human rights observers killed in mexico
On April 27, human rights activist Betty Cariño and Finnish international observer Tyri Antero Jaakkola were killed by armed paramilitaries as they took part in a humanitarian mission to take food and medicine to the Autonomous Triqui Community in San Juan Copala, Oaxaca. The community had been left without electricity, water, medical access and basic provisions as a result of an ongoing paramilitary blockade.
The humanitarian mission consisted of Mexican and European human rights activists and journalists. Despite the mission having made their presence known to the relevant authorities, they were ambushed by a paramilitary group and two of the observers were killed.
Both of the victims were widely known and respected in their fields of expertise and had also worked closely with Friends of the Earth member groups.
Betty Cariño was known by many Friends of the Earth groups for her work with the National Coordination Team of the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA) and the Centre for Community Support Working Together (CACTUS)
Jyri Jaakkola was involved in several Finnish organisations that worked on creating equal and environmentally sustainable relationships with the global north and south. He worked with Friends of the Earth Finland on several occasions.
Environmental and human rights groups working in the area blame the Governor of Oaxaca for ignoring the plight of the Triqui Community and allowing the paramilitaries to operate with impunity while the authorities turn a blind eye.
Killings are a common occurrence in the Triqui region for those who defend indigenous rights and resources. Scores of people have been assassinated, including two women from San Juan Copala's community radio station in 2008.
For generations Triqui communities have been caught in a cycle of violence, fuelled by land grabs and repression. As a result, in 2007, the village of San Juan Copala broke away from the government that had failed to protect its people and declared itself an autonomous municipality. In response the governmental and paramilitary repression went into overdrive.
Friends of the Earth International is increasingly concerned about the criminalisation of solidarity movements around the world and will continue to denounce these cowardly acts . We urge you to join us.
- Listen to an interview with Gustavo Castro from Friends of the Earth Mexico on the situation (in spanish)
- Find out more about the background to this incident