Tuesday, 3 November 2009

150 farmers occupy UN office

SOME 150 indigenous farmers took over a UN office in the southeastern Mexican state of Chiapas to demand the release of three jailed leaders, reported AFB on October 31.

The Tzotzil Indians, who also sought "refuge as internally displaced persons" during Friday's move, took this "desperate measure to attract attention and secure the release of three comrades," the Emiliano Zapata Farmers' Organization (OCEZ) said in a statement.

The OCEZ is a land rights group inspired by Zapata, a key figure in the Mexican Revolution that broke out in 1910. The three prisoners were arrested last weekend by the police and army on charges of using the group for drug and arms trafficking.

Food and clothes were provided to the farmers who spent the night and still remain at the UN building in San Cristobal de las Casas.

Another OCEZ leader, Jose Manuel Hernandez, was arrested on September 30 for expropriation and property damage.

The farmers accuse the government of Chiapas, Mexico's poorest state where Zapatistas launched an armed rebellion in 1994, of seeking to "criminalize social struggle."

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