Friday, November 28, 2014

México: Eleven Protesters Being Unfairly Held, Beaten, According to Amnesty International

According to The Latin American Tribune, eleven detainees who were arrested after a large-scale protest over the disappearance of 43 teacher trainees in southern México are being “unfairly held” and should be released immediately unless further evidence is presented, London-based human rights group Amnesty International (AI) said Thursday (November 27).

The individuals who were detained earlier this month remain in custody including Chilean national Lawrence Maxwell and three women.

The detainees, who have yet to be charged with criminal association, mutiny and attempted homicide of a police officer based only on the testimony of the five police officers who arrested them, are being held at two remote high-security prisons and treated as “high-value criminals,” AI said, noting that a hearing on their detention will occur on Saturday (November 29).

Referring to the basis for their continued detention, AI said that “unless sufficient evidence is presented to support the charges, the protesters must be released.”

“The evidence against the 11 protesters is so thin that it is incredibly hard to understand why they are still in detention, let alone in high-security facilities and treated as ‘high value criminals,’” Erika Guevara Rosas, AI’s Amerícas director, was quoted as saying.

“Such acts raise the question of whether there is a deliberate attempt to discourage legitimate protests,” she added.

COMMENT: For those who dispute that prisoners in México under detention are summarily beaten and physically and emotionally abused, those prisoners with access to attorneys report that they were police threatened while in custody; their lawyers say the demonstrators have bruises and scars around their eyes and on their arms.

The detainees are part of a group of 30 people arrested on November 20 for their alleged role in violent protests.

Nationwide demonstrations have been held in México since 43 students at a teacher-training facility in the town of Ayotzinapa, Guerrero state, went missing on the night of September 26 in the nearby town of Iguala.

Police officers from Iguala and the neighboring town of Cocula detained those 43 students that night and handed them over to the Guerreros Unidos gang, which killed them and burned the bodies to eliminate all traces of the victims, Mexican authorities say, citing statements by suspects in the case.

Corrupt municipal police targeted the students, according to some media accounts, after they had seized several buses for use in protests against education reform.

“Serious allegations of human rights violations and collusion between local authorities and criminals had been made before but federal and state authorities decided to take no action,” AI said, referring to the situation in Iguala prior to the events of late September.

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