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Mexico: Indigenous rights defenders still at risk

    Friday, February 22, 2019 - 11:30

    Obtilia (left) responds with joy to messages of solidarity from Amnesty Canada supporters during a visit to Guerrero in 2009. 


    Armed men abducted Mexican Indigenous human rights defenders, Obtilia Eugenio Manuel and Hilario Cornelio Castro on 12 February 2019 in Guerrero state. Their captors released them on 16 February amidst an increasing national and international outcry over their disappearance. They will continue to be at risk until those responsible for the attack are brought to justice because they continue to carry on their human rights work.

    Both human rights defenders are members of the Organization of Indigenous Mepha'a People (OPIM, Organización del Pueblo Indígena Mepha'a). Obtilia Eugenio is a founder and leader of OPIM and a recognized human rights defender. Obtilia Eugenio is also an elected member of the Indigenous Municipal Council of Ayutla de los Libres, Guerrero state, in southern Mexico. She has received serious threats in the past due to her human rights work and is recipient of provisional measures ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights since 2009. So far, the protection provided by the Mexican government has been ineffective. 

    The authorities must implement protection measures on behalf of Obtilia Eugenio Manuel and Hilario Cornelio Castro, investigate their abduction and bring those responsible to justice.

    Please send a letter or tweet to the Minister of Interior.

    • Start with Dear Minister and a sentence about yourself to make your message unique.
    • Urge her to immediately take all necessary measures to guarantee the lives and safety of Obtilia Eugenio Manuel and Hilario Cornelio Castro so they can continue their work in defence of human rights without fear of reprisals.
    • Ask the minister to deliver a prompt, impartial and effective investigation into their abduction, bringing to justice anyone found to have been responsible.

    Write to

    Olga Sánchez Cordero
    Minister of Interior
    Calle Abraham González No. 48
    Col. Juárez, Cuauhtémoc
    Ciudad de México, C.P. 06600
    Twitter:     @SEGOB_mx   @M_OlgaSCordero
    Postage:    $2.65

    Please copy 

    His Excellency Arturo Hernández Basave 
    Chargé d’Affaires, Embassy of Mexico
    45 O'Connor Street, Suites 1000 & 1030
    Ottawa, Ontario K1P 1A4
    Fax:         613 235 9123
    Phone:        613 233 8988  or  613 233 9272
    Twitter:    @EmbaMexCan

    Héctor Astudillo Flores 
    Gobernador Constitucional del estado de Guerrero 
    Boulevard René Juárez Cisneros 62 
    Cd. de los servicios 
    Chilpancingo de los Bravo, C.P 39074 
    Estado de Guerrero, México 
    Twitter:     @HectorAstudillo  @Gob_Guerrero


    Additional information

    Human rights defenders and activists constantly face threats, intimidation and harassment in Mexico. A federal mechanism for protection of human rights defenders and journalists was established in 2012 but has failed to effectively protect them. 

    OPIM works for the protection of human rights of the Mepha'a Indigenous People, in Guerrero state and had participated in emblematic cases such as the case of Inés Fernández Ortega, who was subjected to torture by military personnel in Guerrero state in 2002 and whose case has decided by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights in a 2010-judgment condemning Mexico. 

    Members of OPIM have faced attacks and intimidation in past years and since 2009. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights ordered the Mexican state to provide Obtilia Eugenio Manuel, her family and other members of OPIM with effective protection measures and to investigate the attacks that same year. 

    Raúl Hernández, an OPIM activist, spent more than two years in prison on unsubstantiated charges. Amnesty International declared him a prisoner of conscience in 2008 and was eventually released on 30 August 2010 ( Four other activists were also imprisoned with him for 11 months until they were released.

    If you wish to receive updates on this case, email In the subject line, write “Keep me updated on Obtilia and Hilario”.