Mexico: Human rights defender´s body found
Arnulfo Cerón Soriano via Twitter
Authorities found the body of indigenous human rights defender Arnulfo Cerón Soriano on 20 November in a clandestine grave near the city of Tlapa, Guerrero state in western Mexico. He had been missing for 40 days.
Arnulfo was a member of the Popular Mountain Front and Movement for the Freedom of Political Prisoners of the State of Guerrero (MOLPEG). He disappeared on 11 October on his way to a meeting in Tlapa. Authorities must investigate his disappearance and death, holding those responsible to account, and must ensure the safety of Arnulfo´s family and organizations that support him.
During 2019, Arnulfo and members of MOLPEG had received threatening phone calls and messages relating to their activism work. Following the arrest of suspects in Arnulfo´s disappearance, family members received threatening messages. MOLPEG members noted strange persons outside their residences and the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre has observed unknown persons on watch outside their offices.
On 20 November, state authorities announced an investigation into the death, and the continuation of the investigation into Arnulfo´s disappearance. To ensure a robust enquiry, these investigations must take into consideration his work as a human rights defender.
Please send a fax, email, letter or tweet to the Governor of Guerrero State.
- Start with Dear Governor and a sentence about yourself to make your message unique.
- Express alarm at the discovery of the body of Arnulfo Cerón Soriano.
- Ask him to ensure that state authorities carry out an effective investigation into the disappearance and death of Arnulfo Cerón. Those found to be responsible must be brought to account.
- Urge him to guarantee the safety of MOLPEG members, family members of Arnulfo Cerón and staff of Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre.
Héctor Astudillo Flores
Governor of the State of Guerrero
Palacio de Gobierno
Boulevard René Juárez No. 62, Col. De los Servicios
Fax: 011 52 1 747 471 9801
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
His Excellency Juan José Ignacio Gómez Camacho
Ambassador for Mexico
45 O'Connor Street, Suites 1000 & 1030
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1A4
Fax: 613 235 9123
Phone: 613 233 8988 or 613 233 9272
The Honourable François-Philippe Champagne
Minister of Foreign Affairs
111 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Postage: None required
Fax: 613 996 9607
Phone: 613 992 5234
Alejandro Encinas Rodríguez, Undersecretary for Human Rights at the Ministry of the Interior
Arnulfo Cerón Soriano was an indigenous Nahua human rights defender who spent decades fighting for the rights of the indigenous population in various organizations and social movements in the mountainous region of the state of Guerrero. In 1995 he worked for 2 years in the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre. Subsequently, he worked as a private lawyer supporting the indigenous population in the area. In 2000, the international association against torture, ACAT, denounced the arbitrary detention and torture of Arnulfo Cerón by state investigative police. He was released after one and a half years in prison. Arnulfo was extremely active in the movement to demand justice for the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa.
According to information documented by the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre, Arnulfo Cerón Soriano left his home on Friday, 11 October 2019, at approximately 8:00pm. He was scheduled to give a talk at an Alcoholics Anonymous recovery centre, located in the Caltitlán neighbourhood of the city of Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero. He never arrived and his whereabouts were unknown from that moment on. On Saturday, 12 October, at around 12:00pm, the van he had been using appeared abandoned in another sector of the city. The keys were still in place. The family did not receive a ransom call.
State authorities were initially slow to activate search and investigations into the disappearance of Arnulfo, but they eventually detained two possible suspects, one on 23 October and one on 6 November. Federal authorities from the National Search Commission involved themselves in the search efforts from 12 November onwards.
The state of Guerrero is notorious for weak institutions and entrenched collusion between organized crime and security forces, both at a state and municipal level. Crimes of disappearance and killings of human rights defenders are shrouded in almost absolute impunity.
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