March 9, 2015. During the month of February, Mexico’s General Prosecutor’s Office (PGR) attempted to close the case of the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa by arguing that, based on the testimonies from witnesses and evidence gathered in a landfill site in Cocula Guerrero, the students were incinerated by the criminal group Guerreros Unidos. The Argentine Forensic Team questioned this as they were not present during the collection of evidence in Cocula. The Forensic Team was also concerned about the possible manipulation of evidence in order to fit the PGR’s conclusions. Academics from Mexico’s National University also question the PGR’s argument and indicated that the physical evidence provided by the former contradicts the incineration argument. According to these experts, the burning of bone tissues requires special equipment, which was not available in the landfill site. Continue reading
The Mexican government is hoping that people will be distracted by the Christmas holidays and will forget the disappeared, particularly the search for the #42 #Ayotzinapa students. Do not let the Mexican government do that. Send the following message to twitter @EPN @PresidenciaMX “Search for the disappeared. Bring them back alive.” Here it is a video of the families of the #42 missing students describing how their Christmas is going to be this year.
August 30th is the International Day of the Disappeared. This day raises awareness of the fate of individuals whose whereabouts is unknown to their relatives and/or legal representatives in cases of involuntary disappereances because of armed conflict or authoritarian regimes. In preparation for this day, different human rights organizations and families of the disappeared are carrying out different events tomorrow throughout Mexico. Please support the families by sending a twitter to Mexico’s president asking him to #findthedisappeared@PresidenciaMX
If the twitter messages come from abroad, you will giving the families a lot of support.
Families of the disappeared march from Torreon to Saltillo Coahuila to demand state authorities to follow adequate protocols in search operations (such as preserving evidence, avoid contamination of search locations, etc) (Photos by Itzel)
On February 8th, 2014, the Governor of Coahuila Ruben Moreira and the Assistant Attorney Juan José Yañez informed FUUNDEC and representatives of the UN Human Rights High Commissioner and the National Commission of Human rights about the recent search operations for the disappeared taking place in the northern region of the state of Coahuila. The governor affirmed that heavy machinery was not used in the operation, and journalists were not allowed in the search zone. He also mentioned that appropriate protocols for the collection of evidence were followed.
However, appropriate protocols were not followed as it was revealed by a news report released by the American channel Univision. The video shows how evidence was not preserved, the crime scene was not protected and heavy machinery was used. These practices are not compatible with international search protocols and diminish the possibilities of finding the disappeared and arrest those responsible for their disappearance. To the families of the victims, this search operation is more of a public relations strategy rather than a genuine effort to assist the victims and their families. For that reason, FUUNDEC decided to suspend any dialogue and consultation with state and federal authorities until the Governor of Coahuila and the General Commissioner of the Federal Police Enrique Galindo give FUUNDEC an explanation for the lack of appropriate protocol in the search operations.
FUUNDEC also asks international organizations for their assistance in the collection, classification and preservation of evidence that results from search operations. (In press release from January 31, 2014, FUUNDEC suggested the Government of Coahuila to join the Agreement of Collaboration for the Identification of Human Remains with the Attorney-in-General’s Office. This agreement was already used in the massacres of San Fernando and Cadereyta. The goal of this agreement is the creation of a Commission of Forensic Experts led by Argentina’s group of forensic anthropologists, which includes international and national forensic experts).
FUUNDEC is also organizing a “Truth Caravan” to demand results and the implementation of appropriate search protocols to state authorities. The caravan will depart from Torreon Coahuila on February 14th, 2014 and arrive the same day at the city of Saltillo, capital of the state.
Please contact the Governor of Coahuila on twitter @GobDeCoahuila and the Federal police @SSP_mx to show your support to the families in their protest.
“The impunity during the dirty war in the 1970s in Mexico set the conditions for today’s disappearances. If something had been done before, this would not be happening today.” These were the words of Yanett Bautista, member of the Foundation Nadia Erika Bautista from Colombia. She discussed how the families of the disappeared have driven the process of justice in Colombia. Families are the one searching for their relatives and presenting law initiatives to Congress. Examples of these are the law recognizing enforced disappearances as a crime and the homage law. The latter involves the obligation of the state to create a Genetic Database of Unidentified Bodies and treat human remains according to international standards.
Federica Riccardi from Red Cross International expressed that search protocols need to have an open approach in terms of the kind of evidence that is included into the investigations such as photos, study of circumstances and witnesses’ testimonies. These protocols have to be elaborated with the collaboration of the victims’ families.
On June 5th, 2013, United Forces of Our Disappeared in Coahuila and Mexico (FUUNDEC/FUNDEM) organized a three day international event on Enforced Disappearances in Mexico in the city of Saltillo, capital of the state of Coahuila. This is the first event of its kind in Mexico because it brings together the relatives of the disappeared, local and federal state authorities and national and international experts on the issue. The event began with the words of one of the members of FUUNDEC/FUNDEM, Lourdes Herrera. She is the mother of Brandon Esteban, who is 8 year-old boy that was disappeared in August 2009. “I represent all families of the disappeared, …We hope that the outcome of these three days of work go beyond words to reach real commitments from all stakeholders in order to address our legitimate demands: the immediate search of our relatives and the right to justice and truth.” After her participation, all families claimed: “Our relatives were taken away from us alive, we want them back alive!”
Following the opening speech from Lourdes Herrera, Reinar Huhle, member of UN Committee against Enforced Disappearance mentioned in his keynote that enforced disappearances have become generalized phenomena. It is not only found in military dictatorships but also in democracies such as Colombia and Mexico. In the latter contexts, enforced disappearances become more complex given the involvement of both state and non-state actors.
The second keynote speaker was Roberto Garretón. He is an expert on enforced disappearance from Chile. He discussed how the state is always involved in any human rights violation. In the case of enforced disappearance, this includes not only the direct intervention of state actors but also their negligence and distortion of information. He focused on the Chilean experience. According to Garretón, the work of human rights defenders should be the search for the truth through interdisciplinary research and the recording of all cases of disappearance. He also mentioned how Mexico has not received any solidarity from Chile and Argentina in this human security crisis, even though Mexico opened its doors to refugees during military dictatorships and supported those Chileans and Argentineans who were fighting against enforced disappearances in their countries.
Saltillo, Coahuila, April 16th, 2013
Through social networks and the media we have heard of the disappearance of four students from the School of Accounting and Administration of the Autonomous University of Coahuila (UAC) on Thursday April 11th, 2013 in the city of Monclova, Coahuila. United Forces for Our Disappeared in Coahuila (FUUNDEC) and the Diocesan Centre for Human Rights Fray Juan de Larios demand that these students, Cecilia Picazo, Marlyn Peña, Cynthia Rivera and Carlos Nuñez are found alive and safe.
Saltillo, Coahuila, April 8th, 2013. The previous weekend, the United Forces for Our Disappeared in Coahuila (FUUNDEC) held its bimonthly meetings with senior officials of the Federation and representatives of the Congress, convened by the Governor of the state of Coahuila. Additionally, the Governor took the time to attend and listen to the tracking of the cases, between the Public Prosecution Office and FUUNDEC. In this context, The Diocesan Centre for Human Rights and Fray Juan de Larios and the Human Rights Centre Juan Gerardi made the following considerations:
- After recognition of list of more than 27 thousand disappearances during the past six years, we finally have taken the first steps necessary to begin solving the humanitarian tragedy that means one of the most painful passages in the national history: recognizing the magnitude of the situation.
- In the first quarter of this year, FUUNDEC/FUNDEM and supporting organizations held meetings directly with the Secretary of the Interior, the Attorney General, human rights commissions of the Senate and Chamber of Deputies, the Federal National Police and various national and international bodies, in order to bring national attention to the fate and whereabouts of the disappeared.
- In the latter event, the authorities agreed on the criteria to address all disappearances. Also, there is a commitment to organize an International Forum on Disappearances in Mexico organized by FUUNDEC/FUNDEM and the Government of the State of Coahuila, on June 5, 6 and 7, 2013 in Law School of the University of Coahuila.
- Additionally, following a request from FUUNDEC, the Governor and his cabinet witnessed the development of the investigations, in which the Public Prosecution Office informed the families of the current status of their case. Thus, policy makers of Coahuila, listened with attention and respect in circumstances of extreme pain to understand the shortcomings of the search for the disappeared.
We acknowledge the attention paid by these authorities. The Governor and his cabinet are now fully informed of the facts. This dialogue has not occurred in other states in our knowledge. The responsibility of the state government of Coahuila therefore is to promote with their counterparts in the National Commission of State Governors the need to have a comprehensive approach to disappearances with the federal government in order to have coordinated actions nationwide. The road is long, but these authorities are taking the first steps. Families are in a hurry to find their relatives. They also demand state actions determined by the consensus of the families with substantive results.
“Searching for our relatives restlessly”
United Forces for Our Disappeared in Coahuila│Diosecan Centre for Human Rights “Fray Juan de Larios” AC│Human Rights Centre “Juan Gerardi” AC