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Local Police Authorities in Chiapas State Refuse to Respond to Attack

10/20/2015Washington D.C., (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on October 15, local government officials and community leaders raided farmland in the remote village of Mariano Matamoros as part of an ongoing effort to expel a small Protestant Christian community from the region. According to ICC sources, 158 Christians in Mariano Matamoros, located in the state of Chiapas, were left almost entirely without food after the raid resulted in the theft of 6 hectares (approximately 15 acres) of crops from land owned by the Protestant Christian community.  

Since 2012, Protestant Christians in Mariano Matamoros have been the target of repeated attacks by local leaders or “community delegates” intent on forcing the Protestant community to “reconvert” to Catholicism or leave the village, according to local sources. Members of the Protestant community say that these incidents include the confiscation of property, physical attacks, and denial of access to public utilities. As recently as June 14, village leaders cut off water and sewage services to members of the Christian community.

 Rights groups in Mexico say that authorities at the State level in Chiapas have repeatedly refused to take action in the Mariana Matamoros case, despite being presented with evidence of illegal conduct. Requests by the local Protestant community for compensation for stolen goods and destruction of property have also been ignored.

Luis Herrera, director of the Coordination of Council of Christian Organizations, said, “The recent act of aggression by local government officials against the Christian community is yet another example of how unstable the state (Chiapas) is in regards to the religious freedom of minorities.” According to Mr. Herrera, local authorities refuse to investigate the case. The October 15 raid has left more than two dozen families, including more than 40 children, without adequate food to survive over the next few months. Aid groups, including International Christian Concern and the Coordination of Council of Churches are working to deliver critical food aid to the community.

Isaac Six, ICC’s Advocacy Director, said “This latest incident in Chiapas is emblematic of a pervasive climate of religious intolerance that is strangling the life out of rural communities across Mexico. Perhaps the worst part is that this is happening in almost complete obscurity. Officials at every level of the Mexican government have either been ignorant of or willfully turned a blind eye towards religiously based attacks that clearly violate Mexico’s own Constitution and international human rights norms. These attacks have also left hundreds homeless and thousands more without access to basic necessities like food, shelter, and education, simply because some communities refuse to conform to the religious beliefs of the majority. ICC is calling on federal authorities in Mexico to immediately take action to assist the victims of this incident in Mariano Matamoros and for the international community to hold Mexico accountable for these human rights violations. No man, woman, or child should be forced to go to bed at night starving simply because of their religious convictions. This must end now.” 

For interviews, please contact Isaac Six at [email protected]

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