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May 28, 20

Prisoner Hunger Strike in Chiapas Enters Second Week

Update on the prisoner hunger strike taking place in two different prisons in Chiapas as it enters its second week.

 

Today, May 28, marks the beginning of the second week of a coordinated hunger strike being carried out by prisoners in struggle in two different prisons in Chiapas: CERSS No. 5 and CERSS No. 10. A week ago, on may 21, seven prisoners in CERSS No. 5 in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, and one prisoner in CERSS No. 10 in Comitán de Dominguez, Chiapas, launched a hunger strike which they plan to maintain until June 5. The hunger strikers are demanding their immediate release due to irregularities in their legal cases, torture used by the authorities to extract testimonies of guilt, as well as the systemic anti-Indigenous racism inherent to the Mexican legal system. They are also demanding quality healthcare for all prisoners and an immediate response inside the prisons to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In CERSS No. 5, the strike was organized by two Indigenous prison organizing groups, La Voz Verdadera del Amate and La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia. In CERSS No. 10, the organization, Vineketik en Resistencia, is participating in the strike. These three Indigenous organizations have been engaged in ongoing prison organizing in the last couple years, including carrying out hunger strikes and fasts, installing protest encampments inside their respective prisons, as well as continually denouncing abuse by prison authorities and state officials.

In CERSS No. 5, four other prisoners joined the hunger strike demanding a review of their legal files which are also plagued with irregularities. The coordinated strike, along with the participation of previously unorganized prisoners, is an exciting development of prisoner organization, solidarity, mutual aid and struggle in the prisons of Chiapas during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The names of the participating prisoners and organizations are as follows:

CERSS No. 5

Organization: La Voz Verdadera del Amate

Germán López Montejo

Abraham López Montejo.

Organization: La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia

Adrián Gómez Jimenez.

Prisoners protesting irregularities in their legal files:

Osmar Alberto Espinales Rodríguez

Pedro Trinidad Cano Sánchez

Cristóbal Robles Robles

Alexander Hernándes Zalasa

CERSS No. 5

Organization: Vineketik en Resistencia

Marcelino Ruiz Gómez

Below we reproduce various translated communiques from the prisoners and their family members from over the last few days of the hunger strike. For more information on the strike, see the original declarations here and here. For an earlier update on the strike go here.

Statement from Prisoners in Struggle in CERSS No. 5 San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas. May 23, 2020 (Hunger Strike Day #3)

 

To the Public

To the Networks of Resistance and Rebellion

To the National Indigenous Congress

To the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

To the Network Against Repression and for Solidarity

To the Mass and Alternative Media

To the Human Rights Defenders and Non-Governmental Organizations

To the Independent Organizations

To the People of Mexico and the World

We are Indigenous prisoners, together with other prisons who are unjustly imprisoned by the public prosecutor´s office, who have also joined our struggle. The voice that never quiets. We want to inform the public of what the conditions are like here in CERSS No. 5, the injustices we face and the difficult situation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In CERSS No. 5, the situation is becoming more and more tense after the contagion of eight inmates. The Subsecretary of Citizen Security and Protection, through the Subsecretary for the Execution of Criminal Sanctions and Security Measures has said that we are better off here and that we do not run the risk of contracting COVID-19. The state government has reinforced this point.

They also claim that they have fumigated the prison to eradicate pests and maintain the different areas in sanitary conditions. They came to fumigate the different areas, but that does not guarantee that we as inmates will go to and from these areas healthy and free of COVID-19. The conditions here in CERSS No. 5 are not good. We run the risk of being infected with the coronavirus as there are already cases here in this prison.

We also want to announce that the telephone in the nurse’s area isn’t working. Thus, we do not have a way to communicate with our families. We have seen and heard on the radio that there is a way in which we can communicate from here in CERSS No. 5 via video calls. Yet on Thursday May 21, they denied us that option. They are trying to stop us from communicating with our families.

We want to bring this information to the public. They are treating us poorly and the conditions here in the prison are not good. By means of this communique, we demand that the director of this prison, Jose Javier Sánchez Rios, fix the telephone so we can talk to our families.

We also demand medicine for inmates. More so now than ever, because of the COVID-19 situation. We fear for our lives. From the government, we demand that they give us our freedom. While in other states they are releasing prisoners who only have a little time left of their sentence, or who have irregularities in their legal files, here in the state of Chiapas there is none of that. There is so much injustice.

We hold the government of the state responsible for our deaths in the case that we die. There has already been a prison guard from this prison who has died and there are other people infected.

Lastly, we invite the independent state and national organizations, along with the state, national and international human rights defenders, to continue demanding true justice and freedom for political prisoners, prisoners of conscious and prisoners in struggle.

Uniting the voices and forces of the Mexican people, true justice will triumph.

From CERSS No. 5, we send a combative salute to those that struggle from below and to the left, political prisoners, prisoners of conscious and prisoners in struggle.

Respectfully,

Adrián Gómez Jiménez of La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia

Abraham López Montejo and Germán López Montejo of La Voz Verdadera del Amate

Prisoners due to the injustices of the public prosecutor’s office:

Osman Alberto Espinales Rodrígez

Pedro Trinidad Cano Sánchez

Cristóbal Robles Robles

Alexander Hernández Zalasar

Statement from Prisoners in Struggle in CERSS No. 5 in San Cristóbal de las Casas. May 24, 2020 (Hunger Strike Day #4)

 

To the Public

To the Networks of Resistance and Rebellion

To the National Indigenous Congress

To the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

To the National and International Sixth

To the Network Against Repression and for Solidarity

To the Mass and Alternative Media

To the Human Rights Defenders and Non-Governmental Organizations

To the Indigenous People of Mexico and the World

Companerxs, brothers and sisters, receive a combative salute from the organizations in resistance: La Voz Verdadera del Amate and La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia. Both organizations are adherents of the Sixth Declaration of the Lacandon Jungle of the Zapatista Army of National Liberation, EZLN.

We are currently imprisoned in CERSS No. 5 in San Cristóbal de las Casas, Chiapas, Mexico. With this communique, we raise our voices from our space of struggle, in an indefinite protest encampment and on hunger strike demanding justice, immediate freedom, medical attention and medicine for the prisoners.

Unfortunately, this prison does not provide us with such things. We want to make public that the state and prison authorities have not provided the necessary means to prevent the spread of COVID-19. It is a pure lie what was broadcasted on the radio, saying that they have provided us with the necessary things to prevent COVID-19. They haven’t given us anything.

Today, May 24, 2020, our networks of support provided us with the essentials in preventing COVID-19 because the prison has abandoned us. There is complete negligence here.

Thanks to our support networks, we were provided with face masks, liquid soap to disinfect our spaces, clorox, antibacterial gel, gloves and powdered soap. These are the necessary things we need to combat and prevent the contagion of COVID-19—the virus that is relentlessly attacking the entire world.

We emphasize that the virus has arrived to this prison and the authorities have not given us anything to combat it.

For this, we raise our voice to defend our rights, to save our lives. We emphasize that there are eight inmates who are confirmed to be infected with COVID-19 in this prison. The unjust authorities want to see us here in confinement while our families suffer outside of these walls. From the government of the Fourth Transformation, there is no justice. Those who are struggling from below and to the left, they have to humiliate us and trample on our rights as human beings.

On the other hand, we invite the state, national and international independent organizations, and the state, national and international human rights defenders to continue demanding that the rights of inmates not be violated nor marginalized, demanding freedom for political prisoners, prisoners of conscious and prisoners in struggle.

Uniting the voices and forces of prisoners and the Mexican people, true justice will triumph.

From CERSS No. 5 in San Cristóbal de las Casas, the organizations again send our combative salute to the companerxs, communities and people of Mexico and the world, that are engaged in the struggle and resistance against carceral systems and against the bad governments of the world.

Respectfully,

Adrián Gómez Jiménez of La Voz de Indígenas en Resistencia

Abraham López Montejo and Germán López Montejo of La Voz Verdadera del Amate

Those unjustly imprisoned by the Public Prosecutor’s Office:

Osman Alberto Espinales Rodrígez

Pedro Trinidad Cano Sánchez

Cristóbal Robles Robles

Alexander Hernández Zalasar

Statement from Family Members of Prisoners in Struggle. May 25, 2020 (Hunger Strike Day #5)

 

To the Zapatista Army of National Liberation

To the National and International Civil Society

To the National and International Sixth

To the National Indigenous Congress

To the Believers

To the People of Mexico and the World

Compañerxs, I send you a fraternal greeting. Five days ago, our compañeros decided to return to a hunger strike to demand their freedom. Since March 15, 2019, they have been struggling from inside prison so that their voices are heard and so that action is taken by the government to free our compañeros. They were imprisoned with false evidence taken under conditions of torture, forcing them to declare themselves guilty of crimes they didn’t commit. They have lost years of their lives without being by the side of their loved ones: mother, wife, brothers and sisters, children. For all these years, the government hasn’t cared one bit about their condition just because they are indigenous. During all this this time, we have not obtained more than false promises from the government. We are tired of being victims of contempt and repression.

Our struggle is a just one. We will not give up. We will continue struggling until the truth of their innocence comes to light. We will not give up until they recuperate their lives, their dreams and all that was taken. from them.

For us family members, this is very painful. Knowing every day that passes, is another day of their incarceration, another day without food where their only sustenance is water and honey.

We know that all this must happen in order to achieve justice. We were witnesses to the previous hunger strike. We have seen the toll taken on each one of our compañeros. The psychological, emotional and physical consequences are clear.

On the other hand, we are concerned about the COVID-19 situation. We want our family members to leave prison on their own feet and not in a critical state of health. This can cause irreversible damage to their bodies. Governor Rutilio Escandón Cadenas has demonstrated to us that their lives are not worth anything, yet we know everything is in his hands. We hold him responsible for any harm caused to our compañeros during the course of this action.

In the case of my husband, Marcelino Ruiz Gómez, he does not even have a face mask, antibacterial gel or alcohol. These are things completely necessary to protect him. What more can we wait for from this government? Of course, they search for their own well-being and that of their loved ones. They turn a blind eye to everything that happens around them. In general, the conditions of healthcare in which our compañeros find themselves are severe. They combat COVID-19 as it comes. These are the injustices which our imprisoned family members are living through. The same for the four compañeros who joined the hunger strike in CERSS No. 5 who are also totally vulnerable to COVID-19. Compañeros, we are with you.

We want to thank all of the organizations that have supported us and spread information about the struggle. To all of the good-hearted people that have accompanied us in this dignified and just struggle, like the working group No Estamos Todxs and the Frayba Human Rights Organization, who have supported us at all times.

We will not tire until we are all free.

Immediate freedom for the prisoners in struggle!

Sincerely,

Karla Guadalupe Meza Méndez

 

 

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