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The Tapu Te Ranga Declaration

The Tapu Te Ranga Declaration: An International Call To Mexico To Release Tortured Mexican Environmentalists And To End Old Growth Logging.

Mexico was urged today in an international declaration* released in Wellington, New Zealand, immediately to release tortured farmer environmentalists, Rodolfo Montiel Flores and Teodoro Cabrera Garcia who have been imprisoned after conviction on trumped up charges following their peaceful opposition to logging in the Mexican state of Guerrero.

The Tapu Te Ranga declaration was issued today in Wellington New Zealand at the close of a 3 day international meeting on forests and forest protection. A copy was presented to the Mexican Embassy in Wellington and to the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Helen Clark, who was asked to assist the international campaign for the release of Montiel and Cabrera. She expressed her concern and said that New Zealand would take the matter up with the Mexican representatives this week.

The declaration, the original of which is to be sent to President Vicente Fox and other Mexican authorities, is designed to help the environmentalists and to pressure Mexico to stop the logging in Guerrero where 40% of the forests have been stripped away in the last eight years. The loggers include Boise Cascade, a US company.

Montiel and Cabrera were detained for opposing logging on land made available for logging to local landowners who in turn make deals with huge timber companies. Corruption in endemic and seems to involve politically powerful landowners, the army, paramilitary groups, the police and the timber companies.

The Declaration also calls for an end to the harassment of Montiel and Cabrera’s colleague environmentalist farmers in the Oganizacion de Campesinos Ecologistsas de la Sierro de Petatlan y Coyuca de Catalan. In late October urgent appeals for help were issued for help for group members who are reportedly facing death threats from soldiers and paramilitary groups. Amnesty International has adopted Montiel and Cabrera as prisoners of conscience and is now also very concerned about their colleagues too.

The two prisoners were tortured in detention prior to processing and in jail. The medical evidence, though documented by an independent Dutch human rights organisation was not admitted to the trial. They were charged and convicted on offences including having firearms and drugs but they have said that these were planted and "confessions" were extracted under torture. More recently the prison chief was overheard to say that he wanted to hire other prisoners to beat up the environmentalists.

The delegation to the Mexican Embassy and to the New Zealand Prime Minister included Juan Carlos Beas Torres, representative of UCIZONI**, an indigenous community union from Oaxaca, Mexico; Anatoly Lebedev, of the Taiga [forest] Rescue Network, Vladivostok, Russia; Pat Rasmussen, American Lands Alliance, USA; Dr Leonie van der Maesen, Friends of the Earth International, University of Utrecht, Amsterdam; Orin Langelle, of Native Forest Network and Action for Community and Ecology in the Regions of Central America; and Cath Wallace, of the Environment and Conservation Organisations of New Zealand.

The conference was organised by the global Native Forests Network and Native Forests Action, New Zealand.

Cath Wallace, like Rodolfo Montiel a Goldman Environmental Prize laureate, said today "the greatest hope now lies with President-elect Vicente Fox who is due to take office on 1 December 2000. The departing government of President Ernesto Zedillo has done little more than shrug the matter off as a matter only for the state of Guerrero. But loss of forests and violations of human rights are matters of global, national and local importance.

"If the Zedillo government will not move, then our hope is that President Vicente Fox will and that Lic Rene Juarez Cisneros, Governor of Guerrero State and other relevant authorities will see that these people are innocent protectors of the earth and should be released.

ENDS

* The full text is appended below.

**UCIZONI ( Union of Indigenous Communities in the Northern Zone of the Isthmus), Oaxaca, Mexico

For further information,

contact Cath Wallace, ++64-4-389-1696 (home) or ++64-4-463-5713 (w) or ecowatch@reddfish.co.nz

24 November 2000

Tapu Te Ranga Marae

Island Bay

Wellington,

New Zealand

President Vicente Fox

President of Mexico

Mexico City

Mexico

THE TAPU TE RANGA DECLARATION:

CALL TO RELEASE MEXICAN ENVIRONMENTALISTS AND

END LOGGING OF OLD GROWTH FORESTS

NOTING and deploring the destruction of forests in Guerrero Mexico by Boise Cascade;

DISMAYED at the detention, arrest, torture and conviction by dubious trial of Rodolfo Montiel Flores and Teodoro Cabrera;

CONSCIOUS that significant independent medical evidence of injuries by torture of the two campesinos was not admitted to the trial;

AWARE that Amnesty International has adopted Rodolfo Montiel Flores and Teodoro Cabrera as prisoners of conscience;

DEPLORING the apparent statement by the prison chief that he wanted to contract other prisoners to beat the environmentalists.

We, the undersigned concerned citizens of the world, call on the Mexican Government and President Vicente Fox immediately:

1.. To release Rodolfo Montiel Flores and Teodoro Cabrera from jail; 2.. To prevent the harassment of environmentalists; 3.. To end the logging of old growth forests in Guerrero and all other regions of Mexico. (Signed by 60+ representatives of organisations and individuals from around the world).


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