The Mexico Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights expressed concern on Sunday about alleged abuses committed against 93 students, including 72 women, from a rural teachers’ school in the southern state of Chiapas, who were detained Tuesday for participating in protests.
“The information we have received is worrying and it is essential that allegations of abuse are not ignored, but taken seriously and investigated diligently,” said Guillermo Fernández-Maldonado, representative of the office.
On May 18, students from the “Mactumactzá” Rural Normal School held a protest on a highway that connects the capital of Chiapas, Tuxtla Gutiérrez, with San Cristobal de las Casas. They demanded a face-to-face entrance exam to that school despite the pandemic situation because most of the applicants are indigenous people who do not have access to the Internet, explained the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center in a statement.
The normal schools are rural teachers’ schools where peasants and very poor people enter and they are usually in the sights of the authorities because they have a very combative tradition and often lead protests, roadblocks or taking over facilities that, on occasions, can lead to violent acts.
During the eviction of the protesters on Tuesday, 97 people were arrested, the 93 students and four villagers. Two of the villagers were teenagers and were released shortly after. But the other 95 people were brought before the judge who declared their detention legal.
The UN received allegations from witnesses, accompanying organizations and lawyers of those arrested about alleged arbitrary detentions, mistreatment, sexual violence, abuse of power, excessive use of force and other violations of their rights both in the prosecution facilities. of Chiapas as in the jail to which they were transferred called “El Amate”.
“It is especially important to ensure that women deprived of liberty are protected against any possible act of sexual violence or discrimination based on gender,” added Fernández-Maldonado.
For this reason, the United Nations office asked to guarantee due process, that people who speak indigenous languages have translators and that possible cases of abuse be investigated diligently and impartially.
On Sunday afternoon, hours after the United Nations call, the women began to leave the prison. As Ezequiel Gómez, spokesman for the Chiapas prosecutor’s office, explained to The Associated Press, the students obtained conditional freedom after agreeing not to participate in new demonstrations or protests and to go and sign in prison until the judge decides whether or not to start the process. with them. The same will happen with men next Tuesday.
The students are accused of “robbery with violence, damage, riot, attacks against peace, physical and patrimonial integrity of the State community and gang activity,” added the spokesman.
The worst act carried out against students from a normal school was in September 2014 in the southern state of Guerrero when students from the Normal Rural de Ayotzinapa took several buses in the town of Iguala to go to Mexico City for demonstrations and were attacked by police. premises that later disappeared 43 students in complicity with organized crime and with authorities at all levels of government.
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