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Demand justice for human rights defenders assassinated in Oaxaca, Mexico

May 10, 2010

On April 27, Mexican human rights activist and indigenous leader Alberta ("Bety") Cariño and Finnish human rights observer Jyri Antero Jaakkola were killed and several people injured when the international aid caravan they were part of was ambushed by paramilitaries. 

The caravan, made up of more than 30 national and international human rights observers, was on its way to San Juan Copala, Oaxaca to deliver food, clothing and medical supplies to members of the autonomous Triqui indigenous community who have been under siege by paramilitaries for several months. Bety was one of the caravan's main organizers. She was shot in the head; Jyri died beside her.

The gunmen identified themselves as members of the Union for the Social Well-being of the Triqui Region (UBISORT), a group founded in 1994 by members of the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI), Mexico's historical ruling political party that controls the Oaxaca state government. UBISORT has been identified by the United National High Commissioner on Refugees as a paramilitary organization.

Oaxaca State officials have denied any responsibility for the attack and instead blame the caravan organizers. "Whoever organized this caravan will have to answer for it," Oaxaca Secretary of the Interior Evencio Martinez told the Associated Press.

Bety Cariño is being mourned by organizations throughout Mexico and internationally, including MSN. She was a founder and leader of CACTUS (Centro de Apoyo Comunitario Trabajando Unidos) an indigenous, human and labour rights organization based in Huajuapan de León, Oaxaca. She was 35 years old.  CATCUS is a member of the Mexican Network of People Affected by Mining (REMA) and the Mexican Action Network on Free Trade (RMALC). Bety's funeral took place on April 29 in her birth town of Chila de las Flores, Puebla. Over 1,000 friends, relatives and supporters attended.

We urge you to write to the Mexican authorities today to condemn this crime and demand that those responsible be brought to justice. Send a letter to the Mexican Government today!

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