IACHR

Press Release

IACHR Condemns Violence in Oaxaca, Mexico

June 22, 2016

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María Isabel Rivero
IACHR Press and Communication Office
Tel: +1 (202) 370-9001
mrivero@oas.org

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Washington, D.C. - The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) strongly condemns the serious acts of violence recorded in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico, which left several people dead and scores injured. The Inter-American Commission calls on the State to encourage a process of dialogue in the context of the educational reforms in Mexico.

According to information publicly available, on June 19, 2016, federal and Oaxaca state security forces clashed with members and supporters of the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), a teachers’ trade union, which had been blocking roads for the past week. The clashes erupted after state and federal police mounted a joint operation to clear the road that leads from Oaxaca to Mexico City in the municipality of Nochixtlán. There were also reports of vandalism and looting by persons not yet identified.

In a joint press release, the federal and Oaxaca state governments confirmed that 8 people were killed in the confrontations, 7 of them from gunshot wounds and one while handling an incendiary device. In addition, press versions indicate that 9 persons have been killed. The authorities also reported that 41 federal police, 14 state police, and 53 civilians were injured. The IACHR notes that the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) called for precautionary measures to ensure that the injured received appropriate medical care. The authorities reported that 21 people were arrested during the unrest. The authorities later announced that a total of 23 arrests were made. According to press versions, all detainees have been freed.

The CNTE, for its part, claims that several people are missing. In a press release, it reported that the Oaxaca Ombudsman's Office had requested precautionary measures to safeguard the well-being of seven individuals who were missing after police broke up the protest on Sunday: Ángel Santiago Hernández, Juan Velasco Méndez, Daniel Medina, María Carrillo, Gustavo Moreno Bravo, Inocente Pinacho, and a person called Alejandro, whose last name is not known. The Ombudsman's Office assumes that the individuals concerned were deprived of their liberty during the operation to clear the road.

Elidio Ramos Zárate, a reporter for El Sur, a regional newspaper, was killed by a gunshot to the head while covering the events in Juchitán. According to publicly available information, he had been warned in advance not to report on the violence. The Special Rapporteurship on Freedom of Expression has issued a press release on this killing.

The IACHR deeply regrets these violent incidents and calls on the State to promote a process of dialogue within the context of the educational reforms in order to reach a solution consistent with a democratic society and full observance of human rights. In this sense, the IACHR welcomes the announcement of the launching of a dialogue between the CNTE and the Government.

The Commission enjoins the Mexican State to meet its obligation to conduct a meaningful investigation into the events and to punish in accordance to law those responsible for the deaths and other acts of violence. The IACHR also urges the State to take the necessary steps to ensure the rights of persons under its jurisdiction by adopting effective and reasonable mechanisms to prevent their violation.

A principal, autonomous body of the OAS, the IACHR derives its mandate from the OAS Charter and the American Convention on Human Rights. The Inter-American Commission has a mandate to promote respect for human rights in the region and acts as a consultative body to the OAS in this area. The Commission is composed of seven independent members who are elected in an individual capacity by the OAS General Assembly and who do not represent their countries of origin or residence.

No. 083/16