[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


Posted by 
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 

Press Release
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
E-mail: comunicacion(at)centroprodh(dot)org(dot)mx

Translation: Kristin Bricker

Freedom Archives
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110

415 863-9977

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