shortly we will post a fax action on the Global Exchange
      site. In the meantime your action is needed to pressure the Mexican
      government, the Governor of Chiapas and the Supreme Court to intervene
      in the escalating situation in Chiapas. Human rights organizations in
      Chiapas have complied this list of demands:

      To President Vicente Fox
      We call on President Fox, as commander and chief of the Mexican Armed
      Forces, to halt all military actions in Chiapas, considering that the
      Law for Dialog and Reconciliation is still in force. The increased
      militarization only contributes to the deterioration and radicalization
      of the conflict in Chiapas, further distancing the possibility of true
      peace in the state. We also call for President Fox to testify on the
      military strategy initiated during the last 15 days, deploying hundreds
      of additional soldiers to the conflict zone. Finally, we call on
      President Fox to take the necessary measures so that soldiers who commit
      human rights violations be punished.
      To the Chiapas State government of Pablo Salazar

      To Governor of Chiapas Pablo Salazar
      We call on Governor Salazar to investigate the Organization for the
      Defense of Indigenous and Farmers Rights (OPDIC) and its leader Pedro
      Chulin, as well as other known paramilitaries organizations. These
      groups have, and continue to operate with absolute impunity. We call
      Governor Salazar to prioritize the investigation into the murder of Jose
      Lopez Santiz, former inhabitant of the community 6 de agosto,
      municipality of Altamirano. Lopez Santiz' murder, as well as the
      homicides in the community of Amaytik, continue in the shadow of
      impunity.

      To the Supreme Court
      We call on the Supreme Court to recognize the rights of Indigenous
      Peoples as an integral component to true peace. We ask that the Court
      emit a favorable ruling with respect to the Constitutional appeals
      process against the Indigenous Rights and Culture counter-reform bill,
      as an unmistakable example of their vote for peace.

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      3) Press Communique issued by on August 27, 2002 by human rights groups
      in Chiapas

      San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas,
      August 27, 2002

      PRESS COMMUNIQUE
      URGENT CALL!

      To Organizations
      To the People of Mexico
      To National and International Civil Society

      The below-signed organizations are making a call for urgent
      mobilization, because of the intensification of the war climate - the
      confrontations, harassment and assassinations in indigenous communities,
      which have taken place during the month of August in:
      San Antonio Escobar, Quexil, Palestina, La Culebra, Arroyo Granizo,
      Chamizal Ach'lum, Monte Li'bano, Taniperlas Ejido, Censo, Santa Elena,
      Monte Li'bano Ejido, Lacando'n and Santo Domingo, Reforma K'an Akil,
      Yocnabil, Pamala', Nuevo Guadalupe, 6 de Agosto Nuevo Centro de
      Poblacio'n, El Salvador Poblado. Communities surrounding and included
      within the Autonomous Municipalities of Ricardo Flores Mago'n, 17 de
      Noviembre, Francisco Go'mez, San Pedro Polho', Francisco Villa, Primero
      de Enero, Olga Isabel, Che Guevara, Vicente Guerrero, Miguel Hidalgo,
      Lucio Caba~as and San Manuel.

      It is in these areas where the paramilitaries have reactivated their
      actions, in full and open provocation against the Autonomous
      Municipalities, laying siege to communities, blocking accesses,
      attacking and assassinating EZLN members, authorities and support bases,
      under the repeated cover of the Mexican Army, which is openly occupying
      these indigenous territories. Except for Polho', all of the rest are in
      the coveted Selva Lacandona. These incidents have caused the forced
      displacement of entire families, under conditions of food shortage,
      precarious sanitary conditions and their being uprooted from their
      communities.

      By agreement of the signatory organizations, we respectfully and
      fraternally are calling on you to:

      1. Initiate a campaign of denuncias regarding these events.

      2. Organize, on an urgent basis, a caravan to Chiapas for the
      observation and accompaniment of the affected communities.

      3. To collect foods and medicine for the affected communities.

      We are providing you with ENLACE CIVIL's information as a contact in
      order to coordinate with us regarding the requested Caravan:
      enlacecivil@..., telephone: (011) 52 (967) 678-2104

      Sincerely,
      Education for Peace Collective (CEPAZ), K'inal Antzetik, Community
      Defenders Network, Enlace Civil, Center for Political Analysis and
      Social and Economic Research (CAPISE), Council of Organizations of
      Indigenous Traditional Doctors and Midwives of Chiapas (COMPITCH), Fray
      Bartolome' de las Casas Human Rights Center, Miguel Agusti'n Pro Jua'rez
      Human Rights Center, Center for Economic and Political Research for
      Community Action (CIEPAC), CEDIAC, Fray Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada Human
      Rights Center, Global Exchange, Commission for Community Reconciliation
      (CORECO), Training and Development A.C. (FOCA), Los Altos Regional
      Coordinator for Civil Society in Resistance, "Luna Creciente" Cultural
      Space, Community Communication Promoters A.C., "All Rights for All"
      Network of Human Rights Civil Organizations, Fray Francisco de Victoria
      Human Rights Center O.P.A.C., "Oscar Arnulfo Romero" Solidarity
      Committee. Social Development for Indigenous Mexicans (DESMI),
      Appropriate Technology Exchange (ITA), Chiapas Civic Alliance.

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      4) Conflicts in Chiapas signal lack of dialogue
      AFP - 8/30/2002

      Recurring conflicts between rival groups in the southernmost state of
      Chiapas that this week killed three people highlight the consequences of
      the lack of dialogue between the federal government and the Zapatista
      guerillas, local sources say.

      The most recent violence occurred in the "autonomous municipalities" of
      Ocosingo and Altamirano, independently governed areas set up by
      Zapatista rebels after the1994 indigenous uprising.

      In regard increased tensions in the region, the leader of the
      organization for Indigenous Communities, Porfirio Encino, said Zapatista
      support bases had "hardened their position as part of their resistance
      strategy." He claimed the recently set up rebel checkpoints around
      Zapatista communities are a source of friction among regional
      inhabitants, not all of whom are Zapatista followers.

      Local priest, Gonzalo Ituarte, blamed the "incredible deterioration" in
      the socio-political situation in southeastern Chiapas as a reaction to
      the closing of political means of negotiation.

      An Indigenous Rights Bill passed in Congress last year was met with
      hostility by the Zapatista National Liberation Army (EZLN) who claimed
      it did not meet their demands for increased autonomy and land rights. A
      1996 accord, which was signed by both the government and the Zapatista
      rebels, has yet to be fulfilled.

      The polarization and tensions that in recent months have affected jungle
      communities in Chiapas, provoked a recent warning from Felipe Arizmendi,
      the Bishop of San Cristobal de las Casas, the main site of the 1994
      rebel uprising:

      "The seed of hate and violence has been sown in many hearts, which makes
      us fear that, at any moment, we could see the repetition of such
      terrible events as that of Acteal," he said. In Dec. 1997, 45 Indians
      were murdered in the highland village of Acteal by paramilitaries.


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      Peace, No War!
      War is not the answer, for only love can conquer hate!

      Please visit our global antiwar information, resource site:
      www.PeaceNoWar.net
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