Filed under: Action, Immigration, Southern Mexico
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Assembly urges the Mexican authorities to assist migrant communities in matters of food, health, hygiene and housing.
More than three thousand migrants from Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Conaky, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, Senegal and Sierra Leone Togo created the first Assembly of African and African Migrants in Tapachula, Chiapas, to demand respect for their rights and that the Mexican authorities cease violence and repression against migrant communities.
The members of the assembly explained that they were forced to leave their countries of origin for either political, ideological, or religious persecution, or for belonging to a particular social group, as well as denouncing that the majority were detained at the 21st Century station and never had translators to read the immigration documents.
The assembly urged the Mexican authorities to assist migrant communities in matters of food, health, hygiene and housing.
Following is the communiqué of the assembly and the organizations that accompany it:
August 29, 2019
THE AFRICAN POPULATION IN TAPACHULA DEMAND RESPECT FOR OUR DIGNITY AND OUR RIGHTS
• The population of people of African origin, forced to remain in Tapachula, are suffering an unbearable humanitarian situation regarding food, housing, health and hygiene; as well as of systematic discrimination by the immigration authorities.
• We are displaced people forced into fleeing from our countries to safeguard our lives and welcome international protection in the United States, Canada or at least, in Mexico, but so far, we have not received a clear response from the Mexican government.
• We demand that the state security forces cease their violence and stop repressing our legitimate protest, and that the immigration authorities resolve our situation as soon as possible and stop their hostility toward us.
Who are we?
The Assembly of African and African Migrants in Tapachula represents a group of around 3,000 people, girls, boys, men, women and families from various countries in Africa: Angola, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea Conakry, Liberia, Mali, Mauritania, Central African Republic, Republic Democratic Republic of Congo, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sierra Leone and Togo. Most of us have technical, professional and some postgraduate studies.
We all had to flee and leave our countries of origin as the only possible way to survive. We are therefore forcibly displaced people with that need international.
We have been in Mexican territory for months, and our community has pregnant women, babies, girls and boys, people with disabilities and various conditions.
Since we left our countries, for us life has been a state of permanent escape. We feel despair hopelessness, fear, demoralization, loneliness and abandonment
Why did we have to leave our countries?
We suffer political persecution because of our diverse political ideas, identities sociocultural and religious preference. This situation threatens our life and our integrity. For that reason we have left everything.
Our countries of origin, impoverished and subordinate to Western powers, despite or perhaps because of our natural wealth, are plagued by social inequality, violence and authoritarianism. We can provide many tragic examples. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo there are no civil liberties and opponents of the regime are persecuted and killed.
In Cameroon, decolonization was followed by a scenario of division and subjugation, where the English speaking activists are persecuted and subjected to arbitrary detention, torture and murder. The south of the country suffers from a de facto civil war in which thousands of people have died.
Congo Brazzaville suffers from a military dictatorship of almost 40 years, poverty and ethnic conflicts. The civil war has resulted in the imprisonment and torture of thousands of opponents.
The Central African Republic has been going through a religious war between Muslims and Christians since 1998, in which extremist groups are killing people with machetes. This war has been promoted and sustained by the dictatorship, which benefits from the conflict. As a direct consequence of socio-political instability, poverty is extreme.
In short, each ex-colony has had its dictator put in place by the colonizing countries, as a way of keeping power and continuing the looting of wealth. Some presidents who opposed this process, such as Thomas Sankara, were killed to return to the dictatorial regime back to power again.
What have we suffered to reach Mexico?
In order to reach Mexico we have crossed at least eight countries with their borders and two months on the road. We have taken many risks, the first being the trip itself. We have crossed the ocean to reach this continent. We have walked thousands of kilometers.
The hardest part was the weeks spent in the Darién jungle, between Colombia and Panama. We have climbed mountains and valleys. We have crossed rivers with strong currents. We’ve slept in the mud, been hungry and drank rainwater to survive. We have seen the dead bodies of migrant brothers along the way, dead of exhaustion, or drowned in the rivers. The jungle is populated by wild animals, snakes and poisonous insects. In that territory there are also criminals who assault people, who rape girls and women, killing those who try to resist. Many of us have lost all of our belongings, including our official documents.
We have gone through extremely dangerous cities and towns. We had to hide. We’ve suffered extortion and threats by agents of the authorities in Panama, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Mexico.
What is the situation we suffer in Tapachula?
Most of us were detained at the 21st Century Migration Station. At no time have we had translations into our languages. They have made us sign documents that we did not understand. They gave us a document talking about our alleged statelessness and they tricked us by telling us that with that document we could travel without being stopped. Those of us who tried, were again arrested and returned to Tapachula They told us that we could get a Visitor Card for Humanitarian Reasons, but in the end we were denied.
Many of us took the documents to the Immigration office and after weeks of waiting, our amnesty has been rejected, due to alleged errors in the writing of our names. Errors that were made by the INM officials themselves and for which we pay the consequences.
They have tricked us. They deny us the possibility of leaving Tapachula, where we feel trapped and desperate, and are suffering constant acts of racism and hostility by the immigration officials.
What this means for us now is suffering and misery. Our situation is deplorable and a violation of our human rights. In the past weeks we have run out of all resources and ways of subsistence. Hundreds of families are on the streets, passing the nights and rains outdoors. We have nothing to eat, many people are getting sick, especially the children and pregnant women. If we continue in this situation, many of us will die here.
When we take to the streets to demand solutions and rights, we suffer more repression by agents of the National Guard and Municipal Police, we are treated violently while authorities won’t listen to us or receive us. They only treat us with contempt, indifference and hostility. On Tuesday, August 27, the situation became much more violent, not only against those who were protesting outside the Immigration office demanding a response from immigration authorities, but they also beat journalists covering the demonstration.
Faced with this, the actions of state authorities have been repression and direct physical aggression, including the use of tear gas against people and hitting us with stones. A Cameroonian brother that a federal police officer hit in the head with a stone, lost consciousness and had to be rushed to the hospital with heavy bleeding from his head.
What rights do we claim?
Under these circumstances, the Assembly of African and African Migrants in Tapachula, we demand:
• For those of us who need to continue our way north, in search of protection in States United or Canada, that the Mexican government immediately give us Visitor Cards for Humanitarian Reasons, so that we can move as soon as possible from Tapachula.
• For those who need of international protection in Mexico, that can immediately start the procedure for refuge status.
• For the entire affected population, we require urgent humanitarian assistance in matters of food, housing, health and hygiene, to prevent the deterioration of our physical and mental health, and the loss of life
• Finally, we demand that the security forces guarantee no more reprisals and no more use of violence against us for demanding our rights and expressing our collective demands.
Asamblea de Migrantes Africanos y Africanas en Tapachula