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Mexico: CSW finds “ongoing and systematic” religious freedom violations in Chiapas

ICC Note:

In Chiapas, Mexico, violations of religious freedom are systematic, ongoing, and on the rise. Religious minorities are targeted by community leaders, and government inaction offers little relief. We stand with CSW, who has recently issued a report, urging the governments of Mexico and Chiapas to address these long-standing and serious infringements on religious liberty.

5/19/2014 Mexico (CSW) Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has obtained firsthand evidence of ongoing and systematic large-scale violations of religious freedom in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, following a fact-finding assignment to the area.

During the visit, CSW met with communities which had been forcibly displaced from their homes because of their refusal to recant their faith. Two of the communities, from the villages of Los Llanos and Chilil, have been waiting for four and five years respectively for government action on their cases. CSW also met with elected and appointed government officials, academics, Protestant and Catholic Church leaders, and local activists, who all agreed that religious freedom violations are on the rise and that government inaction on this issue is largely to blame.

Serious violations of religious freedom targeting religious minorities have occurred on a widespread scale in Chiapas since the 1970s. According to CSW’s findings, typically in these cases the local authorities proclaim their village or municipality to be exclusive to one particular religion, prohibit the entry of members of other faiths, make participation in activities related to the ‘official’ religion compulsory and attempt to force inhabitants who practice other faiths to convert to the declared ‘official’ religion.

According to the report, “…members of minority religious groups are systematically targeted by the authorities for the deprivation of services including water and electricity, arbitrary detention, acts of violence and finally forced displacement.” Those responsible for these violations rarely, if ever, face criminal charges.

Andy Dipper, Chief Operating Officer, at CSW said, “…It is unacceptable that the displaced men, women and children of Los Llanos, Chilil and many other communities have been forced to wait in limbo for almost half a decade, while those responsible for committing the crimes against them remain in their homes and in leadership positions in their communities with complete impunity. It is past time for the Mexican government to address the religious freedom violations taking place in Chiapas and we call on them to do so, in collaboration with the government of Chiapas, as a matter of urgency.”

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