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Participation of Elga Aguilar of Comité Cerezo Mexico in the presence of Nobel Laureate Jody Williams

Sunday 22 January 2012, by Comité Cerezo México

I am member of a mixed organization called Comité Cerezo México. Its origin was the illegal detention, torture and imprisonment in maximum security prisons of three brothers in 2001: Alejandro, Héctor and Antonio Cerezo Contreras, along with a náhuatl indigenous man named Pablo Alvarado Flores, all of whom were also accused of terrorism and organized delinquency after a process plagued with irregularities. In the beginning the conformation of the organization was carried out by friends and family of the detainees.

Many years we were more women than men in the organization, currently we are half and half, some of us had no friendship or family ties with the detainees and we joined throughout the seven and a half years that it cost to achieve their freedom. It’s worth noting that one of the first lawyers who took up the case was Digna Ochoa y Plácido, who was murdered the day before the first audience of the case, and who is insistently slandered by those who take for granted the theses that she committed suicide as a result of an emotional imbalance.

Due to the situation of risk that we face, since 2002 we rely on the company of International Peace Brigades and in 2006 the Interamerican Commission of Human Rights granted three of our members precautionary measures. Despite this we have lived through harassment, surveillance, monitoring and aggression towards members of our organization; we have even been threatened through a telephone that was provided by the state to abide by the precautionary measures. In ten years of struggle we have been threatened to death on thirteen occasions, the first time in December of 2001 and the last in November of 2011.

These threats make reference to our families, the most recent one alludes to the two year-old son of two members of our organization. They refer to women always with a connotation of sexual violence; it has not been easy to confront the fear that the possibility of sexual torture engenders, or of the loss of one of our companions and fellows by extrajudicial execution or forced disappearance; it has also been difficult to think of how we are to explain to our children the violence that constantly threatens us and how we are to confront it to continue fighting forward.

Unfortunately, in this path that we have undertaken, we have documented the increase of violence exercised on people who defend human rights, who are being extrajudicially executed and forcefully disappeared in greater number. We are also observing the growing impunity that allows for terror to be implanted amongst the population, both organized and non-organized. We have been witnesses, in our own flesh, of the stigmatization that the State generates with its slander campaigns to create the conditions that allow for the isolation and annihilation of human rights defenders.

Based on our own experience and as a result of the training that other organizations and people have provided us with, we currently impart human rights workshops to other people and organizations that partake in the social movement so that they can acquire one more tool to aid their struggles; another workshop that we share is on the documentation of human rights violations because we consider that without a systematic register of facts related to repression, data is lost that would allow us to elaborate strategies to face political violence. We carry out two mixed formation-schools, one in human rights and the other aimed at developing popular educators. The workshop on people in situation of unjust reclusion allows for guidance on what to do in case of being imprisoned for political reasons. The Committee has specialized in giving workshops and advising with regards to security, aimed at reducing the elevated risk with which now all of us engage in the defense of human rights.

Since more than a year back we have promoted, along with other organizations, the Campaña Nacional contra la Desaparición Forzada [National Campaign against Forced Dissapearance], an effort that yielded as a first result the manual Qué hacer en caso de desaparición forzada? [What to do in case of forced disappearance?], and for three months we have been working on the axis of Dirty War, impunity and human rights of the Permanent Peoples’ Tribunal, Chapter Mexico.

Women as well as men in our organization have faced threats, harassment and surveillance. Frankly, we have not generated a space to identify the specificities of how each of us is affected differently because of our gender, age or life history. What is certain is that all of us have lived moments of anguish, fear, uncertainty; it is not easy for any of us to live through all of this, and yet we have attempted to build a collective space where the affection that we have for each other weighs more heavily, and the respect amongst fellows, male and female, so that on that base we can build tools that allow us to better confront the constant adversity in the midst of which we develop our work.

We are inspired by other women, other struggles and other men to continue our path, we are convinced that Dignity, and the desire to fight for Justice, for Memory, and for Truth and Integral reparation of harm transcend nationality, race, and sex.

Thank You

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