30 Evangelical Protestants Expelled, Homes Destroyed in Mexico

Calls for Help Ignored by Government Officials

1/5/2016 Washington D.C., (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that 30 Evangelical Protestants in Chiapas, Mexico were expelled by local community leaders and saw their homes and property destroyed on January 4.  This incident continues a trend of hostilities against Protestants in rural Mexico and this village specifically.  Despite state and federal officials being notified of these illegal acts, the Mexican government continues to ignore pleas from Protestant villagers to enforce laws protecting their freedom of worship.

Jorge Lee Galindo, Director of Impulso 18, a human rights organization in Mexico City, explained to ICC that on the morning of January 4, armed villagers under the direction of various community leaders, destroyed the homes of Protestants in the village of Leyva Velazquez, located in the southern state of Chiapas.  Villagers then blocked most entrances into the town in an attempt to keep government officials from entering the village and to force the Protestants into fleeing into the nearby mountains, rather than seeking help from nearby villages.

This is the most recent incident of repeated persecution against Evangelical Protestants in Leyva Velazquez, as just last month seven were arbitrarily imprisoned by community leaders for refusing to renounce their faith.  Commissioner of the Community, Jimenez Hernandez, and the Municipal Agent, Francisco Jimenez Santiz of Leyva Velazquez, are believed to be the community leaders responsible for inciting the majority of violent acts against the Evangelical Protestant minority of the village. Despite these repeated illegal actions, state and federal government officials refuse to enforce laws protecting religious minorities or prosecute those responsible for their persecution.

This situation is indicative of a rising trend of persecution against religious minorities in rural Mexico.  In June of 2015, ICC estimated that more than 70 open cases of religious persecution against minority Christian communities, each involving between 20-100 victims, existed in the states of Chiapas, Hidalgo, Oaxaca, Puebla and Guerrero.

Isaac Six, ICC’s Advocacy Director, said, “We were absolutely horrified this morning to learn that less than three weeks after imprisoning seven members of their own community for their religious beliefs, the leaders of Leyva Velazquez decided last night to completely destroy the homes of this Protestant community and drive at least 30 men, women, and children into the wilderness. Where is the government of Mexico? Why is no action being taken to stop the perpetrators of such blatant and violent religious persecution? We know their names. We know where they are, as do the Mexican authorities, and yet still nothing is done. ICC condemns this latest act of destruction in the strongest terms and calls on the State of Chiapas and the federal authorities in Mexico City to immediately exercise their authority and fulfill their constitutionally mandated responsibility to protect in full the right to freedom of belief for the Protestant community of Leyva Velazquez.”

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