Indigenous Group Condemns Release of Prisoners Involved In Acteal Massacre
Mexican Federal Judge Frees 15 People Accused Of Participating In Infamous Killings That Left 45 People Dead
Las Abejas ("The Bees” in English), an indigenous civil society organization in Mexico, is denouncing the release of 15 prisoners responsible for a massacre committed by paramilitaries in the village of Acteal, Chiapas on December 22, 1997. Late last week, a federal judge announced that the inmates would be freed due to “good behavior,” despite being involved in the vicious killings that left 45 unarmed villagers dead on that day. Most of the victims were women and children.
“Knowing of the recent release of 15 persons responsible for the slaughter of Acteal, perpetrated on December 22, 1997, the civil society organization Las Abejas from Acteal condemns the complicity of the Mexican state to cover up the crimes against humanity in Mexico,” reads a statement from the group, whose members were murdered in Acteal.
The Christmas massacre in the Chiapas village sparked widespread international attention due in part to the sheer brutality of the attack. The townspeople, of Tzotzil Mayan decent, were in a chapel praying when armed men with paramilitary groups charged into the building and began shooting. Pregnant women were reported to have been stabbed in the belly and children as young as 8 months were killed. Those complicit in the massacre ranged from the paramilitaries, to the state police, to the Mexican military, and to the Institutional Revolutionary Party (PRI in Spanish initials). Julio César Ruiz Ferro, then governor of Chiapas with the PRI, resigned after being cited as mastermind behind the killings, but those responsible are still evading justice today. Since the massacre, 44 prisoners accused of being involved have been freed.
In response to the recent liberation of the 15 prisoners, Las Abejas is live casting a press conference online from Chenalhó, Chiapas this Friday at 11:00 a.m. Central time on Las Abejas de Acteal and at the Chiapas Denuncia Pública.