Voices of Ayotzinapa

Hilda Legideño, mother of Jorge Tizapa Legideño, and Bernabé Abraján, father of Adán Abraján de la Cruz, two of the missing students Hilda Legideño, mother of Jorge Tizapa Legideño, and Bernabé Abraján, father of Adán Abraján de la Cruz, two of the missing students

In the midst of a serious human rights crisis, marked by the disappearance of 43 students in September 2014, Mexico was heard by the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances on February 2 and 3, in Geneva. The responses given during the hearing, however, alarmed the parents of the missing students who were present at the meeting and Mexican civil society organizations.

Conectas helped organize the mission of the Mexican organization Tlachinollan Human Rights Center and the families of the missing students to participate in the 8th session of the UN Committee on Enforced Disappearances.

“The response of the sizable State delegation was unsatisfactory,” reads a statement issued by 15 Mexican human rights organizations after the meeting. “As such, the international community recognized the urgent obligation of the State to take effective steps to put a stop to the practice of forced disappearances in the country and break the cycle of impunity that has prevailed for decades.”

Hilda Legideño, mother of the missing student Jorge Tizapa Legideño, who was present at the meeting in Switzerland pointed out that there are inconsistencies in the investigations. “The government is being protected because it was the police that took our sons. Why aren’t they being investigated? So far, nobody has been prosecuted for the Iguala attacks.” In an interview with the EFE news agency, Legideño also called on the government to bring the students back alive.

The positions defended by the Mexican delegation in the UN committee were considered vague and little data was presented. The purpose of the committee is to monitor the application of the International Convention for the Protection of All Persons from Enforced Disappearances.

In the hearing, the experts said that Mexico needs to look for the students from the Raúl Isidro Burgos Rural College of Ayotzinapa, under the assumption that they are still alive; develop reliable records on people who have disappeared in the country; provide assistance to the victims and their families and conduct transparent investigations, particularly when they involve public officials.

The organizations also criticized the fact that the Mexican government has ratified the Convention without accepting the clause contained in Article 31. This would allow the Committee to receive and examine individual complaints of human rights violations committed by the State, thereby increasing access to justice for victims and civil society organizations.

The case

The Raúl Isidro Burgos college, built in 1926, trains rural teachers who work in some of Mexico’s poorest communities. It is one of 16 such educational institutions in the country and currently has nearly 500 live-in students. In recent years, this educational model has been marginalized by the government and by society, resulting in frequent budget cuts. In its defense, the students have organized protests and campaigns to raise funds – like they did on September 26, 2014, the day they were attacked.

When making their way by bus from the city of Iguala to Chilpancingo, the capital of the state of Guerrero, the Ayotzinapa students were attacked twice: first, by municipal police officers and then by a group of unidentified armed men. During these assaults, six students were killed and 43 disappeared after being taken away in police vehicles. Two others are hospitalized in serious condition.

On January 27, the Mexican Office of the Attorney General closed the case involving the 43 students. According to its version of events, the police handed them over to members of a criminal group called Guerreros Unidos (United Warriors), who killed them and burned their bodies in a pit in the city of Cocula. The ashes were then thrown in a river.

But according to the parents of the victims, there is no evidence to support this version, only statements from people who were arrested in connection with the case. To date, the body of one student has been identified by the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team, which is assisting the group of parents in their independent investigation. The team has also declared that there is no scientific evidence to corroborate the version of the Mexican government.

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