OPEN LETTER: PLEASE DISSEMINATE WIDELY
Dear colleagues, compañeras, compañeros:
We would greatly appreciate your support in responding on behalf of your organizations, where possible, and in reaching out to media you may have contacts with (with letters to the editor, seeking their coverage of this story, etc.) to the decision issued yesterday by the U.S District Court in Connecticut granting former Mexican President Ernesto Zedillo Ponce de Leon immunity and dismissing the suit filed against him alleging his responsibility for the policies and acts which culminated in the Acteal Massacre in Chiapas in December 1997 (45 indigenous Mayans killed, 36 of them women and children, while praying and fasting for peace, following their forced displacement from their home villages; background attached). Zedillo is currently a Professor at Yale where he directs its Center for the Study of Globalization, see: http://www.ycsg.yale.edu/center/zedillo.html; it is also appalling in this context that he has been recently appointed to be a member of "The Elders", the group of "elder statesmen" identified as human rights advocates initiated by Nelson Mandela, Desmond Tutu, Jimmy Carter, Kofi Annan, Mary Robinson, Bono, Peter Gabriel, etc.
The decision to grant immunity to Zedillo (as requested by both the Obama and Calderón administrations in Mexico) sets a very worrisome precedent that not only denies justice to the victims of the Acteal Massacre, and stacks the cards in favor of immunity and impunity for former Mexican President Calderón (as to the San Fernando Massacre, for example, which is the focus of the upcoming hearings organized by the Permanent Peoples Tribunal in Mexico on August 19 and 20, as to which we also seek your participation and support), but also transforms the U.S into a haven for former heads of state seeking to elude responsibility for human rights crimes, at the same time as the U.S seeks to negate Edward Snowden´s rights to asylum and refuge throughout the world. As many of you know, Calderón is in an analogous situation to Zedillo since he is currently a visiting scholar at the JFK School of Government of Harvard, while a petition alleging his responsibility for crimes against humanity and war crimes is pending before the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court.
We would greatly appreciate your kind support repudiating this grant of immunity to Zedillo and its implications, and demanding respect for the rights of the victims of the Acteal Massacre to truth, justice, full reparations, and guarantees of non-repetition resulting from this tragedy.
Many thanks and warm regards,
on behalf of the commission on Migration, Refuge, and Forced Displacement of the Mexican Chapter of the Permanent Peoples Tribunal (PPT), and
Secretariat, International Tribunal of Conscience of Peoples in Movement (ITCPM)
Graduate Program in Human Rights, Autonomous University of Mexico City (Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México, UACM)
World Briefing | The Americas
Lawsuit Against Ex-President of Mexico Is Dismissed
By ELISABETH MALKIN
Published: July 18, 2013A United States District Court judge in Connecticut on Thursday dismissed a civil lawsuit against former President Ernesto Zedillo of Mexico that was filed by 10 anonymous plaintiffs who said they were survivors of a 1997 assault. Judge Michael P. Shea said he was deferring to a request for immunity for Mr. Zedillo submitted by the State Department last year. The two-year-old lawsuit had sought $50 million in damages against Mr. Zedillo, who now leads a research institute at Yale University. Members of the indigenous group that was the target of the assault, known as Las Abejas, or the Bees, said they did not know the plaintiffs and disassociated themselves from the suit. Mr. Zedillo was president in 1997 when paramilitary gunmen fired on members of the group taking refuge from fighting in the southern state of Chiapas and killed 45 people, including 18 children.
US: Don’t Recommend Immunity for Mexico Ex-President Ernesto Zedillo
Allegations of Responsibility Should Be Evaluated by Courtshttp://www.hrw.org/news/2012/09/06/us-don-t-recommend-immunity-mexico-ex-president-ernesto-zedillo
September 6, 2012The US State Department should not issue a recommendation to grant the former president of Mexico, Ernesto Zedillo, immunity in a civil suit, Human Rights Watch said. The State Department is expected to notify a US district court judge in Connecticut on or before September 7, 2012 of its recommendation regarding whether Zedillo, who served from 1994 to 2000, should be granted immunity in a lawsuit alleging his responsibility for a massacre carried out when he was president.The plaintiffs in the civil suit, brought under the Alien Tort Statute, claim that Zedillo is responsible for war crimes, crimes against humanity, cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment, and other crimes in relation to the killing of 45 unarmed men, women and children in the community of Acteal, Chiapas, on December 22, 1997.The merits of the plaintiffs’ claims should be evaluated by a judge, rather than pre-emptively thrown out because the defendant was formerly a ranking government official, Human Rights Watch said. Functional immunity of state officials should not be invoked to shield them from accountability for serious crimes committed in violation of international law (considered to be jus cogens norms), such as genocide, war crimes, and crimes against humanity. In criminal cases the International Court of Justice has recognized immunity in narrow circumstances for high-level incumbents. .Offering immunity in the circumstances of this case would be inappropriate and set an overly broad precedent contrary to the rights of victims and the evolution of international law. The US is party to several international treaties that impose an obligation to respect, protect, and fulfill the human rights protected in the treaties. Those treaties also guarantee victims of human rights violations a right of access to an effective legal remedy, and to grant immunity in this case would be an arbitrary interference with that right.
Vicente "Panama' Alba
"Lets Be Realistic
Lets Do The Impossible"
Ernesto "Che" Guevara
SIGN THE JERICHO COINTELPRO PETITION!
Free All Political Prisoners!