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PBI Mexico: Ten years accompanying the Cerezo Committee

Wednesday 12 September 2012, by Comité Cerezo México

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The Cerezo Committee celebrated its 11th anniversary on August 13th, during the last ten years of which they have received PBI accompaniment. Since its foundation, the Committee has received 13 death threats and continued harassment. Stigmatization has closed many doors for them, especially during the early years. PBI celebrates the Cerezo Committee’s anniversary and applauds and support the work of Committee members in favor of human rights in Mexico.

The anniversary celebration, "XI years accompanying the people’s struggle. Because being a human rights defender is not synonymous with being a terrorist” was held at the Centro Cultural Universitario of the Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). Among other activities, the Cerezo Committee presented its latest report: "The victims of the configuration of a terrorist state", which covers violations against defenders of human rights in Mexico. According to statistics cited in the report, there were 353 violations in 20 Mexican states from January 2011 until May 2012.

In recent years, the Cerezo Committee has worked on documenting attacks on human rights defenders in Mexico as well as in identifying patterns of social repression. "The Committee’s work is an important reference for the historical memory of what we are living (...). In a context in which we do not know what is happening, the Committee seeks certainties. We witness their discipline, commitment and solidarity," said David Bermudez, director of Services and Advice for Peace (Serapaz) during the event. Another important aspect of their work is providing support for the promotion of protection for human rights defenders. The Committee has an extensive program of security workshops for organizations and social movements.

"For many years we do not know no peace in our country" [1]

The Committee has another reason to celebrate: the first of September, human rights defender Alejandro Cerezo Contreras and the Cerezo Committee received the International Peace Award of Aachen in Germany [2] Despite international recognition of the work of the Cerezo Committee, its members are still stigmatized. On August 30, when Alejandro Cerezo was going to board the plane at the Mexico City International Airport, the airline did not allow him board his flight, which has a stop over in Amsterdam, for security reasons. Apparently, the defender was on a United States government “No Fly” list, which prohibited him from flying over US territory and he was therefor not authorized to board the aircraft. It was fortunately resolved after two hours and an inspect of his luggage by federal police.

Accompanied by Protection International, Alejandro Cerezo explained the risk faced by Mexican defenders to members of the European Commission and the European External Action Service in Brussels. Alejandro and his brother Antonio are currently in Germany where, in addition to receiving the award, they met with members of parliament and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Among other public events, on September 10 they talked about their work at the Center for Research and Documentation Chile-Latin America in Berlin. Tomorrow, September 13, Antonio and Alejandro Cerezo will be in Hamburg.

More information

The Cerezo Committee Mexico emerged on August 13th, 2001 following the detention of brothers Alejandro, Hector and Antonio Cerezo Contreras and Pablo Alvarado Flores and Sergio Galicia Max, in High Security prisons in Mexico.

Because of the detention and efforts by siblings Francisco and Emiliana Cerezo Contreras to demand their freedom, Cerezo Committee members were victims of multiple episodes of harassment and threats. After receiving the request for accompaniment, PBI began to provide protection to Francisco and Emiliana in 2002. PBI was one of the first organizations to recognize and support the work of the Cerezo Committee.

Alejandro Cerezo was exonerated and released in March 2005 and on February 16, 2009 Hector and Antonio Cerezo were released after serving their sentences.

View online : PBI Mexico: Ten years accompanying the Cerezo Committee

[1Francisco Cerezo Contreras, Cerezo Committee Coordinator, at the launch of the report "The victims of the configuration of a terrorist state" on August 29, 2012.

[2The International Peace Prize of Aachen is awarded since 1988 to individuals who have excelled in their commitment to peace and understanding between peoples. It is awarded each year on September 1, the "day against war." The award is supported by approximately 50 church, political, trade union and civil organizations, as well as 350 individuals gathered around the Association of International Peace Prize of Aachen.

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