Saturday, 3 November 2007

Repression in Oaxaca on anniversary of 'Battle of the University'

On November 2nd 2006 students and supporters of APPO repelled federal police forces backed by the military police, who attempted to take barricades surrounding the university in order to invade and capture the university radio station. During the 7-hour long 'Battle of the University' dozens of APPO supporters were arrested and injured.
To commemorate the event barricades were to be errected and tapetes (coloured sand memorials) laid at the 5 Senores crossroads near the university. At around 7.30 am, after the sand had been laid and the crossroads partially blocked, truckloads of armed police arrived and started arresting and beating those present. Dozens were arrested and a few required hospital treatment after being beaten in the head. Around half were subsequently released with the rest being held overnight. Reporters were also attacked.
Throughout the day truckloads of armed police patrolled the area and there was a heavy police presence in the nearby main cemetery where families were marking the Day of the Dead at the family graves. It is joked here that this was to prevent the dead rising up to tell the truth about the murders and repression stalking Oaxaca.
A march was called by APPO for around 3pm as a response to the earlier police repression. Around 500 marched along the ring road towards the 5 Senores crossroads but stopped on reports of truckloads of armed police occupying the crossroads. The march resumed after the police withdrew to surrounding streets. On reaching the crossroads a tapete, with floral display and candles was laid to commemorate the 26 murdered by federal, state and paramilitary forces last year.
This week has seen an escalation in police brutality in Oaxaca. On Monday a student was beaten by the police and several others followed and threatened after a commemoration.
The Federal Attorney's office chose this week to leak the 'nearly complete' findings of an investigation into the murder of Indymedia NY activist Brad Will on October 27th last year. According to these findings Brad was shot twice, the first time from 50 cms and then again whilst being transferred to hospital. This Federal investigation merely repeats the lies of the Oaxaca 'justice' department. These lies contradict all the testimonies of eyewitnesses near him at his death, none of whom saw anyone shoot him. Photos also prove that Brad was shot during the defence of the barricade and not whilst being transported to hospital. Conveniently the vehicle Bard was transported in and his clothes went missing from the Oaxaca 'justice' department.
According to 'Reporters without Borders' Mexico was the second most dangerous place for journalists in 2006, after Iraq, with 9 murdered. Since 2000 32 journalists have been murdered and 7 disappeared. Half of these have been attributed to drug-related investigations.
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