Urgent Action: Fear of torture or ill-treatment / incommunicado detention

Please send appeals immediately

28 November 2006
UA 322/06

Mexico: At least 149 people in detention

Following a violent confrontation between supporters of the Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca (Asamblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca, APPO) and the Federal Preventive Police (Policia Federal Preventiva, PFP) in the centre of Oaxaca on 25 November, at least 149 people have been detained. Amnesty International believes that they may be at risk of torture or ill-treatment while in custody.

The violence followed a demonstration organized by APPO supporters, to protest against the presence of PFP in the city and to call for the resignation of the Governor of Oaxaca. During the clashes with the police, dozens of people were reportedly injured by stones and intoxicated by teargas. There were also several reports that some people had been shot and wounded. Dozens of cars and buses and several public buildings, including the State Superior Court (Tribunal Superior de Justicia) and a theatre, were set on fire. According to reports, groups of armed men wearing balaclavas, believed to be state police, shot at protesters and buildings and arrested scores of people, several of whom reportedly had no involvement in the demonstrations.

By the end of the day, the authorities published the names of 149 people being held in two state prisons of Tlacolula and Miahuatlan, both outside the city of Oaxaca. All detainees have reportedly been denied access to family and independent legal counsel (suspects are generally forced to rely on inadequate public defenders provided by the authorities). There are also reports that on 27 November, 141 detainees were transferred to a prison in the remote state of Nayarit. Families and human rights organizations have not been informed of the charges faced by those in detention.


An Amnesty International delegation recently visited the city of Oaxaca and interviewed scores of victims of human rights violations committed during the ongoing crisis in Oaxaca. The organization documented the repeated violations committed by unidentified armed groups, believed to be state and municipal police officers working in plain clothes, who make arrests without identifying themselves or explaining the reasons for arrests. The organization documented in several cases the use of incommunicado detention over several days. The organization also received credible reports that detainees had been tortured and ill-treated, primarily by state and municipal police, but also by members of the PFP.

In May 2006 teachers initiated a strike in Oaxaca state calling for improved pay and conditions, and occupied the main square and surrounding streets. An attempt by state police to forcibly evict teachers on 14 June led to a radicalization of the protest and the formation on of the Asamblea Popular del Pueblo de Oaxaca, APPO (Popular Assembly of the People of Oaxaca), an umbrella organization of social and political groups in support of the teachers and calling for the resignation of the state governor. As the climate of violence in the city increased, armed police in plain clothes started to arbitrarily detain protesters and were reportedly responsible for several shootings. Protesters established barricades in many neighborhoods in late August and the security situation further declined as unidentified armed men continued to target opposition supporters in marches and on barricades. On 29 October, the PFP entered the city to restore order. The operation resulted in the death of two civilians and the detention and injury of scores of others. Many of those who have been detained during the crisis have been released reportedly as a result of political negotiations, but with no clear idea of whether they may face re-arrest at a future date.


Please send appeals to arrive as quickly as possible:

– calling on the authorities to ensure all those detained during protests on 25 November are allowed immediate access to families, adequate medical attention and legal counsel of their choice;

– calling for them to be either charged with a recognizably criminal offence or released immediately;

– calling on the authorities to ensure the physical and mental integrity of those in custody and to carry out immediate and impartial investigations into allegations of torture or ill-treatment;

– reminding the authorities to their duty to maintain public order while protecting the human rights of all people, and ensuring that the use of force is proportionate and necessary to confront the threat faced;

– calling for an immediate and impartial investigation into the use of armed groups, believed to be state and municipal police, operating illegally to attack and detain protesters and passers-by, and for those responsible to be held to account;

– urging the federal and state authorities to ensure that all measures taken to address the crisis in Oaxaca fully respect international human rights law, and calling for them to avoid taking action which may worsen the human rights situation.

Minister of the Interior:
Lic. Carlos Abascal Carranza
Secretario de Gobernacion, Secretaria de Gobernacion
Bucareli 99, 1er. piso
Col. Juarez, Delegacion Cuauhtemoc
Mexico D.F., C.P.06600, MEXICO
Fax: 011 52 55 5093 3414
Salutation: Dear Minister/ Estimado Secretario de Gobernacion

Minister of Public Security:
Lic. Eduardo Medina Mora
Secretario de Seguridad Publica, Secretaria de Seguridad Publica
Paseo de la Reforma No.364, piso 16
Colonia Juarez, Delegacion Cuahutemoc
Mexico DF. C.P. 06600, MEXICO
Fax: 01152 55 5241 8393
Salutation: Senor Secretario / Dear Minister

Governor of Oaxaca:
Ulises Ruiz Ortiz
Gobernador del Estado de Oaxaca, Carretera Oaxaca – Puerto Angel, Km. 9.5
Santa Maria Coyotopec
C. P. 71254, Oaxaca
Oaxaca, MEXICO
Fax: 011 52 951 511 6879 (if someone answers, say ”me da tono de fax, por favor”)
Salutation: Senor Gobernador / Dear Governor

Interior Minister of Oaxaca:
Lic. Jorge Franco Vargas
Secretario General de Gobierno del Estado de Oaxaca
Constitucion 519
Esq. Martires de Tacubaya, Oaxaca
Oaxaca, MEXICO
Fax: 011 52 951 132 5378
Salutation: Senor Secretario / Dear Secretary

President of the National Human Rights Commission:
Dr. Jose Luis Soberanes Fernandez
Presidente de la Comision Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CNDH)
Periferico Sur 3469, 5º piso
Col. San Jeronimo Lidice
Mexico D.F. 10200, MEXICO
Fax: 011 52 55 5681 7199
Salutation: Dear President / Estimado Presidente

President of the Oaxaca State Human Rights Commission:
Dr. Jaime Perez Jimenez
Presidente de la Comision Estatal
Calle de los Derechos Humanos no. 210, Colonia America
C.P. 68050, Oaxaca
Oaxaca, Mexico
Fax: 011 52 951 503 0220
Salutation: Dear President / Estimado Presidente

Human rights organization in Oaxaca:
Red Oaxaquena de Derechos Humanos
Calle Crespo 524 Interior 4-E, Col. Centro, Oaxaca
Oaxaca, CP. 68000, MEXICO

Ambassador Carlos Alberto De Icaza Gonzalez
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20006
Fax: 1 202 728 1698

Please send appeals immediately. Check with the AIUSA Urgent Action office if sending appeals after 9 January 2006.

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Email: uan@aiusa.org
Phone: 202.544.0200
Fax: 202.675.8566


One comment

  1. Ruth I Valdez
    PO Box 2095, Freedom, CA 95019
    831 689-9971

    November 29, 2006

    Dear Sir,

    The world is watching Oaxaca. With your own citizens brutally attacked while trying to express their views and needs, the legitimacy of your government’s rule comes into question. And certainly the legitimacy of the state government in Oaxaca has already ended.

    We in the County of Santa Cruz, California, demand that the prisoners receive medical attention, with no more torture or harsh treatment;

    that they either be charged and allowed legal council of their choice, or be released;

    that they be given immediate access to their families;

    that the federal government or an international body investigate the illegal plain clothes armed groups posing as police in Oaxaca;

    that you address the crisis in a manner that shows respect for international human rights criteria;

    that any force used be proportional to the situation, and not allow your authorities to indulge in ‘out of control’ actions that worsen the suffering and that shame Mexico.


    Ruth Valdez, a fellow teacher

Comments are closed.