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People protesting human rights abuses under Peña Nieto subjected to violence in Mexico City

This statement was originally published on article19.org on 1 December 2014.

The #RompeElMiedo (#BreakTheFear) network, made up of media and human rights groups, has documented that after the #1DMX march had ended [a protest about the human rights abuses that have taken place in the two years since Peña Nieto became president on 1 December 2012], forces of the Ministry of Public Security of Mexico City (SSPDF) repeated the pattern of using disproportionate and indiscriminate force against peaceful protesters, passers-by, journalists and human rights defenders. These violations included unlawful deprivations of liberty — or "kettling" — and physical assaults.

The following assaults against journalists and human rights defenders were documented at the end of the day (11 pm):

- Kettling and physical assaults against members of Brigada Marabunta outside the Senate building;
- Kettling of Regeneración Radio members outside Hotel Emporio;
- Physical assaults and theft of equipment from Verónica Galicia and Erick García of La Voladora Radio;
- Physical assaults against Ernesto Ledesma of Rompeviento TV;
- Physical assaults against Ricardo González of ARTICLE 19.

In addition, detentions of at least five students were documented:

- Daniel Armando Arredondo López, from the National Polytechnic Institute (IPN);
- Yahir Jeffet Rojas, from IPN Vocational College 9;
- Jorge Castañeda, from IPN Vocational College 9;
- Damián Reyes Lara, from the Faculty of Philosophy and Arts of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM);
- Lisbeth Gutierrez, from the IPN, who has since been released, but was physically assaulted.

It is worrying that members of the security forces, whose role it is to guarantee human rights, are the main aggressors against civilians exercising their right to peaceful protest.

The acts of violence committed by the SSPDF against these citizens constitute human rights violations and demonstrate a lack of responsibility in the chain of command and the absence of clear protocols for security forces on the ground.

In particular, it was observed that the operational command obstructed the monitoring work of civilian human rights observers, refusing to identify themselves when they were confronted as they proceeded to beat and detain demonstrators. The police operation allowed a small minority of troublemakers to join protesters who were demonstrating peacefully. The delayed and disorganized police response jeopardized the safety of the other demonstrators.

In view of these events, ARTICLE 19 calls for President Enrique Peña Nieto and the Mayor of Mexico City, Miguel Ángel Mancera, to dismiss the city's Secretary for Public Security, Jesús Rodríguez Almeida, as well as the senior officers responsible through acts or omissions. Responsibility for the ongoing violations by the SSPDF lies primarily with its commanding officers and, in any country in which the rule of law prevails, their dismissal would be immediate.

ARTICLE 19 is struck by the lack of measures to guarantee peaceful protest as a public act in pursuit of truth and justice following the events that occurred in Iguala, in the state of Guerrero, two months ago, against 43 teacher training college students from Ayotzinapa.

It is important to remember that the public expressions of indignation in Mexico in recent weeks are examples of the legitimate exercise of rights and freedoms enshrined both in the Mexican Constitution and in the various instruments of international law signed by Mexico. Hence, any act that aims to suppress those rights is an attack on democracy.

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