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Versaín Velasco García


Versaín Velasco García is a human rights and land defender and peasant farmer from the Mayan Tzotzil indigenous peoples of Chiapas, Mexico. In the community of Nueva Palestina, municipality of Ocosingo, he has denounced numerous abuses of authority and violent events, including sexual abuse by the security forces, public denunciations related to organised crime and human trafficking, and murders.

Because of his human rights work, he and his family have been harassed by the authorities and threatened, and have survived an attempted lynching spearheaded by the authorities of Nueva Palestina. His family and four other families are currently forcibly displaced without their land and homes. The group, comprised of 34 people, including 23 minors, have been victims of violence, including sexual violence.

On 10 January 2022, Versaín was arrested at CERSS 16 in Ocosingo, Chiapas and unjustly accused of the murder of a community policeman.

Human rights defenders (HRDs) and journalists in Mexico are subject to intimidation, legal harassment, arbitrary detention, death threats, acts of physical aggression, enforced disappearances and killings as a result of their activities in defence of human rights and the exercise of freedom of expression and journalism.

Disappearances are endemic in Mexico, often happening with collusion from the state. HRDs working on the issue face serious risk, up to and including death. HRDs working in the defence of territory, particularly indigenous territory, face a similar level of risk. They are criminalised, imprisoned, defamed, and often killed. Journalists working on any of these issues, or issues related to the drugs trade and the government's complicity in this, also run the risk of losing their lives.