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Mexican Activists Demand State Accountability For Increasing Numbers of Disappeared

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“Alive They Took Them, Alive We Want Them” Mexico rally demand calls for end to forced disappearances

ANDALUSIA KNOLL, TRNN PRODUCER: The last week of May 2013 marked the sixth anniversary of the disappearance of Edmundo Reyes Amaya and Gabriel Alberto Cruz Sánchez in the Mexican state of Oaxaca. These two men were alleged to be members of the guerilla group EPR, which stands for the Popular Revolutionary Army, and were last seen detained by military forces. Civil associations and activist organizations united to organize a week of action to demand clarity around this case and thousands of others, similar situations, where people are disappeared for both political and nonpolitical reasons.

On May 30, several thousand people marched from the Mexican offices of interior affairs to the central plaza of Mexico City.

Nadín Reyes Maldonado is the daughter of Edmundo Reyes and is a founding member of the group Until We Find Them. She spoke out at a protest in in the plaza about the history of forced disappearances that started with the dirty war that the Mexican Government launched against leftist student and guerrilla movements in the 1960s and 70s.

NADÍN REYES MALDONADO, UNTIL WE FIND THEM (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): These are only some of the thousands of the faces of the disappeared that exist in our country. We say as a people that we can’t be indifferent. Wee see that there is a necessity to continue to take to the streets to protest and show the names and faces of our family members. It is these faces and names that the Mexican government wants to delete. Many of them don’t appear in the “official” statistics.

KNOLL: Héctor Cerezo is a member of the Comité Cerezo and former political prisoner. The Comité Cerezo helped organize a people’s permanent tribunal the last week of May 2013 to document cases of forced disappearances and extrajudicial executions in Mexico.

HÉCTOR CEREZO, COMITÉ CEREZO (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The severity of this situation in Mexico concerning human rights is so grave that international judges one year ago in the pre-audience for the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal in Ciudad Juarez, when they listened to the testimonies of the victims, they suggested that the term “state terrorism” be used, that the level of forced disappearances and extrajudicial killings is showing that there exists a systematic planned state policy to generate terror in the population for different reasons.

KNOLL: The Mexican government states that they are working diligently on this issue and just created a new investigative unit to search for missing persons. Mexican Attorney General Jesús Murillo Karam said family members of the disapeared have had to confront too much government bureaucracy on top of their suffering.

JESÚS MURILLO KARAM, MEXICAN ATTORNEY GENERAL (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We want to destroy the bureaucratic maze.

KNOLL: Human Rights defenders say that this is a step in the right direction and that it will also be bolstered by the recent passage of a victim’s law allowing federal authorities more power in investigating cases.

Isabel Rosales travelled with a delegation from Guerrero to present cases of disappearances from their state at the People’s Permanent Tribunal.

ISABEL ROSALES, COMMITTEE OF THE DISAPPEARED (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We have had dialogs with the state government. We have met with our governor, who has received us by diminishing and criminalizing our concerns. We have seen that we cannot resolve anything with the state government, and that is why we have brought the cases to the federal level.

KNOLL: The majority of disappearances occur outside Mexico City, but recently there have been more cases within the capital. Teodulfo Torres has been missing for two months. He is a longtime activist aligned with the Zapatista movement and was a witness to a police launched projectile that severely injured protestor Francisco Kuykendall during the recent presidential inaugaration. Adrian, who didn’t want to give his last name for security reasons, said they presented this case at the Tribunal.

ADRIAN, NAT. CAMPAIGN AGAINST DISAPPEARANCES (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): Why do we say it could be a forced disappearance? Forced disappearances have certain characteristics, which are that they are carried out by the authorities or with the complicity of the authorities. In this case, the case of Teodulfo, the reason: he is the principal witness to the violence against Kuykendall. The only entity who would be interested in his disappearance would be the state.

KNOLL: As activists and family members prepared to launch the week of action, a horrific event occurred at an after-hour club right in a central tourist zone in Mexico City. Twelve young people were abducted, allegedly by armed men, in broad daylight. The mothers of these disappeared youth participated in the protest, including Leticia Ponce.

LETICIA PONCE, MOTHER OF JERZY ESLI ORTÍZ PONCE (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): I am here because there was a kidnapping–I don’t really know–or an abduction of 12 people who were taken from a nightclub in the Zona Rosa that is called Heaven, and one of thsoe people who were taken is my son. He is sixteen years old. That is why I’m here.

KNOLL: In the coming months, human rights defenders and family members of the disappeared will see how this new unit for missing people and the victim’s law function in helping them understand what has happened to their missing loved ones.

Andalusia Knoll, The Real News Network, Mexico City.

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DISCLAIMER: Please note that transcripts for The Real News Network are typed from a recording of the program. TRNN cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.