I. Press Communique

Today, August 3, 1998, at the United Nations Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, at 14:30, five members of the CCIODH met with Mary Robinson, High Commissioner of the UN for Human Rights. The CCIODH delegation was made up of Jean Barth, Erika Hennequin and Anne Plattner of Switzerland, who had requested the interview, and Teresa Niubo and Ignacio Garcia Garcia of Catalunya (Spanish state).

The interview lasted 50 minutes, during which we presented the Commission's report with its conclusions and recommendations, the reasons for its creation, the composition of its members and the work it has carried out so far. We responded to Mary Robinson's questions and concerns.

Erika Hennequin (Vice-President of the Greens in Switzerland), recently returned from Chiapas, informed her of the seriousness of the latest occurrences, beginning with the events in El Bosque, in which the army and public security forces intervened in the dismantling of the Autonomous Municipality San Juan de la Libertad, resulting in the deaths of eight campesinos last June 10, the dramatic situation of the civil population, especially for the women and the war refugees. We suggested to her the necessity for the UN to make a report on the human rights situation in the conflict zone, theough a secretary, and we joined in the request that she personally make a visit to Chiapas, including to the refugee camps and to the political prisoners in the Cerro Hueco jail.

We presented the urgency of the situations of the 20,000 displaced by military and paramilitary violence, the necessity for maintaining a presence by national and international observers as a guarantor for the observation and safeguarding of human rights, as well as a denunciation of the Mexican government's rules regulating their presence.

We also delivered to her the Constitutional Statement of "Peace Without Borders," the organization of international observers expelled from Mexico, along with its goals and demands, and the list of the 368 persons deported, 165 of which have been expelled this year.

Mary Robinson asked that we keep her regularly informed, leaving a direct channel open between the Commission and the organization which she represents.

The interview was considered very cordial and positive on both sides.

We are sending you a copy of the letter delivered by hand to Ms. Mary Robinson by the Commission's delegation:

Ms. Mary Robinson,

One of the greatest difficulties in understanding the situation in Chiapas is its very complexity. The result of our report is an intention to cover it in its entire breadth and complexity, in order to present, to civil society and to institutions, first hand information which will allow the forming of opinions in order that they may act according to their abilities and responsibilities.

The impunity and the constant violations of human rights of the people, as well as the obstacles placed on their observation and safeguarding, and on the national and international observers, by the government, demonstrates the desire to eliminate witnesses and statements that would make them public and visible.

We understand that it is still possible to stop the war in Chiapas, through the actions of national and international civil society: it is an opportunity that we still have at our disposal, until the situation deteriorates so much that a preventative intervention would be impossible. The will and the means to achieve a just and dignified peace is the will that moves us. But we would not be guilty of exaggeration if we state that the current situation is worse that it was in February of 1998. An infinity of reports can be consulted on facts concerning the activity of paramilitary groups, concerning intervention by security forces in operations against the population. The slowness of justice in determining the events in Acteal and the rapidity with which they intervene, with extreme irregularities, even denounced by the CNDH itself, against the communities in resistance. The current outlook is very serious. The communities are experiencing a famine throughout the conflict zone, because of the combination of the drought, the fires and the pressures of the militarization which prevent the carrying out of the normal activities of daily life. The existence of almost 20,000 displaced by the violence, in a situation that attacks their most minimal basic rights. The fear and suffering of the indigenous, especially the women and infants, etc...

The Mexican government has secured a consensus between the governments and the international organizations, in which it guarantees itself as a supporter of human rights, while civil society calls this into question. The massive presence of national and international observers is proof of that. Their expulsions, as well as the new Mexican government regulations for securing an observer's visa, are an attempt to avoid the presence of awkward witnesses in Chiapas.

In spite of this outlook, it is obvious that the presence of observers will continue. We are delivering you a list of the people expelled during 1998, as well as the manifesto of the organization, "Peace Without Borders," created by those expelled themselves, as a denunciation of these arbitrary acts, and also presenting resources and defending the space open to civil society. We wish to express those feelings which are not in the reports, but which exist in those of us who aspire to defend humanity before any other interests. We wish to demonstrate our commitment to send you regular reports in which will be presented, not just our opinion, but the voices of the actors in the conflict, especially those voices which suffer its consequences.

We wish to tell you of our satisfaction with the fairness of your statements concerning the conflict. We know of the hope in the communities for any gesture which defends them in the face of impunity, and we know of the Mexican government's special sensitivity to any action or statement of "influence" concerning the conflict.

We add ours to all the other invitations you have received to visit the conflict zone, insisting that in that way you can make up your own mind, and if you do, do not miss the opportunity to visit the camps of the displaced, as well as the Cerro Hueco jail, since they are, perhaps, the two clearest symbols of the continuous violations of the peoples' rights, as well, also, of the indigenous population's resistance and will for a solution to the conflict.

As a Commission, we will continue to present our reports to all the bodies and organizations which wish to hear them (European Parliament, Central American Parliament, etc...), as one contribution more, among others, which will help end the impunity and open paths which will allow a just and dignified solution.

In Geneva, August 3, 1998.



To the attention of the High Commissoner of the UN for Human Rights Ms. Mary Robinson

On May 20, 1998, the International Organization of the Expelled was created, made up of human rights observers and activists who had been expelled by Mexico for providing support to the indigenous communities of Chiapas. This organization is made up of 160 persons from different countries (US, Spain, Belgium, Germany, Canada, Norway and Italy). Among our members are students, workers, priests, professionals...In addition, we have the support of other organizations concerned about the situation in Chiapas.

Peace Without Borders is the name with which we emphasize our peaceful and international character. Like thousands of people throughout the world, we have responded to the call of the Mexican communities and bodies, in order to provide humanitarian support and the presence of observers in the conflict zone. We demand the recognition of the right of these Mexican communities and organizations to associate with the international community, to resolve the crisis which they are experiencing. We further demand the right of the people to freedom of movement, as well as to spread and express their opinions without the limit of borders, as emerges from Articles 13 and 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

In the midst of globalization, we see corporations, banks and governments cross national borders without being questioned, while the people cannot do so. These global projects go against the wellbeing of the people and, many times, lead to more poverty and injustice for different peoples in the world, such as the indigenous in Chiapas and the immigrant workers in the US and Europe.

We are citizens of the world demanding a just and dignified peace without borders. We struggle for justice in each one of our countries and cities in the same way we do in Mexico. We believe that we all have the right and the duty to ensure world peace.

Our goals are:

Focus world attention on the worrisome state of human rights in Mexico.

Organize and support delegations of international observers and offer assistance for each case of expulsion.

Monitor the legal process which we are carrying out in Mexico, as well as in our countries, concerning the revocation of the deportation orders.

Denounce the government regulations concerning the presence of observers in Chiapas, given that they restrict the international rules, as various NGO's have denounced.

We respect the right of the Mexicans to control the destiny of their country, but we understand that the war in Chiapas is not simply a local conflict, but rather part of an international crisis.

Because of all the above-mentioned, we ask:

Allow the organization to maintain a direct and open channel in order to continue informing.

Denunciation of the impunity which expels and imprisons international and national observers.

The development of mechanisms for achieving guarantees for observation and the security of the observers.

We appreciate your attention in this matter.

For Peace Without Borders
C/de la Cera, 1 bis 08001 barcelona
Telephone: 34-93-4422101
Fax: 34-93-3290858
Email: ellokal@pangea.org, zap@cyborganic.net


Geneva, August 3, 1998

Col.lectiu de Solidaritat amb la Rebel.lio Zapatista
C/ de la Cera, 1 bis
08001 barcelona
telephone: 34-93-4422101 and 3290643
Fax: 34-93-3290858

Email: ellokal@pangea.org
NEW UPDATED PAGE: http://www.pangea.org/ellokal/chiapas

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