For Borderland Beat by DD
On November 20 three different massive marches led by students and families of the missing 43 students coalesced on the Zocolo, the main plaza in Mexico City. The marchers were not only demanding the return of missing students, but demanding the resignation of President Engrique Pena Nieto and demanding justice for the other 22,000+ missing in Mexico. The demonstrations were peaceful during the entire day of marching and the coming together in the Zocolo.
Earlier in the week Pena Nieto had warned that violence and vandalism would not be tolerated in demonstrations and threatened to use state force against protestors if that occurred.
It seems his words turned into action on the night of Nov. 20 as the tens of thousands of demonstrators started disbanding and returning to their homes at about 10:PM. Shortly after 11:PM a small group of individuals wearing face masks started attacking the troops guarding the National Palace that faces the Zocolo. Rocks, bottles a few Molotov cocktails were thrown.
Estimates of the size of the group involved in the violence ranged from 20 to 40. The army and police responded with force attacking indiscriminately the small crowd that remained in the plaza. Police violently removed protesters from Zocala Square injuring dozens, despite pleas from the protesters
|pleading with police no to use force photo from telsur|
The police indiscriminately attacked all those present, including Juan Martin Perez, the executive director of the Network for the Rights of Children, who was in the square with his family. A photographer from Mexican magazine Proceso was also among the injured when an officer threw a sharp piece of metal at him. Dozens were injured and 15 arrested.
Students and bystanders insisted that the masked “anarchist” were not part of the demonstrators in the marches. Earlier in the day, social media was abuzz with allegations that police were transporting officers in plainclothes and that police intended to infiltrate the peaceful march to provoke violence.
Ayotzinapa student Dante Hernandez Castrejon said government violation of human rights of protesters that were arrested during the November 20 demonstrations in Mexico City are “way out of line” and are aimed at intimidating people who have supported the struggle to pressure authorities to find the 43 disappeared students alive.
He pointed to the existence of some infiltrators in the area around the Mexico City airport that morning and in the Zocalo that night, but said that those arrested were students.
Eleven of those arrested were charged with serious crimes against the state, including attempted murder, conspiracy (terrorism). After their arrest they were transferred by the PGR to the state of Veracruz and on Monday presented to the 17th District Court to determine if they should be detained.
The court denied them bail due to the seriousness of the crimes even though the evidence against them was “fuzzy”. PGR failed to produce the videos and photos that the office had promised as conclusive evidence of their guilt. The “key” element in the evidence presentedto identify the arrested as part of a “collective subversive group” was the testimony of police who said the students referred to each other as “compa” (buddy).
The detainees complained to Mexico’s National Human Rights Commission (CNDH) for alleged acts of physical violence and mistreatment during their transport to the Republic’s General Attorney (PGR) facilities and later to Federal Prisons, where they remain held.
Alejandro Jimenez, counselor to the allegedly unfairly detained declared that the moving of five male students to the high security prison of Veracruz and three women to the one in Nayarit, has made difficult the communication with their families, most of them of limited economic resources.
During a press conference in Mexico city, Jimenez said that the arrested attended the march on November 20 as part of different groups; also, they were verbally mistreated, threatened and physically attacked while being arrested and during their transfer from the Deputy Organized Crime Specialized Secretary (SEIDO) to the states of Veracruz and Nayarit. The lawyer quoted the files of the prison physicians, that states the arrested individuals have been evidently beaten.
Activists fear that the repression unleashed Thursday night in Zocalo is a sign of things to come.
La Jornada said in an editorial that;
It is regrettable, first of all, that a protest for a crime committed by a police force, as is the case in the murder and disappearance of the student teachers in Iguala on September 26, is reinforced with abuse by authorities against innocent citizens. The arbitrary and baseless arrests result in a violation of the law by those in charge of seeing that it prevails, weakens the rule of law, accelerates the discrediting of government institutions and increases the discontent already traversing the country.
Moreover, as reprehensible as is repeated police abuse against innocent citizens, the inability of the police to distinguish between innocent people and possible suspects, and the unjustified detention of random people, it is even more reprehensible that citizens who are arrested in these circumstances receive treatment similar to that of murderers, drug traffickers and kidnappers, and that they are sent to federal prisons with unusual speed by the institutions that administer the eAs can be seen, this trend has moved from words to deeds, while the arbitrariness with which the police acted to disperse the crowd and the actions of the prosecutors who consigned the detainees cannot be understood as anything other than a means of intimidating those who have participated in these mass actions and of inhibiting the realization of future demonstrations.
Such a perspective is unacceptable, because it would reveal a government that has not only been unable to provide a single hard and credible piece of information on the whereabouts of the 43 missing students, but also that is beginning to focus more on silencing and suppressing expressions of discontent aroused by that crime than to clarify itnforcement of justice.
"The government is dumbstruck," said Jose Antonio Crespo, a political science professor at Mexico's Center for Economic Research and Teaching.
"This should be a turning point to enact deeper measures against corruption, whether the entire political class accepts it, wants it, or not," he argued.
Milenio newspaper columnist Ciro Gomez Leyva warned that Pena Nieto "will not get a second chance.
|FREE THE POLITICAL PRISONERS;phot by Reuters /Carlos Jasso|
The indiscriminate attack on the mostly peaceful crowd and the arbitrary arrest of the 11 students on Nov. 20 has not succeeded in intimidating and repressing the protesters. It has only given the protesters a new slogan and theme for their marches.
A small march on Sat., Nov 22 was held protesting the arrests and demanding the release of the 11 “political prisoners”. Another larger march was held yesterday, Tue. Nov. 25 with the same demands.
At the National Center for the Arts, a public institution in Mexico City's south, roughly a hundred students and professors gathered in an open-air amphitheater Monday to discuss the upcoming protest. The purpose of the assembly wasn't to draw up plans of attack, but rather to figure out how marchers could protect themselves from the police. Atzin Andrade González, who attends the center's painting and sculpture school, is among the group of 11 detainees.
"It's actually kind of scary," Eduardo, a 23-year-old student at the center's music school, said. "But we can't give in to that fear. Even though we know [the police] have the power to disappear us, we have to continue so they don't do it to anyone else."
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