Campaña Latinoamericana por el Derecho a la Educación

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ICE and CLADE condemn the repression and abusive use of force by the Mexican government against teachers

June 21, 2016 

The Civil Society Advocacy for Education (ICE, by its Spanish acronym) in Mexico and the Latin American Campaign for the Right to Education (CLADE, by its Spanish acronym) strongly reject and condemn the repression and abusive use of force by the Mexican government against members of the National Coordination of Education Workers (CNTE, by its Spanish acronym), which took place on Sunday 19th. June in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca.

In recent years, the use of force and repression by the federal, state and local authorities has increased in Mexico, in response to public expressions of protest against actions of public authorities that are contrary to collective interests and demands.

On June 19, once again the Mexican authorities made use of extreme force to repress members of CNTE and citizens from different parts of the State of Oaxaca, who were rallying against the implementation of the Education Reform; in Nochixtlán, Oaxaca, people were killed and more than 100, both citizens and police officers, were injured and many were arrested.

The current confrontation between the government and the teachers' movement is due to a complex and questionable process of elaboration and adoption of the Education Reform, which took place without public debate. Under the premise of promoting quality education, this reform proposes a mandatory assessment of teachers to enter and remain in the education system and to have access to better salaries and positions. It focuses on administrative and labor issues that legitimize standardized assessment mechanisms based on individualism, competitiveness and penalization, disregarding a systemic and comprehensive approach to education in the country and thereby facilitating a power struggle that affects the quality of the education we want, from a holistic perspective based on human rights.

The criminalization of the teachers' protest in the State of Oaxaca, is not new; there have been incidents of teachers' repression and human rights violations in the past, particularly against members of Section 22 of the CNTE; in July 2015, the state government with support from the federal government dismantled the State Institute of Public Education in Oaxaca (IEEPO, by its Spanish acronym) preceded by a series of arrests of key teachers' leaders, seeking to suppress the teachers' movement and, hence, the Oaxacan and even the national social movement.

Today it happened in Oaxaca, but unfortunately the teachers' movement faces a similar situation in the states of Chiapas, Guerrero and Michoacan, among others, where every day police forces act with more repression; repression ranging from budget reductions; suspension of payments, incarceration of teachers and arrest of leaders and former leaders of the CNTE.

The intransigence of the federal government and the imposing and provocative attitude of the current Secretary of Education Aurelio Nuño Mayer are clear, as they refuse to establish a space of dialogue with members of the CNTE and to seek feasible and efficient solutions to the current teachers' conflict.

As citizens, we need to express rejection to any form of authoritarianism or state violence and recognize the human rights crisis that Mexico is currently going through. This is the only way to move forward to a peaceful settlement of this conflict and so many others besetting the country.

We express our solidarity with the teachers' movement and the relatives of victims who unfortunately lost their lives and of the injured and the detained.

We demand the Mexican state:

- To stop all repressive action against members of the teaching profession and their supporters; to respect, at all times, their right to demonstrate and express their views freely.

- To set up, as soon as possible, a space for dialogue between the federal government, the state governments and the members of the CNTE to identify and promote viable solutions to the conflict. It is necessary to put an end to confrontation and envisage the education we need to coexist and live in democracy in all parts of the country.

- To investigate the events, according to law and due process, and to punish the responsible for the killings, arbitrary detentions, torture and other human rights violations committed against the members of the teaching profession in Oaxaca.

- The release of those who were arrested unjustly and illegally by the mere fact of supporting the teachers' movement.

- To stop the media campaign against the teachers' movement that has a decisive influence on the opinion of the majority of the Mexican society.

We urge civil society to keep itself informed and follow up on the developments and to peacefully demand the federal government and state governments, to urgently cease hostilities against the teachers' movement and to set up, as soon as possible, a space for horizontal and constructive dialogue with teachers.