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Witnesses from Mexico will testify today to Parliament’s International Human Rights Subcommittee about the missing students of Ayotzinapa

    April 28, 2015

    (Ottawa, April 28, 2015) The mother of one of 46 students from a teacher-training college in the Mexican community of Ayotzinapa who were killed or forcibly disappeared during a September 2014 attack by Mexican police and gunmen will testify before Parliament’s Subcommittee on International Human Rights this afternoon, along with a surviving student and a lawyer for the families of the victims.

    Their goal is to make visible a disturbing pattern of grave abuses perpetrated by state security forces, and call for attention to serious failures on the part of government authorities to protect human rights in Mexico, a country that Canada has designated a so-called “safe country”.

    The members of the Mexican delegation who will testify to Canadian MPs are:

    • Hilda Legideño Vargas, whose son Jorge Antonio was forcibly disappeared in the September 2014 attack;

    • Jorge Luis Clemente Balbuena, a student leader at the Ayotzinapa teachers’ college;

    • Isidoro Vicario Aguilar, a Me’phaa indigenous lawyer with the Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre, an award-winning NGO that represents families affected by the September 2014 attack and a prior attack in December 2011, in which two other Ayotzinapa students were killed.

    The three witnesses will testify to members of the MP Sub-committee on International Human Rights from 1 to 2 PM on Tuesday, April 28, 2015.

    Their appearance before the Subcommittee follows a tour through BC, Ontario, and Quebec to raise awareness about the attack on the Ayotzinapa students and an ongoing climate of danger for those who speak up about human rights violations in Mexico.  The tour is supported by more than 50 organizations in Canada. For more information, see http://makemexicosafe.ca/ayotzinapa2ottawa/

    To arrange interviews, please call:
    Beth Berton-Hunter at Amnesty International: 416 363 9933 ext 332 
    Raul Burbano at Common Frontiers:  416 522 8615


    Background

    On September 26, 2014, Mexican police and gunmen attacked a group of students from a teachers’ college in Ayotzinapa, Guerrero state, killing 6 people and forcibly disappearing 43 others. The crime has become emblematic of an acute human rights crisis in Mexico. The families’ search for their loved ones has uncovered more than 15 mass graves in Guerrero, but none contain the bodies of the students.

    The Ayotzinapa disappearances are no isolated case. More than 25,000 people have been reported missing or forcibly disappeared in Mexico, half of them in the last two years alone, amidst repeated failures on the part of Mexican authorities to properly investigate, find the victims and bring the perpetrators to justice.

    Despite the human rights crisis in Mexico, Canada’s refugee system has deemed it a so-called “safe country”.  Canada has extensive commercial links to Mexico. In 2012, two way trade between Mexico and Canada totalled $20 billion. As a signatory to NAFTA, Mexico is Canada’s 5th largest export destination.

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