by Madeleine Stone
This term York PEN will be campaigning on behalf of the 43 missing students from Ayotzinapa, demanding an investigation into their murder that is free from corruption.
On the 26th September 2015, almost exactly a year ago, students from Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers’ College, Mexico were on their way to a peaceful protest in Mexico City. The students had been ordered to attend an annual march in Mexico City to commemorate the Tlatelolco Massacre of 2 October 1968, in which hundreds of unarmed Mexicans, mostly student protesters, were murdered by the police force. Coming from a college with a history of social action, which had produced important guerrilla leaders such as Genaro Vázquez Rojas, the students planned to peacefully protest against this march. They commandeered a bus, a practise which they regularly did with the permission of the local drivers but never made it to Mexico City. Instead, surviving students claim that police blocked their route and opened fire on the students multiple times, killing 43.
But official reports denied this, claiming it was the work of a local gang, Guerreros Unidos. In January 2015, the former Attorney General of the Republic of Mexico, Jesús Murillo Karam, announced that the students had been murdered by the drug trafficking gang and their bodies incinerated at a nearby rubbish tip, with their ashes thrown in the river. Claims of corruption, which is rife in Mexico, led to an independent international investigation, which found several flaws in the original findings, concluding that the student’s bodies could not have been burnt at the rubbish tip as the government maintained.
A year later, there is still no justice for the families and communities of the students who were exercising their right to peacefully protest. York PEN joins the English PEN campaign to discover the location of the missing students and encourage an end to corruption and impunity in the Mexican government. This term we will be discussing, petitioning and holding events to highlight this cause.
“The Mexico of the armed forces is afraid of those who teach literacy, because a literate country is one that can demand and denounce. A literate country can be disobedient.” – Juan Villoro, El Pais, 2014