Bety Cariño, during a conference in Dublin, Ireland, organised by the Latin American Solidarity Centre (April 2009)
Jyri Jaakkola, a human rights observer with the Finnish civil rights group Uusi Tuuli (New Wind), and Beatriz Carino Trujillo, the Mexican director of the rights group CACTUS, were killed when gunmen attacked a convoy of some 30 rights workers on Tuesday. The convoy was trying to deliver food and supplies to San Juan Copala in Oaxaca, Mexico.
Reuters reports this morning that, “Finland has demanded that Mexico carry out a full investigation into the shooting death of a Finnish human rights activist this week, the Nordic country said on Friday.”
Al Jazeera reported yesterday that, “The United Nations’ Human Rights Commissioner’s Office in Mexico has expressed concern about the attack and urged authorities to find the (four) missing people. The office called for an investigation and said it was particularly concerned by the fact there were human rights workers and journalists in the caravan.”
Among the four missing are Contralinea magazine reporter Erika Ramirez and photographer David Cilia.
VOCAL, the human rights group involved in organizing the convoy, released a statement on Wednesday stating that: “Regrettably, as information is coming in, we know that two comrades lost their lives in this paramilitary attack. This armed attack is a product of the conditions of institutional violence and impunity that paramilitary groups enjoy in this region. This attack occurred in the context of the isolation and state of siege that the municipality of San Juan Copala lives under, where since January the children have not had classes, where the community does not have electricity, water, doctors, and lives under permanent paramilitary harassment as a result of the blockade they have established there.”
Al Jazeera further explains that, “San Juan Copala is populated by members of the Trique indigenous people, and declared itself autonomous from the Oaxaca state government in 2007 in protest at what it says is a policy of discrimination and harassment against its people. The declaration of autonomy has been dismissed by authorities, and the municipality has been subjected to a blockade by local paramilitaries loyal to the state government. The latest attack is being blamed on a local paramilitary group known as Ubisort, which had warned earlier this week that it would prevent the convoy from reaching its destination.”
To respond to the action alert issued by Red Nacional de Organismos de Derechos Humanos which calls for immediate intervention by national and state authorities to ensure the safe return of the four that are still missing, please go to http://www.redtdt.org.mx/d_acciones/d_visual.php?id_accion=89.
Rick Arnold of Common Frontiers also notes that Beatriz ‘Bety’ Carino Trujillo spoke at a demonstration in front of the Canadian embassy in Mexico City on December 3 following the November 27 murder of Mariano Abarca, an activist opposed to the Canadian mining company Blackfire’s activities in Chiapas, including the contamination of local rivers. To see her speech, please go to www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWPkLcoVoaI.
The Al Jazeera report is at http://english.aljazeera.net/news/americas/2010/04/201042812413686521.html. A short Edmonton Journal report can be read at http://www.edmontonjournal.com/news/workers+killed+food+convoy/2964378/story.html.
We have received word that those who were missing after the attack in Oaxaca are now safe, though one is wounded. While this is good news, the demand still remains for a full investigation into this incident and the killings of Jyri Jaakkola and Beatriz Carino Trujillo.
For a Democracy Now! interview, please go to http://www.democracynow.org/2010/4/30/paramilitaries_kill_two_human_rights_activists.