Dignity of the victims of gross human rights violations? Not in Mexico

Ayotzinapa victims

Ayotzinapa victims’ familiars ask for Truth, Justice and non Repetition Guarranties. Photo by Sarah Vandoorne.

Sarah Vandoorme, 25th March, 2015 – Yesterday, 24 March, 2015 we celebrated the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of the Victims. A very long title, but it is an important day after all. Especially now as tomorrow, we will celebrate the six months’ anniversary of the disappearance of 43 students from Ayotzinapa, Mexico. Now more than ever, the dignity of victims seems to be at stake in Latin America. And yes, all of us in Europe should be worried about that. We should stand up and take action, just like the parents of those 43 students.

The international day is set on the 24th of March. Not by coincidence, but because of another gross human rights violation. This time, the events took place in El Salvador, a small Central American country not too far from Mexico. Thirty five years ago, Archbishop Oscar Arnulfo Romero was killed because he stood up for what he believed in: peace and human rights.

Arnulfo Romero favoured the poor, not the soldiers who had placed his country under a military coup. For that reason, he was shot by a sniper during mass. Arnulfo Romero is considered a martyr and Pope Francis is even considering his beatification. His murderer, however, has never been brought to justice.

In more recent times, gross human rights violations have not ceased – on the contrary. In Ayotzinapa, Mexico, 43 students are missing since the 26th of September. The Mexican government has declared them dead, but the parents of the students do not agree with that verdict. They believe the Mexican government themselves is behind the disappearance. For that reason, two of the parents took a plane to Geneva, to testify and to make their point of view known to the United Nations.

The two parents, Bernabe Abraham and Hilda Legideño, passed through Brussels as well. There, as an intern for MO* Magazine, I was given the opportunity to speak with them.

Bernabe Abraham, father to Adán Abraham, and Hilda Legideño, mother of José Antonio Tizapa, talked about how they were not alone in this. That is what they wanted to show the Mexican government: that Europe is also interested in their story, and that they should continue looking instead of declaring their sons and daughters dead.

‘For months now, we have been looking for our children’, Abraham says. ‘In vain.’

‘What we want, is a new investigation – not by the government, but on the government. Mexican politics is shady; it’s a narcogobierno, funded entirely by drugs. Together, the government and the drug cartels have enough weapons to make people disappear. We will not stand for it. Therefore, we decided to visit Europe and seek the help we need to find our children.’

The UN Commission on Enforced Disappearances, which is part of OHCHR, listened to Abraham and Legideño’s story. They demanded the Mexican government to take action – not just to track down the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa, but also 20.000 more that are supposed to have gone missing in recent years.

Tomorrow, the disappearance of the 43 students will have happened exactly six months ago. Time to step up, be brave like the two parents, and take action. Not tomorrow, not the day after tomorrow, but today, on the International Day for the Right to the Truth Concerning Gross Human Rights Violations and for the Dignity of the Victims. Ayotzinapa lives!