Press Release, 10/20/08
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Melissa Mundt melissajmundt(at)gmail.com
Rachel Wallis, rachel.a.wallis(at)gmail.com
SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Monday, Oct. 20: Days after Mexican authorities arrested two activists for the murder of independent journalist Brad Will, Mexican photographer and witness to the murder, Gustavo Vilchis, denounces the arrests as politically motivated. Vilchis, along with human rights organizations and members of the media, argue that plainclothes police officers and a local elected official are responsible for Will’s murder.
According to the Oaxaca based indigenous organization Consejo Indigena Popular de Oaxaca (CIPO), Juan Manuel Martinez Moreno was arrested Thursday October 17 and charged with Will’s murder. Octavio Peréz was later arrested as an accomplice to the murder. CIPO reports that federal authorities have issued more warrants in relation to the case. Both Peréz and Martinez are activists with Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO) one of the main organizing bodies of the 2006 protests.
Vilchis, an eyewitness to Will’s murder, is currently on a speaking tour in the US. He argues that, “We know, and there is evidence to prove, that the bullets that took the life of Brad and injured at least three other protesters came from local officials, who were well armed and dressed as civilians. We, who have been fighting for justice in the murder of Brad, know that the investigations of the ‘Mexican authorities’ are full of irregularities and omissions. They are clearly trying to blame the people who put their lives at risk to try save Brad’s life, and at the same time, they are repressing and criminalizing protest movements.”
Will was shot and killed on October 27, 2006, during the violent clashes between protesters and authorities that consumed the city of Oaxaca, Mexico for nearly six months. Although autopsy reports revealed that Will was shot by the same caliber weapon carried by the municipal officials who were captured on film shooting towards the protesters, Mexican authorities have continued to insist that he was shot at close range by protesters.
On September 28, 2008, the National Commission on Human Rights in Mexico released a report claiming that there were serious irregularities and omissions during the investigation of the murder.
Gustavo Vilchis is currently on tour promoting the book “Teaching Rebellion: Stories from the Grassroots Movement in Oaxaca,” a collection of testimonies from participants in the Oaxacan social movement, which features his photography and his account of Will’s murder. The tour dates and locations are available here: http://teachingrebellion.wordpress.com/dates