Sr. Gobernador Rutilio Escandón Cadenas, Governor of the State of Chiapas
Sra. Ministra Olga Sánchez Cordero, Minister of the Interior of Mexico
Sr. Juan José Zepeda Bermúdez, President of the State Commission for Human Rights of Chiapas
Sr. Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez, Undersecretary of Human Rights and Population, Ministry of the Interior (SEGOB)
July 6, 2021
Dear Sirs and Madame:
We are saddened and outraged at the assassination of Indigenous Tzeltal human rights defender Simón Pedro Pérez López, age 35, in the Los Bosques de Chiapas region of Chiapas State. At around 10:00am on July 5 he was shopping with his youngest son at the outdoor market in the center of Simojovel municipality when an attacker riding on a motorcycle shot him in the head.
For many years, Simón Pedro Pérez López served his community in the Altos de Chiapas region as a defender of human rights for the Maya Indigenous Tzeltal and Tzotzil peoples who reside there in the highlands. He often accompanied communities to denounce violence. Just nine days before his assassination, he accompanied residents to the Secretaría del Gobierno of Pantelhó municipality, requesting intervention to hold back armed groups who have been coming to the highlands for the past several years. Narco-traffickers have been extorting families and forcing some off their land.
Simón Pérez resided with his wife and four children in a community called Israelita in Simojovel municipality. He was a catechist at Santa Catarina Catholic Church in Pantelhó municipality. He was active with the civil society organization Las Abejas de Acteal. Last year he served as president of the board of directors of Las Abejas (The Bees), a Christian, pacifist, anti-neoliberal grassroots organization. The organization continues to seek justice for the Acteal Massacre of December 22, 1997; on that day, armed members of the paramilitary group Máscara Roja (Red Mask) entered a Catholic prayer meeting and murdered 45 Las Abejas members: 21 Indigenous Tzotzil women, 15 children, and 9 elderly people.
The harassment, disappearance, and killings of environmental and human rights defenders throughout Mexico is quite concerning. According to Red TDT (All Rights for Everyone Network ), 45 human rights defenders were killed in the first two years of the current government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador.
We strongly urge that you
- immediately, thoroughly and impartially investigate the assassination of Simón Pedro Pérez López, publish the results, and bring those responsible to justice
- adopt measures to guarantee the physical and psychological integrity of the members of Las Abejas de Acteal (including members of the family of Simón PedroPérez López ), in strict accordance with their wishes
- in consultation with members of Las Abejas de Acteal, take measures to dismantle criminal organizations that are operating in the Los Altos de Chiapas region
Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine L. Stonebraker Martínez