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Community threatened by wind farm staff  

Credit:  25 October 2011 amnesty.org ~~

URGENT ACTION

Members of an indigenous community in Oaxaca, southern Mexico, have been threatened by security staff from a wind farm construction company. The company has been building on their land. Two human rights defenders have also received death threats. Their lives are a risk.

On 21 October, around fifty workers from a wind farm company arrived on land belonging to the indigenous Zapoteca community of Unión Hidalgo in Oaxaca state. The workers destroyed the fence surrounding the land. According to witnesses, they then threatened and insulted community members. A former police officer employed by the company to guarantee security of the project told human rights defender Lucila Bettina Cruz Velazquez “if you come back here again we’ll burn and kill you” (“si vuelves por acá te vamos a quemar y te vamos a matar”). Another human rights defender Maribel González was told to “leave this place now, we’re going to kill you” (“váyanse que los vamos a matar”). Four men believed to be employed as security by the company beat up Arquimides Gómez, a local teacher who has been supporting the community. He was punched in the ribs several times and threatened with a hammer. The community has filed a complaint with the state Public Prosecutor’s Office (Procuraduría General de Justicia) against the threats and aggression.

Members of the indigenous community are opposed to the wind farm being built on their land. They argue the construction is taking place without their free, prior and informed consent in line with the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and they are concerned about the impact of the construction on their agriculture and land. As a result of their opposition, they have been subject to threats and intimidation for several months. The construction project was halted on 24 May but the wind farm company has continued to exert pressure on the community and enter their lands.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

  • Urge the authorities to provide appropriate protection to the community of Unión Hidalgo and human rights defenders supporting their protest, especially those who have already been threatened by security staff working for the wind farm company
  • Urge them to carry out an independent and impartial investigation into the attacks and intimidation, and bring those responsible to justice, ensuring the wind farm company takes measures to prevent misconduct by its staff;
  • Urge them to ensure that the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous communities is obtained on the basis of reliable and accurate information on the impacts of the project.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 6 DECEMBER 2011 TO:

Minister of the Interior
Lic. José Francisco Blake Mora
Secretario de Gobernación
Abraham González No.48
Col. Juárez, Del. Cuauhtémoc
México, D.F, C. P. 06600, Mexico
Fax: +52 55 5093 3414
Email: secretario@segob.gob.mx
Salutation: Dear Minister

Oaxaca State Governor
Lic. Gabino Cué Monteagudo
Gobernador, Ciudad Administrativa Benemérito de las Américas
Edificio 7, Nivel 3, Carretera Oaxaca-Istmo Km. 11.5
Tlalixtac de Cabrera, C.P. 68270, Oaxaca, México
Fax: (+52) 951 502 0530
Email: j.castillo.oax@gmail.com
Salutation: Dear Governor/Estimado Señor Gobernador

And copies to:
Proyecto de Derechos Economicos Sociales y Culturales (Project on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, AC)
Email: proyectodesc@gmail.com

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country.

(((( ))))

Further information: Protesters at risk of unfair prosecution

[source]

Community activists and members of an Indigenous community protesting against the construction of a wind farm in Oaxaca, southern Mexico, were attacked and injured on 28 October. Amnesty International is concerned that the death of a man at the scene of the protests may be used to unfairly prosecute protestors and to deter future protests.

On 28 October, members of the People’s Assembly of the Isthmus in Defence of Land and Territory (Asamblea de los Pueblos del Istmo en Defensa de la Tierra y Territorio) and the Resistance Committee to Wind farm Project of Union Hidalgo (El Comité de Resistencia al Proyecto Eólico de Unión Hidalgo) held a protest on the La Venta-Union Hidalgo section of the Panamerican highway, against the construction of wind-turbines on their land.

According to information received, members of the nearby community of La Venta in favour of the wind-farm arrived and threatened the group to stop their protest. The protesters argued their right to peacefully protest, but more men arrived, armed with pistols and machetes. Leaders of the protesters, including Bettina Cruz Velazquez and Juan Regalado Martinez, were kicked and punched to the ground and threatened with death. The leader of the armed gang was apparently about to shoot Juan Regalado Martínez, a 61-year-old man with diabetes, but was restrained by a member of his group. The protesters fled the area and those that were injured have received medical attention.

However, in unclear circumstances Reynaldo Ordaz Velásquez, one of the men linked to the gang, was shot and killed at the scene. The authorities arrived after the killing and members of the gang alleged that the protesters were responsible. The local media has reported this version of events and the investigation initiated by the Oaxaca state Attorney General’s Office (Procurduría General de Justicia del Estado) also appears to be adopting this approach. Amnesty International is concerned that the investigation will not be impartial and exhaustive in order to establish the facts and prosecute those responsible, but could be used to unjustly prosecute protestors and deter demonstrations against the wind farm.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

  • Urging the authorities to provide appropriate protection to the small holder farmers in Unión Hidalgo and human rights defenders supporting their protest against the construction of the wind-farm, especially those who have already been threatened, attacked and may potentially be subject to unfair criminal proceedings
  • Calling for a full, prompt and impartial investigation into the killing of Reynaldo Ordaz Velásquez as well as the attack on protesters, for the results to be made public and for those responsible to be brought to justice;
  • Urging the authorities to ensure respect for the right to peaceful protest and the right of Indigenous communities to free, prior and informed consent on the basis of reliable and accurate information with regard to development projects which impact their land and livelihood.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 13 DECEMBER 2011 TO:

Oaxaca State Governor
Lic. Gabino Cué Monteagudo
Gobernador, Ciudad Administrativa Benemérito de las Américas
Edificio 7, Nivel 3, Carretera Oaxaca-Istmo Km. 11.5
Tlalixtac de Cabrera, C.P. 68270, Oaxaca, México
Salutation: Dear Governor/Estimado Señor Gobernador

Minister of the Interior
Lic. José Francisco Blake Mora
Secretario de Gobernación
Abraham González No.48
Col. Juárez, Del. Cuauhtémoc
México, D.F, C. P. 06600, Mexico
Fax: +52 55 5093 3414
Email: secretario@segob.gob.mx
Salutation: Dear Minister

And copies to:
Proyecto de Derechos Economicos Sociales y Culturales (Project on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, AC)
Email: proyectodesc@gmail.com

Source:  25 October 2011 amnesty.org

This article is the work of the source indicated. Any opinions expressed in it are not necessarily those of National Wind Watch.

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