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Front Line Defenders

Defending human rights in Mexico

HRD Spotlight: Damián Gallardo Martínez

Damián Gallardo Martínez, an Ayuuk indigenous human rights defender and teacher from Oaxaca state in Mexico, has been arbitrarily detained for more than three years.

He was violently arrested in May 2013 without a warrant and held incommunicado for 30 hours. He was tortured and forced to sign a false confession. He wasn’t informed about the charges he was facing and during several days following his arrest he was not allowed to communicate with his lawyer.

During the detention he has been subjected to various acts of torture and ill treatment. He has been denied adequate medical and psychological diagnosis and care, which has produced irreversible consequences on his health. The ongoing penal process he is facing could result in a sentence of 75 years of imprisonment.

In November 2014, the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention issued an opinion holding the detention of Damián Gallardo Martínez to be arbitrary, and called for his immediate and unconditional release.

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About Damián Gallardo Martínez

Damian GallardoDamián Gallardo Martínez is a teacher who has worked to defend the rights of indigenous communities and the right to education in the Mixe and Zapoteca regions of the Oaxaca Hills. He has campaigned for educational reform in Mexico and was a member of the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca – APPO (Popular Assembly of the Towns of Oaxaca) in 2006.

Interview with Damian Gallardo's wife: "I will keep fighting until my husband is released"

Angelica Choc stands next to a sign that says “Adolfo Ich murdered by CGN. Mining is responsible.”  Photograph by Daniel Sosa
Oaxaca Protest
Damian Gallardo
20 September 2016
By Lorena Cotza

Yolanda Barranco Hernández will never forget the morning of 18 May 2013. It started with a loud noise. Seven men carrying heavy weapons broke down the door of her house. They were looking for her husband, Damián Gallardo Martínez. They didn't present any warrant. They said they were there to arrest him and they took him away.

Crackdown on Russian Civil Society
8 September 2016

In light of unprecedented attacks on human rights defenders, Andrew Anderson of Front Line Defenders argues for increased direct support to human rights defenders working at the local and national levels, flexibility in funding, and a greater focus on core, multi-year support.

Originally posted in the International Human Rights Funders Group (IHRFG) Blog


In nearly a decade of defending her community’s land and rivers from corporate destruction, Honduran woman Ms. Ana Mirian Romero has endured armed raids, physical assault, death threats, and personal defamation campaigns. On 10 June 2016, former President of Ireland, former United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, and President of the Mary Robinson Foundation - Climate Justice, Mrs. Mary Robinson, presented Ana Mirian with the 2016 Front Line Defenders Award.

22 February 2016

Dispatches 2015 highlights the challenges facing Front Line Defenders in providing fast and effective support to human rights defenders around the world, as the space in which HRDs can work safely continues to shrink.

31 March 2015

In April 2015 Front Line Defenders and Verso Books published La Lucha: The Story of Lucha Castro and Human Rights in Mexico - the first book in a series of nonfiction graphic novels. La Lucha features the real life stories of women human rights defenders (WHRDs) in northern Mexico who confront lethal challenges in order to promote human rights, justice and accountability.