LA SIERRITA CAMP, Durango, Mexico, Oct. 26, 2012 /CNW/ - On Wednesday morning, Oct. 24, about 180 men, believed to be members of a company-friendly "protection union," forcefully destroyed a protest camp that had been maintained for three months by landowners of the Ejido La Sierrita and workers from the Local 309 of the National Mining Union outside the La Platosa silver mine.
The mine is operated by Canadian mining company Excellon Resources Inc.
The Ejido La Sierrita landowners and workers set up their protest camp in July to defend their human rights to land autonomy and freedom of association. The camp was located on private property of a third party with the explicit consent of the third-party landowners. No part of the camp was located on Excellon or Ejido property, the protesters said.
Accounts of the attack, with evidence including photographs and witness accounts, are being reported extensively in Mexican media.
Protesters who were at the camp Wednesday reported that the men who destroyed their camp had arrived at the site in several buses. Most of the men, who were armed with sticks and rocks, arrived from the neighbouring state Zacatecas, the protesters said.
The group of thugs moved into the camp with heavy machinery and destroyed and burned down the camp's temporary housing, protesters said. The protestors said they made repeated requests to federal and state officials to stop the aggressors, but officials who were present took no action to stop the destruction.
Following the camp's destruction a leader of the Mining Union Don Napoleón Gómez Sada, viewed by critics as a company-friendly protection union, condoned the attack.
The camp's destruction comes on the heels of another incident of aggression against Mexican human rights defenders opposing mining projects in the neighboring state of Chihuahua earlier this week. On Monday, a community leader, Ismael Solorio, and his wife were killed amidst the community's efforts to stop the installation of a mining facility on their land by a subsidiary of Canadian mining company Mag Silver.
"Despite the fact that La Sierrita was a community that said 'Yes' to mining and signed a mutual land contract with the company, Excellon has failed to comply with the agreement and refused to resolve the landowners' concerns," said Alejandra Ancheita, Executive Director of ProDESC (Proyecto de Derechos Económicos Sociales y Culturales), a non-governmental organization that advises the Ejido.
"Similarly, workers have been denied their rights to freedom of association and have been intimidated and pressured to not sign on to the democratically run Local 309 of the National Mining Union," Ancheita said.
"We urge the federal and state governments to ensure the physical integrity and safety of the protestors as they continue exercising their recognized right to protest and their efforts to resolve this unfortunate conflict."
SOURCE: Project on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ProDESC)
For further information:
Valeria Scorza, ProDESC (Proyecto de Derechos Económicos, Sociales y Culturales), Tel. 55-5212-2230, 55-5212-2229, 55-3334-6045, [email protected].
Zamora 169A, Col. Condesa
Del. Cuahtemoc, México D.F.