Three young members of the Indigenous Rights Defense Committee, Codedi-Xanic, were killed Monday night as they returned home from a meeting with local authorities in Oaxaca City.
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Abraham Ramirez Vasquez was driving the van back home in the southern mountains of the state of Oaxaca when armed men suddenly started shooting at them. Abraham was the only survivor and the names of those murdered have not been made public for respect to mourning families.
The attack happened near the Metate Mountain, in Miahuatlan, around 10:30 p.m. local time.
A press release by Codedi-Xanica said the activists attended a meeting with the governor of Oaxaca, Alejandro Murat Hinojosa, who called them to discuss issues regarding internal political processes in Santiago Xanica, where Ramirez is from. They left the city at 7 p.m. local time heading toward Oaxaca’s coastline when they were ambushed by armed men near the Metate Mountain over three hours later.
The survivor said the hitmen were driving a green truck, were heavily armed and looked like ministerial police force.
Codedi-Xanica is an autonomous Indigenous organization working for human rights in Oaxaca, a southern state in Mexico, with a presence in over 50 communities for “autonomy on a daily basis.” It has been active for more than 20 years and is the target of continuous attacks by hitmen and official authorities. Ramirez, an Indigenous Zapotec, is one of the founding members and most prominent leaders of the organization.
In January 2005, members of Codedi-Xanica were in a meeting when they were attacked by Oaxaca’s state preventive police. Some of them died and others were severely injured. Ramirez and other two activists, Noel Garcia Cruz and Juventino Garcia Cruz, survived to the attack and were arrested in the San Pedro Pochutla hospital, where they were treated for their wounds.
They spent years in jail after being accused of ambushing a police group and killing one of them, claims the activists denied. After years of campaigning for their freedom, the Garcia Cruz brothers were released on 2010, while Ramirez had to wait one more year.
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The organization is also a member of other networks of organizations, such a the Zapatista Magonist Alliance, AMZ, the Anti-Neoliberal Popular Magonist Oaxacan Coordinator, Compa, and the Indigenous National Congress, CNI. They are also adherents to La Sexta, the network of social groups that support the National Liberation Zapatista Army, known as the EZLN.
Codedi has blamed Oaxaca Governor Alejandro Murat and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto for the aforementioned murder.
The Colmena Oaxaca political organization denounced the attack, considering it part of an “extermination campaign” from the government towards Indigenous activists and communities. They said this includes harassment of CNI members, the murder of environmental activist Guadalupe Campanur in Cheran and the murder and kidnapping of several communal police in Guerrero, among other cases.
“These are not isolated cases … we know they react this way because they are afraid, because we’re more and are better organized every time and we won’t cooperate with the destruction of our mother earth,” Colmena said in a press release.
The CNI also expressed their solidarity with the organization and the victims.