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Startseite Urgent Actions 2011 05 Indigenous cummunitiy members shot
UA 126/11
Abgeschlossen am 16. Juni 2011

Indigenous cummunitiy members shot

AI-Index: AMR 41/025/2011

Since 15 April, the indigenous community of Cherán, in Michoacan, western Mexico, has sealed itself off to try to protect itself from organized criminal gangs, who act with the collusion of local authorities and police. One resident was shot on 15 April and two more were killed on 27 April.

For several years, an armed gang with links to the main drug cartel in Michoacan has abducted and killed members of the indigenous Purépecha community of Cherán, and has carried out illegal logging on the community's land. Criminal gangs have operated with the complicity of local authorities and police.

On 15 April, members of the community of Cherán stopped trucks carrying illegally-logged timber and captured five loggers. The community informed the local authorities what had happened. Two hours later, a municipal police car and two pick-ups entered the town carrying at least 14 heavily armed men, who began shooting at residents. Eugenio Sánchez Tiandón was shot in the head; he remains in a coma.

In response, residents closed access to the town with barricades. Community leaders, with the assistance of human rights lawyers, started discussions with state and federal authorities about the security of the community, which are ongoing. On 23 April, the community presented the five illegal loggers to representatives of the Federal Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) along with 140 complaints from residents.

According to reports, on 27 April, community members once against stopped illegal loggers entering their lands. The armed loggers attacked community members, killing two men, Pedro Juárez Urbina and Armando Hernández Estrada. Amnesty International is not aware of steps taken to arrest and prosecute criminals and police involved in the attacks and residents have reported that messages have been sent to community leaders from the criminal gang that they will face reprisals for their actions. The community is demanding Federal Police ensure their safety.

Additional Information

The indigenous community of Cherán, in Michoacan, central western Mexico, has at least 16,000 inhabitants.

Prior to the latest incidents, seven members of the community have been killed and five others forcibly disappeared since 2009, allegedly by members of the criminal gang acting in collusion with municipal police. Despite filing complaints with the state and federal authorities, including the environmental crimes office (PROFEPA) for illegal logging, no action has been taken against those responsible leaving the community without protection or recourse to justice.

Since 2007, violence linked to organized crime has spiralled in Mexico. The government has reported more than 34,000 organized crime related killings. Many communities have suffered high levels of kidnapping and other violent crimes as criminal gangs, often operating with the collusion of police and local authorities, seek to extend their interests. The vast majority of crimes remain unsolved creating a climate of impunity and insecurity for vulnerable populations which in some instances cannot rely on the security forces to ensure safety and combat criminal gangs. Michoacan is one of the states most severely affected.

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