Violence and threats against students

Mexico: # YoSoy132 activists report harassment

Sara König in Mexico City

Even after Enrique Peña Nieto won the presidential election in Mexico, the student movement #YoSoy132 continue their demonstrations against election fraud and big media corporations. But the protests have become more dangerous. More and more the activists are subjected to arrests, threats and physical attacks. Security forces responded to the protests against Peña Nieto’s establishment with tear gas and warning shots. At a “# YoSoy132” demonstration in Oaxaca on July 22nd, 25 young men and women were beaten and abused by officials. In prison, the students were sexually harassed by the police. One student was even said to have been tortured with electric shocks.

The number of threats of violence, arrests and attacks on students have been rising since the beginning of the demonstrations in May. Many of the victims want to remain anonymous. Videos, photos and press releases from the student movement leave us with no doubt about the reprisals: phone or e-mail death threats, attacks in the street, anonymous threats of violence within social networks, attempted murder – the list is long.

“I was suddenly followed by on the highway to Pachuca Actopan. They tried to push me off the road but I was able to escape,” “del Castillo told Iram of” # YoSoy132 Hidalgo”

He and other victims have already reported their experiences to the National Human Rights Commission (CNDH).

“Most students are silent about the anonymous calls they receive. They are threatened with violence or kidnapping. Personal information is used to exert pressure on the person and their family,” said Agustin Basave, director of graduate studies at the University Iberoamericana in Mexico City.

Its faculty provides victims of threatening phone calls moral and legal counsel. He urged the Mexican government to take the necessary measures to guarantee the activists of “# YoSoy132” safety. Students report that civilian police attend meetings incognito in order to take photographs of the activists and to collect their personal data. What happens then, no one knows, until suddenly the photo turns up as a chain mail attachment.

“My parents are full of fear at home, when I demonstrate. They are already thinking about sending me into exile in the United States,” said the engineer Irery del Rocio from “# YoSoy132 Guadalajara”. The future seems frightening. The Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI) was even in power back in the state of Jalisco. Terrible memories resurface: repression, corruption, electoral fraud and the student massacre of 1968. Back then, the first Olympic Games in Latin America were held in Mexico. The country wanted to show off its best side. But in the capital, students demonstrated against the authoritarian police state and the poor education system. Ten days before the opening of the ga responsibility mes, the democracy movement was put to an end. According to human rights organisations, 337 people were killed on October 2nd, 1968. The government has never admitted to more than 37 deaths. No amends have ever been made for the official version of the event.

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