Activists involved in the Mexico-Australia Solidarity Network staged an action at the steps of the Opera House today demanding the freedom of Mexican political prisoners incarcerated in Atenco and Oaxaca. The prisoners have been incarcerated since police staged para-military operations on demonstrations in these cities earlier this year. The Sydney activists defied laws against political protest at the Opera House, holding banners that said ‘We are all Atenco. We are all Oaxaca. Free the Political Prisoners’ and ‘Democracy is more than a vote’.
The repression in Atenco on May 3rd has sparked a new wave of resistance to the Mexican state. On this day, a demonstration of only 300 people in Atenco, defending an established market space for indigenous flower sellers, were met with around 3500 police, including about 15 helicopters. About 300 to 400 people were arrested in the 2 day battle that ensued; houses were systematically raided and people indiscriminately taken from their homes; 30 out of 47 women arrested were raped or sexually assaulted; 2 people were killed; and countless others were wounded. There are numerous reports of people being piled in the back of police utes in bloody heaps. There are still 26 people left in ‘The State of Mexico’ prison.
Over a month later on June 14th, a strike of around 50 000 teachers in Oaxaca was similarly met with severe state repression, with 3000 police deployed – some being dropped into the demonstration by American style troop carrying airplanes. Between 4 and 11 protestors were killed and around 100 were injured, with a large but unknown number incarcerated. There have been several more disappearances since June 14.
The teachers had set up camp in the city’s historic centre for about a month before being attacked. They were striking for better wages and conditions, but also about the ever-increasing number of disappearing and incarcerated activists and sympathisers.
It seems the repression is increasing in response to the Zapatistas’ ‘Other Campaign’. This campaign, initiated on the 1st of January 2006, seeks to unite the left in Mexico on an explicitly anti-capitalist basis, and to achieve its goals through bottom-up struggle. The demonstrations in Atenco and Oaxaca were part of this national campaign.
MASN aligns itself with the ‘Other Campaign’ and has stated that if the political prisoners in Atenco and Oaxaca are not released, they will take their protest to the Mexican Embassy in Canberra. The group has already experienced intimidation from the Australian Federal Police who have been surveilling their discussion on a private e-group list.
For anyone wishing to know more about MASN please contact: 0412 479 793, and for anyone wishing to help, please fax the Mexican Embassy on (02) 6273 1190 to demand justice and freedom for the people of Atenco and Oaxaca.
source: Mexico-Australia Solidarity Network