[Ppnews] Petition of 11 women from Atenco, victims of torture
Political Prisoner News
ppnews at freedomarchives.org
Fri May 9 11:48:16 EDT 2008
Two Years On, Atenco Still Hurts
Bricker - May 6, 2008 at 1:57 am
Two years ago, on May 3-4, 2006, federal, state,
and municipal police violently invaded San
Salvador Atenco, leaving two people dead and 218
people imprisoned. To date, only a handful of
police have been prosecuted for very minor
crimes, and many of those convicted have since
been exonerated. However, sixteen activists
remain imprisoned, some with life sentences.
The invasion incurred because a handful of Atenco
residents attempted their yearly ritual of
selling flowers in a local market before Mother's
Day despite plans to build a Wal-Mart on that
site. Police told them to leave the area despite
a previous agreement with local authorities that
they could sell flowers there, but only for the
holiday. The Popular Front in Defense of the Land
(FPDT), adherents to the Zapatistas' Other
Campaign, arrived to support the flower vendors
in resistance. The police attacked, and more
adherents to the Zapatistas' Other Campaign
arrived in Atenco shortly thereafter from
surrounding states to support the FPDT, because
an injury to one adherent to the Other Campaign
is an injury to the entire Other Campaign.
Of the 47 women arrested during the police riot
in Atenco, twenty-six report being mentally,
physically, or sexually tortured during their
detention. To date, no police officer has been
convicted of torture or sexual abuse.
One woman, María Paticia Romero Hernádez, remains
imprisoned for her participation in Atenco. She
reports being threatened by prison officials.
Prison officials recently moved a prisoner who's
been harassing her into her cell. The deputy
director of the prison also recently accused her
of leading a prisoners' movement against prison
authorities. For this reason he says he is going
to plant evidence on her "to aggravate her legal situation."
This past week activists mobilized in Mexico City
to commemorate and protest two years of impunity,
repression, and unjust imprisonment.
On April 29, female ex-prisoners of Atenco
protested outside the Special Prosecutor's Office
for Crimes Related to Violence Against Women to
their petition before the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights (IACHR)regarding the
sexual torture they suffered while detained. The
IACHR is considered an option of last resort,
when citizens are unable to obtain justice
through their own countries' legal systems.
The women and their supporters protested outside
the Special Prosecutor's Office for Crimes
Related to Violence Against Women to make clear
that they were forced to seek justice in an
international body because of the Special
Prosecutor's failure to act on their cases.
Sufficient evidence exists to indict the police
who tortured them, but the state has failed to do so.
The women report having tried "many, many times"
to schedule a meeting with the Special
Prosecutor. Mariana de las Selvas has been out of
prison for three months. In that time, she's
tried on three separate occasions to meet with
the Special Prosecutor, but the office always
ignored her requests. It wasn't until the women
filed their petition with the IACHR and held a
protest and press conference outside the Special
Prosecutor's office to denounce its inaction did
the Special Prosecutor insist on meeting with the ex-prisoners.
The women agreed to the meeting, and entered with
a single question for the Special Prosecutor:
What has the Special Prosecutor's Office for
Crimes Related to Violence Against Women done in
the past two years to punish the police
responsible for torture in Atenco?
Representatives from the Special Prosecutor's
office spoke for thirty minutes in response to
the question, effectively saying that they had
done nothing. Selvas reports that they gave
"every excuse under the sun" for why they hadn't
met with the ex-prisoners or prosecuted the
police for torture, sexual abuse, and rape.
Over the weekend of May 3-4, Atenco residents and
supporters held a march and protest in Atenco to
protest abuse, repression, impunity, and to
demand the release of the remaining political
marched in Mexico City on March 4 with the same demands.
After the Mexico City march
held a hip hop festival with rappers, dance hall
singers, and b-boys, all demanding justice for
Atenco and the immediate and unconditional
release of the country's political prisoners.
Performers included New Yorker BocaFloja
(originally from Mexico City) and national
sensation Magisterio. Female artists were well-represented at the event.
Release: Atenco Torture Survivors Petition IACHR
Submitted May 6, 2008 - 1:59 am by
Mexico City, April 29, 2008
Petition of 11 women from Atenco, victims of torture, before the IACHR
Today 11 women, victims of torture during the
events of May 3-4, 2006, in Atenco, have
presented a petition, accompanied by the "Miguel
Agustin Pro Juarez" Human Rights Center (Centro
Prodh) and the International Center for Justice
and Law (CEJIL in its Spanish initials), before
Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) seeking
justice and reparations for the damage caused.
The federal, state, and municipal police
incursion into San Salvador Atenco on March 3-4,
2006, resulted in human rights violations.
Twenty-six of the 47 detained women have
denounced having been victims of sexual,
physical, or verbal violence by the police that
guarded them inside the the vehicles that
transported them to the Santiaguito prison.
The Attorney General of the Republic (PGR in its
Spanish initials), via the Special Prosecutor for
Crimes Related to Violence Against Women
(FEVIMTRA in its Spanish initials), headed at
that time by Alicia Elena Perez Duarte, initiated
an investigation into those who would seem to be
responsible for the crimes committed against some
women in the Atenco case. Since February 2007,
Centro Prodh, a friend of the court in the
complaint, verbally and orally requested on
multiple occasions that the then-Prosecutor bring
charges against the probable perpetrators,
something which never occurred despite having all
of the necessary prerequisites to do so. Almost
two years after the FEVIMTRA initiated the
preliminary investigation (FEVIM/03/05/2006), no
one has been charged for the torture that the
detained women suffered at the hands of public security.
In the State of Mexico a preliminary
investigation (TOL/I/466/2006) was incorporated
in civil court. Only 21 police were charged, but
not for the crime of torture. Rather, they were
charged with minor crimes such as abuse of
authority or lewd acts. To date, 15 police have
already been exonerated and currently only six
police officers face charges. Notwithstanding,
it's possible that the FEVIMTRA could charge more
perpetrators in case 03/05-2006 for the crime of torture of a sexual nature.
On January 25, 2008, a Spanish citizen who
suffered serious attacks against her physical
integrity and was deported during the previously
mentioned operations, filed a criminal complaint
with the Spanish National Court. She denounced
acts of torture which are susceptible to being
recognized by the courts of said country owed to
the principle of national jurisdiction which
prevails in cases of serious crimes, as sanctioned by international law.
It is troubling that two years after the crimes
occurred there are no results and the victims
continue waiting for the attention and support
guaranteed by the Mexican Constitution. This
demonstrates yet again the deficiencies of the
Mexican justice system; the governmental entities
have proven themselves ineffective with respect
to the charging of authorities responsible for
the violations of human rights committed in Atenco. Impunity prevails.
The lack of results of the legal processes
initiated in the State of Mexico demonstrate that
in this state the processes of prosecution and
the administration of justice lack impartiality
and objectiveness; they remain under the
governor's sphere of control. In the federal
realm the situation is no different. The
investigations initiated by the FEVIMTRA have not
resulted in charges despite the fact that the
women denouncing the torture have provided
sufficient information for this to occur.
Faced with this situation the women who were
victims of sexual torture have decided to turn to
the IACHR, an autonomous body within the
Organization of American States. Cases are
presented to the IACHR when the State has not
complied with its obligations of internally
investigating and punishing the perpetrators of criminal acts.
Today the victims, the Centro Prodh, and CEJIL
have presented a petition before the IACHR with
the goal of seeking justice and reparations for
the victims of this case, charging the Mexican
State with failing to meet its obligations before
the international community. It should be
remembered that the Mexican State is responsible
for the actions of its agents. The history of the
case is described, along with the complete
testimonies of the 11 victims/petitioners and the
human rights that are considered violated: the
right to physical integrity, the right to
personal freedom and security, the right to
access to justice, the right to equality and to
not be discriminated against, and the right to
dignity and privacy. The evidence consists of 20
annexes, including forensic evidence collected as
dictated by the Manual for the Efficient
Investigation and Documentation of Torture and
Cruel, Inhuman, or Degrading Treatment or
Punishment (Istanbul Protocol) practiced by the
National Commission for Human Rights, the
Collective Against Torture and Impunity, and the
PGR (only two), which returned results that
indicated the existence of acts of torture.
Through the international accusation the
petitioners want the IACHR to declare that the
Mexican State detrimentally violated their human
rights, and and that it recommends to the State a
serious, impartial, and effective investigation
where the perpetrators of torture will be
sanctioned, as well as sufficient reparations for the damage.
In Atenco a group identified by the police as
"subversive" was systematically tortured: the
women weren't only individually abused, but
rather, also as a group. They were treated like
objects, as spoils of war. Men and women were
identified by the state as enemies and not as citizens.
Cases like Atenco also demonstrate the lack of
lack of recourse for citizens' participation and
for the legitimate expression of discontent.
Faced with the the sustained, innovative forms of
manifesting popular discontent, the government
responds making disproportionate and illegitimate use of force.
The persistent difficulty in accessing justice
and the fact that the cases of human rights
violations won't be handled with the priority
that they require, it becomes necessary to
continue searching for paths that make justice possible for the victims.
Communications and Analysis Department of the Centro Prodh
Translation: Kristin Bricker
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
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