Mexico: Update After Eighteen Days of the Prisoner Hunger Strike in Chiapas
Filed under: Incarceration, Indigenous, Southern Mexico
Filed under: Incarceration, Indigenous, Southern Mexico
Tuxtla Gutiérrez, Chiapas
Monday, April 1st, 2019
Eighteen days have passed since six of our compañeros, prisoners in struggle, decided to begin an indefinite hunger strike. Since then, seven more have joined the strike. Seven others have supported and struggled from inside the prisons, but their health conditions or isolation has prevented them from carrying out the strike. Thus, there are twenty compañeros in total who are struggling from inside different prisons in the Mexican state of Chiapas.
This strike is the result of much injustice and torture, horrible legal processes and too many years of arbitrary imprisonment. It is also the result of organization, of struggle and of dignity. It is the response to a situation of kidnapping, the scream of dignified rage and rebellion of our imprisoned compañeros. It is also our scream.
In these eighteen days of walking together, prisoners, ex-prisoners, families, friends and the Working Group No Estamos Todxs, we have suffered many abuses.
The pressure we were able to exert forced the government to open a space of dialogue with the families and human rights organizations. This space, more than attending to the demand in the struggle for the freedom of our compañeros, became a space of re-vicitimization, and of exhaustion for the families and all of those accompanying this process. From the first meeting, the officials assigned to the dialogue could only offer to read the files and refer them, again, to the court-appointed lawyers. These lawyers, speaking in generous terms, have carried out a nefarious defense at best…and that’s when they actually did their work. In the end, what they offered us is what they are obligated to do and have not done for years and years. That is not a gift. That is their obligation! And if that wasn’t enough, they lie, they refuse to recognize the torture that is documented by the FRAYBA Human Rights center in the thirteen cases, and they ignore us in a racist and classist manner.
We, those who organize from below, share the pain and rage. We came together to carry forward this dignified struggle for the immediate and unconditional freedom of our imprisoned compañeros. Maybe we don’t understand the words of the government officials, but that is not a reason for them to denigrate us. We are not going to continue our dialogue with the government that doesn’t give us anything. We are not going to fall into this exhausting game and of course we will not accept the judicial solution they have proposed to us. We totally reject this type of mediation and we demand a solution to the situation of the twenty compañeros in struggle, with competent people that have the capacity to give a solution, and who recognize the political character of the struggle of our imprisoned compañeros. They have been pushed into a situation where they already feel they have nothing to lose and it will be the responsibility of the government if the life or well being of the prisoners is put at risk.In addition, the government has not fulfilled their commitment to guarantee the minimal conditions necessary for our compañeros to carry out their hunger strike. This past Friday, March 29th, our compañeros, Marcelino Ruiz Gómez and Baldemar Gomez Hernández—on a hunger strike in CERSS No. 10 of Comitán—decided to sew their lips together. The following day, the warden along with ten prison guards threatened our two compañeros. They submitted them to different forms of physical and psychological torture, stripping them naked and covering them in cold water against their will. The compañeros denounced the acts and decided to stop undergoing medical checkups. They demand the dismissal of the warden of CERSS No. 10 of Comitán, David Arias Jiménez, and we support that decision. We do not only hold the warden responsible, but also the director of the prison, the officials at the dialogue table, the state government lead by governor Rutilio Escandón Cadenas and the federal government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
We also demand fulfillment of the petition of our family members and compañeros of CERSS No. 14 “El Amate”. They seek a transfer to CERSS No. 5 in San Cristóbal de las Casas, in order to be closer to their families. Right now, because of the great distance and economic cost involved, they cannot be with them in these important moments.
In spite of the lies, deception, and disrespect that we have suffered throughout this time, we, as well as the compañeros in struggle inside the prisons, will not be intimidated. We will not allow ourselves to be insulted, kidnapped, assaulted and our rights to be violated. We know of the difficulties and the suffering that the path of this struggle brings but hunger, weakness, fatigue and sadness…are more than compensated for with solidarity and dignity. We know well that on this path only will we achieve the justice and freedom that we seek.
We hold responsible the state and federal government for any new aggression or other forms of harassment that our family members, our imprisoned compañeros and us might suffer. We also hold responsible the federal and state government for any health repercussions that the hunger strike might cause our compañeros. We also demand that the right of our compañeros to strike be recognized and that all cases of torture suffered by our family members and compañeros are investigated.
We reiterate that we do not recognize the dialogue table or negotiation that they have organized. We demand a political solution for the freedom of our compañeros. This way out can only happen through the immediate and unconditional freedom of our twenty compañeros, prisoners in struggle.
Finally, we want to thank all of the expressions of solidarity we have received since March 15th, both from those who were able to attend the different actions we have carried out, as well as to those that have supported us from a distance, both in Mexico and in other parts of the world. We especially want to thank our imprisoned compañero in struggle, Miguel Peralta Betanzos, who carried out a day long fast in solidarity with our compañeros from the prison of Cuicatlán, Oaxaca. We also want to thank the compañeros from Zapatista Europe who protested in front of the Mexican embassy in Madrid. And to many other compañeras and compañeros.
IMMEDIATE AND UNCONDITIONAL FREEDOM TO THE PRISONERS IN STRUGGLE!
UNTIL WE ARE ALL FREE!
Family members, friends and compañerxs of the prisoners in struggle
Working Group No Estamos Todxs
Voices in Movement publishes translations and analysis – both contemporary and historical – to share strategy, solidarity and histories of resistance across imaginary divisions of nations and borders, drawing insight from struggles of below and to the left, where the heart is. They also author Revuelta Comunitaria, a semi-regular column on It's Going Down addressing social struggles and political repression in the territory of so-called Mexico.