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    September 26, 2016

    By Kathy Price

    This commentary was first published on iPolitics 

    It was an unusual but defining image: two smiling heads of state jogging together across an Ottawa bridge in shorts and t-shirts.

    July 22, 2016

    By Kathy Price, Mexico campaigner at Amnesty International Canada

    They are bright and beautiful, they are eye-catching, and they carry a powerful message – a message of concern, solidarity and enormous caring. 

    Amnesty supporters in communities, big and small, from all across Canada are creating butterfly messages to make visible how they feel about a shocking epidemic of disappearances in Mexico, as well as threats to the safety of family members seeking the return of their loved ones.

    Monarch butterflies unite Mexico and Canada. Their annual life-giving migration across borders makes them the perfect symbol for Canadians to express our support for Mexican families courageously confronting an agonizing, hidden crisis.
     

    June 23, 2016
    Alex Neve, Amnesty International Canada's Secetary-General, documents the Mexico Defensoras Delegation's visit to Ottawa on the eve of the Three Amigos summit. They came with an urgent message for Prime Minister Trudeau, President Peña Nieto and President Obama: Don't sweep Mexico's grave human rights crisis under the carpet!    The Mexico Defensoras Delegation are: Claudia Medina Tamariz- Breaking the Silence about Sexual Torture, Rompiendo el Silencio Brenda Rangel Ortiz - Justice for the Disappeared, Desaparecidos Justicia CA Marta Sanchez - Mesoamerican Migrant Movement, Movimiento Migrante Mesoamericano Pilar Arrese Alcaca - Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Centre, Centro Prodh   DAY 1
    February 02, 2016

    By Kathy Price, Amnesty International Canada’s campaigner on Mexico

    Stéphane Dion has an important opportunity to set a new course for hemispheric diplomacy when he hosts his counterparts from Mexico and the United States at the North American Foreign Ministers meeting on Friday.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has already promised a leaders’ summit to reinvigorate the Three Amigos partnership. As the foreign ministers meet to lay the groundwork, a worsening human rights crisis in Mexico must figure prominently on the agenda.

    The dimensions of the crisis were made glaringly visible in September 2014, when police in the town of Iguala opened fire on buses carrying students from a rural teacher-training college. Three were killed and 43 other students were taken away, ‘disappearing’ into thin air. Their relatives and classmates have spent 16 agonizing months trying unsuccessfully to find the 43 amidst an official investigation so flawed as to provoke widespread allegations of a cover-up aimed at hiding the truth about what happened — and who was involved.

    December 09, 2015

    By Kathy Price, Mexico campaigner for Amnesty International Canada

    The hug, the smiling faces outside the barbed wire perimeter of El Hongo Prison, tell this latest good news story from Mexico!

    Adrián Vásquez is free from a nightmare of torture and unjust imprisonment – free, at last, to return to his wife Judith and their family.

    Adrián’s release came in the early morning of December 2nd, more than three years after he was picked up by police in Tijuana and tortured so badly that he required life-saving surgery. The 33-year-old bus driver and father of four was driving his car when police pulled him over, accused him of being a notorious drug trafficker driving a stolen vehicle.  Their “evidence” alone was used to charge and imprison Adrián for three anguished years while his trial was ongoing.

     

    Hours after Adrián’s release, there was more good news!

    November 12, 2015

    By Kathy Price, Mexico Campaigner at Amnesty International Canada

    My heart is aching for an unforgettable mother and sister who shared their story with me during an Amnesty Canada delegation to Mexico.

    I can well imagine the wrenching emotions they are feeling at this time of such traumatic importance for their family.

    It was this week, six years ago - on November 10, to be precise - when the unimaginable happened. Their loved one, a young man named Héctor Rangel Ortiz started the day with laughter, teasing his mother over breakfast. Later he phoned from a business trip to say he'd been stopped by police in the city of Monclova. His family would never see him again.

    “How I wish it was all a nightmare, a bad dream from which I could wake up,” Héctor’s sister Brenda posted on Facebook. “It's so painful not to know ... There are no words to describe it. Wherever you are Héctor, we send you love, light and hope.”

    October 27, 2015

    By Kathy Price, Mexico campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    There’s good news and bad news, as the old saying goes.

    The good news has names like Ángel Colón (left) and Claudia Medina (below right). Both of them were tortured by Mexican security forces to extract ‘confessions’ but ultimately released from that nightmare, the unjust charges against them dropped, after Amnesty supporters flooded authorities with messages of concern.

    There have been other promising developments since Amnesty issued a damning report in September 2014 entitled Out of Control: Torture and Other Ill-Treatment in Mexico.  

    October 06, 2015

    By HyunGu Kang, Amnesty International Canada Youth Leader

    On a sunny Sunday in late September, Amnesty Toronto’s Youth Leadership Council hosted our first public event in Toronto’s popular Kensington Market.

    On the one hand, we were terrified. This was the first time we’d be representing Amnesty to non-members, and we were eager to do a good job. On the other, we were resolved.

    It was one year since 43 students “disappeared” after being taken away by police in Mexico – one year in which authorities did far too little to find the missing students and seemed intent, instead, on a shameful cover-up. We knew this was unacceptable, and we wanted the public to know it, too.

    September 22, 2015
    43 – Students arrested and forcibly disappeared by police on 26 September 2014

    6 – People extrajudicially executed on the night of 26 September 2014 (three students and three by-standers).

    25 - People injured.

    42 – Students whose whereabouts are still unknown.

    1 – Student, 19-year-old Alexander Mora Venancio, was confirmed dead on 6 December 2014 after a DNA testing by experts from the University of Innsbruck who established that DNA taken from a piece of burned bone allegedly found in a river matched that of the student’s family.

    July 09, 2015

    By Kathy Price, Amnesty Canada's Mexico campaigner

    The long, sun-filled days of July are a time of joyful freedom for many of us in Canada, as we take a break from work or school to enjoy hanging out with friends and family. Not so for a young mother in Mexico called Yecenia Armenta.

    June 30, 2015
    AI Canada's Secretary General Alex Neve congratulates former prisoner of conscience and torture survivor Angel Amílcar Colón Quevedo after his inspiring speech at Amnesty's AGM

    By Kathy Price, Mexico Campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    I’m betting that no one who met Garifuna defender and former prisoner of conscience Angel Amílcar Colón Quevedo during his recent visit to Canada will forget his incredible smile or his inspiring words. I certainly won’t!

    June 18, 2015
    Kassidy Goyette, Tanis Moreland and Gail Klinck of Massey Vanier High School stand in solidarity with Hilda Legideño Vargas and her son Jorge Antonio, one of 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa

    By Kassidy Goyette, a student at Massey Vanier High School in Cowansville, Quebec.

    I would have never imagined that the petition created by our “small but mighty” Social Action Committee from Massey-Vanier High School would have such impact. It was amazing to have the opportunity to actually hand it over to Mexico’s Ambassador in Ottawa, see his reaction, and hear him say that he would ensure it reached the office of President Peña Nieto in Mexico.

    April 17, 2015

    By Alex Neve, Secretary General, Amnesty International Canada

    The tremendous news that three Mexican police officers have been criminally charged with torturing Adrián Vázquez in Tijuana in 2012 is a historic breakthrough; and a great day for justice.  It is obviously very welcome news for Adrián himself; and it can and must spur greater efforts across Mexico to ensure that those who have been responsible for the staggering crisis of torture the country has faced over the past decade are held accountable.

    February 18, 2015

    By Kathy Price, Mexico Campaigner for Amnesty International Canada

    The messages that arrived in my inbox could not be ignored! They were bursting with positive emotion as they told of an important victory over injustice in Mexico.

    The texts were sent by Claudia Medina, a woman whose experience of torture and persecution had so moved me and other members of an Amnesty Canada delegation that visited Mexico last September.

    When we met Claudia five months ago, she was living with the traumatic scars of what was done to her while she was detained at a naval base in 2012: the beatings, the hot peppers forced up her nose, the electric shocks, the sexual assault. Her torturers added psychological torture, threatening to rape her with a metal bar and bring in her children to the torture chamber unless Claudia “confessed” to involvement in an armed, criminal gang.

    Not surprisingly, Claudia signed the “confession” she was not allowed to read and hung her head as she was presented as a dangerous criminal at a press conference by security forces anxious to show results in its "war on drugs".

    February 12, 2015
    Claudia Medina with Amnesty activists from Canada holding a banner with solidarity messages. (c) Amnesty International

    By Mariano Machain, Amnesty International’s campaigner on Mexico.

    I have seen Claudia Medina cry many times.

    She cried when she told me about the torture, including sexual abuse, she suffered at the hands of Mexican marines in 2012. She also cried when she explained what it is like to live with federal charges pending over her head, accused of being a member of a criminal gang, facing the risk of being arrested again at any time. Then once more when she told me about how her children were suffering.

    But today is the first time I have seen her cry out of joy and relief. A judge has just dropped the last remaining charge against her, arguing that the sole piece of evidence – a report filed by the marines – is a lie.

    The judge confirmed that after her arrest Claudia was tortured and sexually assaulted by marines in order to force her to incriminate herself and others in drug-related crimes. The offences took place on 7 August 2012 at a Navy barracks in Veracruz state, Eastern Mexico.

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