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Mexico vs Human Rights Council – Nil All?

Mexico vs Human Rights Council – Nil All?


By Julie Webb-Pullman in Mexico

As the first meeting of the new Human Rights Council begins writing a new chapter of the book, as United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Louise Arbor described at its opening on 19 June, to “promote liberty through democracy, justice, and an equitable distribution of resources, and to create an environment tolerant of dissent and difference,” one of the Council members seems to have a serious literacy problem.

Amnesty International’s annual report on Mexico recorded in December 2005:

“Little progress was made in bringing to justice those responsible for grave human rights violations committed during the “dirty war” in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Despite four years of work, only seven arrest warrants against former state officials were executed. In the hundreds of other cases, either the Special Prosecutor did not file charges, or charges were rejected by the courts. In July, in breach of international law, the Supreme Court ruled that genocide committed before 2001 was bound by the statute of limitations.”

They go on to say that:
- official statistics indicate that nearly half of all women over the age of 15 had suffered some form of violence during the previous year;
- at least four journalists were killed in apparent reprisal for exposing corruption and organised crime;
- human rights defenders working in local communities faced intimidation, threats and judicial harassment; and
- reports of arbitrary detention and torture remained common.

And that is just the most recent report in a series detailing systematic and serious abuses over several decades.

Way to go, Mexico! But they did finally ratify the Optional Protocol to the Convention Against Torture (I guess the optional bit means they can ignore it if they feel like, as they did in San Salvador Atenco and Oaxaca), and submitted a swag of overdue reports. And on Sunday 02 July, they get the chance to prove that, unlike the World Cup, they really can play up there with the big boys – they are having true-blue democratic elections!!!!

Seeing as all of the major and many of the minor Mexican political parties seem to have a bit of a comprehension problem with human rights, given that not one of them publicly condemned the outrages at Atenco, here are a few pictures to help them avoid a national ‘Atenco’ in the coming days. To be fair, they are being compared to another member of the Council, who is also a close neighbour. As Ms Arbor said, no-one has a pristine human rights record, but some are most certainly cleaner than others. See if you, too, can spot the difference! (Havana shots all mine, Mexican from various Indymedia)

Which picture shows members of an instrument of state power defending the right to sovereignty and self-determination?


Havana, Cuba - March 2006


Atenco, Mexico - May 2006

Which of the following shows members of instruments of State power in harmony with their co-citizens?


Havana, Cuba – March 2006-06-28


Oaxaca, Mexico – June 2006

Which civilian is enjoying his rights out of these three?


Atenco, Mexico - May 2006


Havana, Cuba - March 2006

See, Mexico, it’s not so difficult to use State power responsibly. So as Sunday approaches, and your citizens inevitably take to the streets to express their differences and dissent, can you Mexican authorities of ALL political parties PLEASE put these pictures in your wallets, and when tempted to play the tough guy, take a look at them, and think about what you really want for your country – a chance to help write the new book of Human Rights Council, or to be the evil villain of the very first paragraph.

Human Rights Council, be very aware that the world is watching this first “test match” of one of your Council members, and if “National protections systems fail, whether through inadequacy, incompetence, indifference or malice” and you do not live up to your promise, if “...lives and livelihoods are lost or imperilled, the emptiness of paper guarantees [is] not backed by the genuine resolve to act,” it will, indeed, be nothing short of betrayal – not only of Mexico, but of the world.

And to those tearful Mexicans weeping over the loss of a game of soccer – when you can also weep for the thousands of your fellow citizens disappeared, tortured, murdered, or illegally detained, when you can put as much effort and energy into preventing further human rights abuses in all spheres of Mexican life as you do in supporting your national sport, then, and only then, will you have earned the right to play on the world stage – and maybe then, you might even win.

*** ENDS ***

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