PBI Mexico: PBI expresses profound concern over defamation and surveillance committed against the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center within the context of their accompaniment of the families of the disappeared students from Ayotzinapa 

15 December, 2014

Credit: Reporte Indigo

On December 8, 2014, the digital newspaper Reporte Indigo published an article based on leaked information presumably from the Center for Investigation and National Security (CISEN) which links two members of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center with “subversive groups” from the state of Guerrero1. According to the article, CISEN has a file on Tlachinollan’s Director Abel Barrera and the Director of the Judicial Section, Vidulfo Rosales Sierra and considers them “radical and dangerous to the governability” of the country. The same article mentions several other civil society organizations from Guerrero which are allegedly surveilled and have files with CISEN, among them, the Organization of the Indigenous Me’Phaa People (OPIM), accompanied by PBI since 2005.

In the same context on December 10, 2014, the Secretary of the Marines (SEMAR), Vidal Francisco Soberón stated during a public interview that the organizations that accompany the family members of the disappeared ofin Ayotzinapa are manipulating them and seek benefits for themselves in order to reach their own objectives2.

On December 14, family members and students were allegedly attacked by five drunken federal police officers while preparing the “Light in the Darkness” concert. According to information received, on several occasions, the federal police arrived at the location where the family members and students were working and verbally assaulted them, pointed fire arms at them, threw rocks and other objects at them and sprayed them with tear gas. The police left a number of hours later, having caused injuries to a number of persons present3.

In November 2014, Tlachinollan, the Civil Society Network of Guerrero and the José María Morelos y Pavón Regional Human Rights Center were the target of public defamation by authorities from Guerrero. These three organizations had provided support to the families of the disappeared students from the “Raúl Isidro Burgos” teachers college at Ayotzinapa during the events of the 26 and 27 of September, 2014.4

PBI has accompanied the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center since 2003 due to the risk they face while carrying out their human rights work. It is important to note that lawyer Vidulfo Rosales Sierra was forced to temporarily leave the country in 2012 after receiving threats linked to his work with students from the same Ayotzinapa teachers college. Due to his extraordinary risk level, Rosales Sierra was awarded Provisional Protection Measures from the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. Diverse organizations and international experts have recognized the adverse conditions in which human rights defenders carry out their work in Mexico and the obstacles that they face5.

Considering this context, the worrying declarations about surveillance carried out by CISEN as well as the defamation by SEMAR and the acts of aggression conducted by the federal police, PBI expresses profound concern for the physical and psychological integrity of the members of Tlachinollan and especially lawyer Vidulfo Rosales Sierra and director Abel Barrera. PBI believes that this defamation and surveillance put human rights defenders from the previously mentioned organizations at increased risk and serve to obstruct their legitimate work.

PBI demands that federal and state authorities take all necessary measures to ensure the physical and psychological security of Abel Barrera, Vidulfo Rosales Sierra and other members of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center as well as the OPIM, Civil Society Network of Guerrero and the José María Morelos y Pavón Regional Human Rights Center. PBI also insists that the competent authorities guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the family members of the disappeared students, thus permitting them to continue with their search for justice and fight against impunity.

1 Reporte Indigo “Ficha CISEN a abogado de Normalistas “ 8 December 2014www.reporteindigo.com/reporte/mexico/ficha-cisen-abogado-de-normalistas

2 El Universal: “Padres de Normalistas están siendo manipulados: SEMAR” 10 December 2014 www.eluniversal.com.mx/nacion-mexico/2014/normalistas-desaparecidos-guerrero-elecciones-iguala-ayotzinapa-semar-vidal-francisco-soberon-1060913.html

3 Tlachinollan Comunicado 14 December 2014:www.tlachinollan.org/comunicado-agrede-policia-federal-estudiantes-y-familiares-de-desaparecidos-de-ayotzinapa-durante-la-preparacion-de-jornada-cultural/

4 Fundar: fundar.org.mx/aumentan-niveles-de-riesgo-declaraciones-de-gobernador-interino-de-guerrero-contra-defensores-de-derechos-humanos-del-estado/

5 Amnesty International:www.amnesty.org/es/library/asset/AMR01/003/2014/es/b9204347-78cc-4149-8e9e-31a6c2422eee/amr010032014es.pdf and Civil Observation Mission:www.pbi-mexico.org/los-proyectos/pbi-mexico/noticias/news/