Thursday, April 24, 2008

Brutal Attack Against Chiapas Political Prisoners

April 25 Update: The Other Campaign in San Cristobal de las Casas, Chiapas, reports that "el Lobo," the police squad specializing in prison transfers, arrived last night in the Cereso 5 "Los Llanos" prison. The brutalized prisoners are still isolated from the general prison population, and the arrival of el Lobo reinforces their fears that they will be transferred.

Ten Chiapas prisoners were brutally beaten on April 21 in what the prisoners claim was a politically motivated attack orchestrated by prison authorities.

Seven of the prisoners, Antonio Díaz Pérez, Tiburcio Gómez Pérez, Juan Díaz López, Miguel Díaz López, Diego Rodríguez Hernández, Nicolás Pérez Núñez, and Agustín Rodríguez Jiménez are members of "La Voz de los Llanos," the political prisoners' organization within the Cereso 5 "Los Llanos" prison in Chiapas. These prisoners participated in the hunger strike, fast, and plantón that resulted in the liberation of thirty Chiapan political prisoners in April. The three other prisoners, Mateo Gómez Santis, Agustín Díaz Gómez, and Orlando Santizo Castillo, are not political prisoners but support La Voz de los Llanos.

Twenty-four prisoners beat the political prisoners and their supporters in a prison bathroom at about noon on April 21. Four mestizo (mixed Spanish-Indigenous descent) prisoners led the attack. The mestizos are known within the prison as "los precisos," prisoners who maintain control, discrimination, and racial violence within the prison with the tacit approval of prison authorities. The Fray Bartolomé de Las Casas Human Rights Center ("Frayba") maintains that the preciso phenomenon is common practice throughout Mexico.

In a phone call to Frayba, the prisoners stated, "At 11:20am on April 21, 2008, political prisoners from La Voz de los Llanos, along with three other prisoners who sympathize with our struggle, were beaten under orders from the "preciso general" Bartolo García Suárez and three other precisos: Elias Domínguez Trejo, Damián Gutiérrez García, and Eleuterio de la Cruz Martínez, all of them of mestizo origin, accompanied by twenty more prisoners, amongst them: Héctor de Jesús Bautista Hernández, José Luis Urbina Gamboa, Próspero Gonzalo Flores, Darinel Alfaro Gallego, Juan Cristóbal Magdaleno, Iván Estrada, José Capuino, Rigoberto López Alza, Juan Diaz Meléndez, Carlos Rodrigo, Tomas de la Cruz Martínez, Manuel López Pérez, Juan Trejo, el "Loco", el "Disco," and el "Zorro", who were paid $100 to commit the aggression against us." Several prison guards witnessed the beating but did nothing to intervene.

These same prisoners also threatened the political prisoners in their workspace where they make hammocks to sell to supporters in order to sustain themselves.

During the beating, the aggressors kicked, punched, and beat the political prisoners and their supports with broomsticks. They also tried to drown Mateo Gómez Santiz in a container of water. Many of the victims complain of pain all over their bodies and difficulty breathing. Prison medical staff has still not evaluated the prisoners or treated their injuries.

After the beating, the four precisos and prison warden Sergio Lázaro Vicente circulated petitions amongst the prison population requesting the political prisoners' transfer to another prison. The political prisoners say that this was a "direct intervention by the highest authority of Cereso 5" to silence them because of their public denouncements of corruption and irregularities that rule prison life, and also because the political prisoners have won the respect of the general prison population.

Following the beating, prison authorities isolated the victims from the general population. The prisoners say their isolation makes them vulnerable to further aggressions, and that they're worried they'll be transferred to another prison.

In a statement released the day of the beating, prisoners from La Voz del Amate, a political prisoners' organization in another Chiapan prison, demand the immediate firing of the head of the Cereso 5 prison, Alejandro Galicias Morales, for being the "intellectual author" of the attack.


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