Yaqui Water Protector’s Car Fire Bombed
Article by Brenda Norrell
Mario Luna, spokesperson for Vicam Yaqui, was kidnapped and falsely imprisoned for one year after the Vicam Traditional Authority manned a highway blockade on Yaqui land to protest the theft of their water. Now, his partner’s car was fire bombed on June 27, at their home.
Just two days earlier, Mario was among the speakers at the Havasupai Gathering to Oppose Uranium Mining in the Grand Canyon.
Earlier, Vicam Yaqui manned the highway blockade for years, disrupting coastal truck transport in Sonora, to protest the theft of Yaqui water for an aqueduct for the City of Hermosillo, Mexico. Mario was kidnapped and falsely imprisoned as he served as a spokesman for Traditional Vicam Yaqui water protectors. Since his release from prison, he has presented their case to the United Nations.
Censored News provided live coverage from Vicam Pueblo of the Vicam Yaqui’s water struggle and blockade. Earlier, Zapatistas gathered at Vicam to show their support for water rights to Rio Yaqui and Indigenous rights here.
Amnesty International issued the following statement concerning the fire bombing of the car and the risks that Mario and his family face.
ASSAILANTS BURN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER’S CAR
Unidentified intruders entered the residence of Mario Luna Romero, leader of the Indigenous Yaqui community in Sonora state, northern Mexico, and set fire to his partner’s car. To date, no protection measures have been provided at the defender’s house and investigations are advancing slowly. Mario Luna and his family remain at risk.
In the morning of 27 June, Victoria Anahí Ochoa Domínguez, the wife of Mario Luna Romero, observed smoke rising from their garage and ran outside to find her vehicle on fire. A few hours later, when her husband arrived home from an overseas trip, he reported the incident to the federal Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders and Journalists, from which he receives protection measures as a defender of the Indigenous Yaqui community’s territory in Sonora state. Representatives of the Protection Mechanism assured him that state security police would promptly be sent, but the police never arrived. In turn, Mario Luna called the local investigative police who came to inspect the scene that same day. They found evidence of a glass bottle filled with gasoline and wrapped in cloth that had been thrown under the car, clearly signaling an intentional attack.
This is not the first time that Mario Luna and his family have faced security incidents. Anahí Ochoa told Amnesty International that in the weeks prior to the 27 June incident, unfamiliar vehicles were stationed outside of their home on repeated occasions. Mario Luna has carried out a number of activities in defense of collective rights of the Yaqui community, especially in relation to the right to water in light of the Independence Aqueduct, a project which could threaten the community’s access to water and cultural survival.
1) TAKE ACTION
Write a letter, send an email, call, fax or tweet:
Calling on authorities to urgently ensure effective implementation of the protection measures owing to Mario Luna and his family under the Mechanism for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders, especially regarding patrols by Sonora State Police and security cameras in his home;
Calling on them to ensure a prompt, impartial and exhaustive investigation into the incident of 27 June, especially in relation to forensic evidence including the analysis of fingerprints found on the burnt vehicle, to make the results public and to bring those responsible to justice;
Calling on them to urgently and publicly recognize the legitimate role of Mario Luna as a human rights defender in order to send the message that attacks against him and his family are unlawful.
Contact these two officials by 21 August, 2017:
Governor of the State of Sonora
Claudia Pavlovich Arellano
Palacio de Gobierno
Comonfort y Dr. Paliza S/N, Colonia Centenario
Hermosillo, Sonora, México, C.P. 83260
Contact form: http://www.sonora.gob.mx/contacto.html
Salutation: Dear Governor/ Estimada Señora Gobernadora
Ambassador Geronimo Gutierrez Fernandez
Embassy of Mexico
1911 Pennsylvania Ave. NW
Washington DC 20006
Phone: 1 202 728 1600
Twitter: @EmbamexEUA, @GERONIMO__GF
Salutation: Dear Ambassador
2) LET US KNOW YOU TOOK ACTION
PLEASE EMAIL UAN@AIUSA.ORG TO LET US KNOW YOU TOOK ACTION— PLEASE INCLUDE: THE UA NUMBER; CASE NAME AND COUNTRY; AND THE EXACT ACTIONS THAT YOU TOOK, E.G. “UA 166.17; IDIL ESER. TURKEY; 2 LETTERS; 1 CALL; 1 TWEET.”