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27.12.2016

PBI reinforces support for Cerezo Committee after death threats

Mexico City, 27 december 2016.- PBI reiterates its concerns regarding the threats, harassment and persecution suffered by members of the Cerezo Committee in recent months. It is worth remembering that on September 30, a drawing with a death threat against the Cerezo Contreras brothers, appeared on a wall of the Faculty of Philosophy and Languages of the UNAM (National Autonomous University of Mexico).

In light of these incidents, during the month of October, PBI and other NGOs have expressed their concern – both publicly and bilaterally – before federal and state authorities. Among these meetings was one with Hiram Almeida Estrada, Secretary of Public Security of Mexico City. PBI also strengthened its physical accompaniment and, on October 12 and 13, accompanied Héctor Cerezo, member of the Committee, to the XII Forum on Human Rights in Acapulco, and between October 28 and 30, Francisco Cerezo and Zita Loyo, also members of the Committee, during their visits to defenders and members of the Civic Democratic Union of Neighborhoods, Burroughs and Communities (UCIDEBACC). Additionally, PBI met with members of the Committee during their activities in Mexico City, in the Faculty of Philosophy and Languages of the UNAM, among other places, in order to follow-up on their security situation.

The Cerezo Committee is a recognized Human Rights Organization, which contributes to the knowledge and promotion of human rights and to the construction and dissemination of tools for the defense of human rights. As part of its work, it documents human rights violations and accompanies different civil society actors in their legitimate struggle for the right to self-determination and justice. Furthermore, it has been one of the leading organizations promoting a General Law on Enforced Disappearances and Disappearances by individuals in Mexico.

One of the cases which the Committee is accompanying is that of the Civic Union of Neighborhoods, Burroughs and Communities (UCIDEBACC), an organization from the state of Oaxaca that promotes community self-management for comprehensive housing projects. In recent years UCIDEBACC has received retaliations against its project, one of them concluded in the arrest (and ongoing detention) of three of its members: Librado Baños, Teófilo García and Felipe Rojas. In June 2015, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention described the detention of Mr. Baños as arbitrary, stating that his detention is motivated by "his active participation in the political and social life of Oaxaca and his defense of the rights of indigenous and afro-descendant peoples in the region". For the Committee, "the purpose of his detention is to intimidate human rights defenders, while paralyzing their work."

The Cerezo Committe was founded as a consequence following the arrest (on August 13, 2001), torture and confinement of the brothers Alejandro, Héctor and Antonio Cerezo Contreras and has resulted in 15 years of work for the defense of human rights, 14 of which have been accompanied by PBI. In this journey, the Committee has suffered various reprisals, which it and other civil society organizations place in the context of repression towards the defense of human rights in Mexico. PBI reiterates its concerns regarding the current security situation of the Committee and stresses the importance of human rights defenders being able to continue to carry out their legitimate work in defense of human rights without suffering threats and harassment that hinder and impede their work.

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