Witnesses from Mexico will testify today to Parliament’s International Human Rights Subcommittee about the missing students of Ayotzinapa, and call for overdue Canadian action

studentsMEDIA ADVISORY

(Ottawa, April 28, 2015) The mother of one of 46 students from a teacher-training college in the Mexican community of Ayotzinapa who were killed or forcibly disappeared during a September 2014 attack by Mexican police and gunmen will testify before Parliament’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights this afternoon, along with a surviving student and a lawyer for the families of the victims.

Their goal is to make visible a disturbing pattern of grave abuses perpetrated by state security forces, and call for attention to serious failures on the part of government authorities to protect human rights in Mexico, a country that Canada has designated a so-called “safe country”.

The members of the Mexican delegation who will testify to Canadian MPs are:

  • Hilda Legideño Vargas, whose son Jorge Antonio was forcibly disappeared in the September 2014 attack;
  • Jorge Luis Clemente Balbuena, a student leader at the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college;
  • Isidoro Vicario Aguilar, a Me’phaa indigenous lawyer with the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre, an award-winning NGO that represents families affected by the September 2014 attack and a prior attack in December 2011, in which two other Ayotzinapa students were killed.

The three witnesses will testify to members of the MP Sub-committee on International Human Rights from 1 to 2 PM on Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

Their appearance before the Subcommittee follows a tour through BC, Ontario, and Quebec to raise awareness about the attack on the Ayotzinapa students and an ongoing climate of danger for those who speak up about human rights violations in Mexico.  The tour is supported by more than 50 organizations in Canada.

Briefing note on events related to disappearances in Mexico from February 5 to March 5, 2015

March 9, 2015. DuringNormalAyotzinapa-compartimos-el-dolor-a 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

Do not forget the disappeared this Christmas.

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.

Disappearance and Murder of Education Students in Guerrero, Mexico

From Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre (September 29th, 2014)

On September 26, 2014, three students from the Rural Teacher Training School of the town of Ayotzinapa were among six people murdered extrajudicially by the municipal police of Iguala, Guerrero. This is a continuation of violence against the students of this school. In 2011, two students from this school were victims of extrajudicial killings during a public demonstration for better and inclusive education and job opportunities.

What happened?

On September 26th, 2014, 80 students from the Rural Teacher Training School of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero boarded three buses to travel to the capital of the state after collecting funds for their underfunded school. Municipal police vehicles cut these buses off and started shooting at the passengers without warning, killing and injuring several others students.

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Briefing note. Discussion of the Declaration of Absence in Cases of Disappearance

The effects of the crisis on unemployment, wages and benefits have put Mexicans in a situation of economic insecurity. Disappearances complicate the economic circumstances of a victim’s family. The disappeared contributed with an important share of the household income through wages and social benefits such as health care and government housing assistance in the National Workers Housing Fund Institute (Instituto Nacional para el Fomento de la Vivienda de los Trabajadores or INFONAVIT). Families of the disappeared cannot receive any pension payments because the whereabouts of the victim is unknown, and therefore she or he cannot be declared dead. Also, the situation of uncertainty and worry for their loved ones has impacted families’ physical and emotional health. Health expenses therefore add to the costs of investigation and litigation in the absence of state authorities’ investigations in the context of economic and physical insecurity in the country.

If families want to retain social benefits and receive some form of pension, they have to apply for the presumption of death of the victim, which takes up to six year at least to complete. This impacts families emotionally because once the person is presumed dead, investigations end. Thus, families feel they betrayed their disappeared by having to choose access to basic services over looking for their missing relative.

Continue reading