Yesica Sánchez Maya (f), lawyer, human rights defender and Aline Castellanos Jurado (f), human rights defender, have been documenting and publicizing human rights violations that have taken place in Oaxaca since the beginning of widespread protests in June. They are now facing arrests on charges which appear to be baseless. Other human rights activists arrested during the Oaxaca protests have been reportedly tortured and ill treated in custody, and it is feared that these two women could face the same treatment.
Aline Castellanos home was broken into and searched while on April 28th, 2007. The burglary happened the day after a Judge issued a warrant for her arrest. This is the third warrant that has been issued for her arrest, the first two were annulled.
A warrant for the arrest of at least one of the women was issued by a judge in Etla, near Oaxaca. The charges relate to the occupation of public broadcaster Corporación Oaxaqueña de Radio y Televisión, also known as Canal 9, by protesters on August 1st, 2007, who were only evicted by the police in November. Yesica Sánchez and Aline Castellanos categorically deny involvement in any offences. Amnesty International delegates visited Oaxaca in November to document widespread human rights violations committed during the crisis, including the fabrication of criminal charges against protesters. Human rights defenders played a key role in bringing human rights violations to public attention. Amnesty International believes that levelling false charges against these two human rights defenders may be intended as reprisal for their work.
It is feared that if arrested, Aline Castellanos and Yesica Sánchez could face the same treatment as other Oaxacan human rights activists and members of the Asamblea Popular de Pueblo de Oaxaca (Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca, APPO) who were arrested during the Oaxaca protests.
Lawyer Yesica Sánchez Maya works for the Liga Mexicana para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos (LIMEDDH), the Mexican League for the Defense of Human Rights. LIMEDDH’s staff were threatened and harassed in November this year (see UA 292/06, AMR 41/046/2006, 2 November 2006). Aline Castellanos Jurado is a leading member the Consorcio para el Diálogo Parlamentario y la Equidad, the Committee for Parliamentary Dialogue and Equality. The women’s lawyers are seeking a federal injunction (amparo) against the arrest warrants.
The Mexican authorities, particularly at state level, have used fabricated criminal charges and unfair trials to deter human rights defenders, social activists and others opposing abuses of power by state governments. Protests by teacher’s unions have often resulted in violent clashes as well as the occupation of public buildings and roads in Oaxaca City since June. Their central demand is the resignation of Oaxaca’s Governor, whom they accuse of being corrupt and repressive. Protests continued through November, which have led to scores of arrests and reports of ill-treatment, arrests continue.
Letter by Monique Pongracic-Speier sent on December 15, 2006 and May 9, 2007