JESÚS MANUEL GRIJALVA MEJIA – Human Rights Lawyer
MAYEN ARELLANES CANO – Human Rights Lawyer
GILBERTO HERNÁNDEZ SANTIAGO – Human Rights Lawyer
ALMA GÓMEZ SOTO – Human Rights Defender
These four human rights activists have each faced threats to their safety, presumably because of their human rights work with the Comité de Liberación 25 de Noviembre (Committee for the Liberation of Detainees of 25 November). They are pursuing a judicial complaint against federal and state authorities for alleged genocide and crimes against humanity, in connection with serious human rights violations committed during the protests.
The Committee was established in the aftermath of clashes between protesters and police in 2006 in Oaxaca, relating to an unsuccessful campaign to force the state governor to resign. Political violence and demonstrations continued throughout the year, resulting in the deaths of at least 18 civilians, 370 injuries and 349 arrests. 149 of these arrests occurred after a protest on November 25th. Most have been released, but eight are still in custody. Members of the Committee provide legal assistance to and campaign on behalf of all those arrested during the Oaxaca political crisis.
On April 14th, 2007, while checking facts at the crime scene where one of the victims had been killed, Mr. Grijavla was approached by eight men traveling in a black van without number plates. They were wearing black uniforms and asked him about the file he was carrying, but left when a group of passers-by began to gather around the area. On June 14th, 2007, Mr. Grijalva received a threatening phone call from a man who told him, “Now I’m gonna kill you ‘cause you don’t get it, you son of a bitch”. The voice of the man was the same as the one that had threatened him on four consecutive days in April.
On May 28th, 2007, Ms. Arellanes was verbally abused by a group of men she did not know, although they appeared to know who she was and referred to her work with the Committee. On the same day, she was verbally attacked near her home by a group of men driving in a car without number plates. She had also earlier reported that her home had been watched by men inside a car with tinted windows.
After these threats to Mr. Grijavla and Ms. Arellanes, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights rules that the Mexican authorities must protect them and other members of the Committee. However, the state authorities only provided mobile phones.
Then, on February 22nd, 2008, Mr. Grijavla and Mr. Santiago received an anonymous written death threat at Mr. Grijavla’s office. It said the two men “are looking for death, go on, you are now warned. One lives in Crespo the other lives in the ISSSSTE [sic], before the end of the month you are going to die”. Two days later, Ms. Gomez was harassed at her home by two unidentified women, who appeared to be identifying her as a “left-wing” activist, who the authorities have accused of seeking to undermine the state during the protests.
Amnesty International believes their lives may be in danger.
Letter written 22 June, 2007 by Monique Pongracic-Speier
Letter written 26 February, 2008 by Lainie K. Shore