Nov 3, 2011

Ciudad Juarez Protesters Released, Will Press Charges against Police for Brutality

Yesterday, we spent most of the day receiving and passing along information about the arrest of some 29 (some media say 30) protesters who were beaten and arrested in Ciudad Juarez. Many networks of human rights defenders joined in to demand the release of the protesters, including El Paso groups and organizations from both sides of the border.

After pressure from national and international groups, the prisoners were released. This video captures the moment of the release and statements on the beatings and abuse they received from local police. It's in Spanish, but you can tell a lot from the black eyes and deep cuts they demonstrate to the cameras.

Julian Contreras, a leader of the community organization in Villas de Salvarcar, suffered multiple blows and abuses. At the end of the video, he announces that the demonstrators who were beaten and arrested will be pressing charges against the police.

These videos show that the demonstrators were unarmed and insisted repeatedly that theirs was a non-violent demonstration.

Video of police brutality at the demonstration
Video of police brutality Aldama Station

The police began to grab people and forcibly drag them away. Arrests took place in two places: first, at the demonstration where mostly young people were painting crosses to commemorate the dead in Juarez on Day of the Dead, and second at the police station where more demonstrators arrived to demand the release of the prisoners taken in the afternoon.

The CIP Americas Program joins other voices to demand a complete investigation and justice in this brutal attack on the right to non-violent demonstration. The case is of particular concern since the head of Public Security who presumably ordered and coordinated the attacks has a dark history. He took the job in Ciudad Juarez after being accused of torture while chief of police in Tijuana. his case is currently before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Why would a government supposedly concerned with injecting human rights into the drug war, hire a police chief accused of torture, with a finding of the local Human Rights Office against him and an open case before an international human rights organization?

Why would a local government that faces thousands of unsolved murders a year, focus on cracking down on non-violent protesters?

These are the questions that drug war policymakers in the US and Mexico refuse to ask. These are the true faces of the drug war that we don't see on television of in the mainstream news.

Youth and activists who demand demilitarization in Ciudad Juarez are not only subject to the general violence that plagues their city and their neighborhoods since the federal government launched the drug war there. Now they also face the targeted violence of the very same security forces supposedly charged with making the city safe. For many, their lives have become extremely precarious, physically and due to the lack of economic options available.

It is up to human rights defenders everywhere to support them and demand an end to violence and impunity in Ciudad Juarez. It is up to US citizens to demand and end to the Merida Initiative, and that their government cease to arm and train security forces that seem more interested in beating young people and the poor and defenseless of the city, than in controlling the structural violence that--despite the claims of the federal government--continues unabated.

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