Fifth visit for the incidents in Oaxaca

Appeal Fifth International Civil Commission on Observance
of Human Rights for the incidents in Oaxaca

Barcelona, December 7, 2006

To Mexican civil society
To international civil society
To the Mexican government
To the media
To the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca

In February of 1998, as a result of the killings in Acteal three months earlier, international civil society responded with diverse mobilizations. It expressed its repudiation of the massacre against the rebellious indigenous people in Chiapas and sought to find a peaceful solution to to the conflict.

Over 500 organizations and individuals across five continents supported the creation of the International Civil Human Rights Watch Commission (CCIODH) that traveled to Chiapas at the time.

In November of 1999 a second commission carried out a follow-up visit to Chiapas in order to assess the situation based on observations and recommendations made by the previous commission.

In February of 2002, the CCIODH carried out its third visit. After the electoral victory of the new government, its objective was to assess the possibility of a just solution to the conflict. After the ratification of the new constitutional legislation on indigenous people (Ley Indígena) in 2001 the possibility of a just solution had been frustrated through the incompletion of the San Adrés Accords, signed by the Mexican government. This was denounced by the EZLN, the National Indigenous Congress (CNI) as Mexican and international civil society.

During the month of May and June of 2006 the CCIODH carried out its fourth visit to Mexico. On May 3 and 4 of this year, in the cities of San Salvador Atenco and Texcoco, 2000 policemen were involved in a police raid resulting in two deaths, dozens of serious injuries, ca. 300 unwarranted detainees and the deportation of five foreigners. Grave denunciations were made pertaining to sexual abuse, rape, torture and humiliation that violated fundamental human rights.

As a result of each of these four commissions, the CCIODH published detailed reports and presented these to all interviewees in Mexico (including government and legislative institutions, human rights organizations, lawyers, activists, affected citizens), to all of the organizations and individuals who supported the work of the commission as well as to international institutions. These included, among others, the European Parliament, legislative bodies accross several countries, the Central American Parliament, and the office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

Since May of this year a further conflict erupted in the Mexican state of Oaxaca, involving unionized teachers in demand of better salaries. Following the state government repression on July 14, the union struggle coalesced into a wide popular movement, the Popular Assembly of the Peoples of Oaxaca (APPO), that has since demanded the stepping down of the state governor, Ulises Ruíz Ortíz. During the past six months, the conflict has been growing more tense, involving the evacuation of the camps and manwatches of the APPO. During these months at least 17 people have been assassinated, hundreds detained and dozens haven been disappeared. Human rights organizations have documented instances of torture, mistreatment, and threats to which prisoners have been submitted, as well as persecution and abuse by a police and paramilitary groups. National as well as international political mobilization has been significant in denouncing what has occurred, and seeking to find a peaceful solution.
In light of this situation we again appeal to Mexican civil society, to the federal and state governments, to the organizations and nongovernmental organizations involved to grant us the trust that you have conceded us during the four previous visits of the CCIODH; that you grant our presence in Mexico and engage in dialogue with us, and that you permit us to carry out our work in a free and responsible manner.

We also appeal to all the organizations who have supported us in the past to support us again in order to observe, reflect and analyze the human rights situation in the present conflict in Oaxaca.

We, the below signers, support this manifest which will be presented to the media, to the Mexican government and to the national instances as well as the civil society at large.

The CCIODH will travel to Mexico on the 16th of December in order to organize its fifth visit. Between January 7th and 20th, the CCIODH will carry out interviews with all actors and parties involved in the conflict. As has been the case in previous visits, the CCIODH's will draft a report to be presented to all instances, institutions and organizations involved.

Barcelona, December 7, 2006

International Civil Comission for Human Rights Observation