Monday, October 12, 2009

The following appeal is from Amnesty International Canada.

Obtilia Eugenio Manuel's life is under threat: Please write:
Sign the petition urging Mexico to provide protection for Obtilia
Obtilia Eugenio Manuel is small in stature but her voice is large and strong. She doesn’t hesitate to raise it in defense of the inhabitants of Me’ phaa Indigenous communities in Mexico’s Guerrero State, who continue to suffer persecution and injustice.

But Obtilia’s outspoken leadership has put her in danger. We need five minutes of your time now to help protect Obtilia from harm.

Amnesty Canada’s Mexico campaigner Kathy Price met Obtilia in Mexico this summer.

“I can’t say enough about Obtilia’s determined efforts to denounce terrible abuses by agents of the state,” reports Kathy. “She is a respected leader of the Me’ phaa Indigenous People’s Organization and spoke out eloquently at public demonstrations, in media interviews and to government officials. But Guerrero is an extremely dangerous place to be a human rights defender. Other Indigenous leaders have been abducted and killed. I am very worried about recent threats against Obtilia.”

Following the murder earlier this year of Indigenous leaders Raúl Lucas Lucía and Manuel Ponce Rosas, whose bodies bore marks of torture, Obtilia received a series of text messages on her cell phone. The messages warned Obtilia to expect the same fate.

Another text message included information that suggested her phone was tapped. The message warned that Obtilia would be intercepted during the journey she was about to make.
Later, she was followed and heard gunshots nearby.

In April, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights recognized the urgency of the situation and called on the government of Mexico to provide measures to protect Obtilia and her family. The response has been far from adequate.

On July 15, Obtilia was on her way to the state capital for a meeting with government officials regarding the implementation of security measures. As she left the bus station, two men approached, asking if she was Obtilia from Ayutla and whether she was traveling to the state capital. Fearing abduction, Obtilia ran back into the crowded station while the men followed her.
She managed to escape but later when Obtilia tried to continue her journey, she saw the men waiting in a car with no licence plates.

Please sign Amnesty’s e-petition urging Mexico’s Interior Minister to guarantee the protection of Obtilia Eugenio Manuel so she can safely continue to carry out her work on behalf of the rights of Me’ phaa Indigenous people.
Please go to either the Amnesty International Canada website or THIS LINK to send the following message to the Mexican authorities.
Secretaría de Gobernación
Lic. Fernando Gómez Mont
Bucareli 99, 1er. piso, Col. Juárez,
Del. Cuauhtémoc, México D.F.,
CP 06600, MEXICO
Dear Minister,
I am writing to express my deep concern about ongoing threats and intimidation against Obtilia Eugenio Manuel, a respected leader of the Me’ phaa Indigenous People’s Organization (OPIM). The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has called on the Mexican government for “provisional measures” to protect Obtilia from harm. The inadequate response is extremely worrying. It is the duty of the government of Mexico to protect human rights defenders from harm.
Please act without delay to:
*Ensure that Obtilia Eugenio Manuel and her family receives effective protection, in accordance with their wishes and the recommendation of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
*Investigate and bring to justice those responsible for threats and interference with Obtilia Eugenio Manuel.
*Publicly signal the support of the Mexican government for the legitimate activities of Obtilia Eugenio Manuel and other members of the Me’ phaa Indigenous People’s Organization in defence of human rights.

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