Today 7th March members of Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group set up a stall and giant banner in the centre of Scotland’s capital and distributed hundreds of leaflets in solidarity with the comrades of San Sebastian Bachajon.
Demanding the release of the prisoners from San Sebastian Bachajon and all political prisoners, the protesters denounced the attacks on communities such as San Sebastian Bachajon who are resisting attempts by the state and big business to take over their land for money-making projects, like those envisaged in the Tourist Plan for Chiapas.
The leaflets also gave contact details for the Mexican Ambassador to the UK, with a weblink to a sample letter to the Ambassador urging that the Mexican authorities release the prisoners from San Sebastian Bachajon.
Much attention was attracted by a giant banner proclaiming:
Sun Fun … Bloomin nice beaches
Torture … Death Squads….Human Rights Breaches”.
The banner was draped over the famous Duke of Wellington statue in Princes Street, the city’s main thoroughfare for over two hours, and was accompanied by placards and posters proclaiming SOLIDARITY WITH THE OTHER CAMPAIGN IN SAN SEBASTIAN BACHAJON and NO TO REPRESSION IN CHIAPAS.
A member of Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group stated: “The ideals of The Other Campaign are to bring together struggles for communal control of resources all over the planet. As our leaflet says: “If you go for one of us you go for all of us!”
Stop the Repression in Indigenous Communities
IN CHIAPAS, MEXICO, the last 2 years has seen a new phase of attacks against self-organised indigenous communities, such as the Zapatistas and those who adhere to the Zapatista-initiated Other Campaign. These attacks, primarily made by state-sponsored paramilitaries, have been linked by the Fray Bartolomé Human Rights Centre, to the Tourist Plan for Chiapas, a corporate tourism project. A plan that will not benefit local communities. The Mexican government will have to evict the indigenous communities from the land that is located in the project areas, because they will never sell. The government’s strategy is to use paramilitary groups to take over this land and then buy it from these groups. The Zapatistas have successfully stopped paramilitary land grabs near the Bolon Ajaw waterfalls and the El Salvador Spa Resort near Agua Clara. Paramilitary attacks have also hampered the development of autonomous education and health services by Zapatista communities, but these attacks have also been successfully resisted.
Agua Azul Waterfalls
Adherents of The Other Campaign from San Sebastián Bachajón control the toll booth at the entrance to the Agua Azul Waterfalls. Attempts to remove them from there have been constant, and there have been threats against civilians of this community made by local police and paramilitaries on a daily basis. 2 years ago the payment booth was dismantled through an operation involving state and federal police. Despite false criminal charges and forced confessions not in their own indigenous language, the local community was able to peacefuly regain control of the toll booth through a consultation process in community assemblies. A roadblock and a national and international solidarity campaign also helped. In San Sebastian Bachajón, on the 2nd and 3rd of February, 117 people were again arrested on false charges. 10 remain in prison, including a minor and a person with mental disabilities. The adherents from Bachajón are political prisoners, demanding respect for their historical and collective rights as indigenous peoples.
The corporate tourist plan includes a £149 million road between the popular tourist centres San Cristobal De Las Casas and Palenque. The planned superhighway will take over the communal land of the Mitzitón community, also adherents to the Other Campaign. The local government has used the alleged paramilitary group “Army of God” to harass the community and impose the road resulting in the death of Aurelio Díaz Hernández two years ago. Roadblocks and another national and international solidarity campaign has also stopped this part of the corporate tourist plan. However on the 13th February the aggressors returned to attack the adherents, resulting in two of the adherents being kidnapped and severely beaten. Army of God members opened fire on the community and Carmen Jiménez Heredia was hit by a bullet and hospitalized in a critical condition.
Given the escalating level of violence by the Mexican state and paramilitary groups, it is clear that there is an offensive against the communities who struggle for a Mexico with justice for all and who oppose the implementation of privatisation projects. So we call to everyone whose heart is below and to the left to demonstrate their solidarity. International pressure combined with community direct action in Chiapas has stopped the repression in the past. Help us do this again. Email the Mexican Ambassador to the UK, email@example.com More information and a model protest letter can be found HERE.:
Stop the aggression! Stop the harassment of communities!
Freedom for political prisoners! If you go for one of us you go for all of us!
Edinburgh Chiapas Solidarity Group: NEXT MEETING – 7.30pm Thursday 24th March, at ‘ACE’