12/07/14 (written by cissel) — The Mexican government has released 11 people who were detained at a November 20 protest in Mexico City amid condemnation from within Mexico and around the world. Mexican universities and international human rights groups, including Amnesty International, had spoken out strongly against the detention of the 11, who had faced “disproportionate” charges, including attempted murder and incitement to riot.
The 11 individuals—eight men, and three women—were arrested after a clash between protestors and police on November 20 at the Zócalo in central Mexico City, and were among a group of more than 20 people detained after masked demonstrators hurled objects at police at the protest. However, rather than being released after a few days in jail, which is often the case for protestors detained in Mexico, the 11 were transported to maximum-security prisons in the states of Veracruz and Nayarit and held on what have been called trumped up charges and faulty evidence, according to Amnesty International and others. Six of the detainees alleged at a November 30 news conference that they were beat and subject to psychological torture by police and interrogators, including threats of being raped and burned alive. Most of the 11 were likely participants in the protests, but one was a filmmaker, another a Chilean national, and several were simply bystanders at the scene. According to El Universal, the Mexico Attorney General’s Office (Procuraduría General de la República, PGR) had also stated that the charges of attempted murder and incitement to riot would not hold up in court.
The November 20 protest occurred within the context of wider unrest within Mexico, which was ignited by the disappearance of 43 students in late September in the town of Iguala, Guerrero. As Justice in Mexico previously noted, the disappearance of the 43 students, apparently at the hands of local police who had connections with a local drug gang and the mayor of Iguala and his wife, has sparked outrage and unrest across Mexico and demonstrations of solidarity from around the world. The Iguala case has further exposed the extent of corruption within the Mexican system and has led to protests calling for reform within Mexico and for those responsible for the disappearance of the 43 to be brought to justice. The seeming lack of response from the Mexican government has prompted strong criticism of Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto, who on November 27 announced a ten-point plan to combat corruption and curb violence within Mexico.