New acts of criminalisation against David Hernández Salazar, Binniza indigenous and land rights defender
We, the undersigned organisations, are deeply concerned about a new criminal proceeding against community defender David Hernández Salazar, a member of the indigenous Binniza community of Puente Madera, Oaxaca, and member of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defence of Land and Territory (APIIDTT). The Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation of Mexico filed a criminal complaint related to attacks on critical infrastructure (“ataques a la vías de comunicación”), and the human rights defender was notified on 18 October 2023.
David Hernández Salazar is a human rights defender and Community Municipal Agent in the area of Puente Madera, as well as a general coordinator of the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defence of Land and Territory (APIIDTT). Since 2017, he has actively worked to defend the right to the common use of lands in the territory known as El Pitayal, which were threatened by the extraction of petroleum in Cerro Igú and by the instalment of the National Defence Secretariat Electrical Substation (SEDENA). As a member of APIIDTT, he has represented the Binniza Indigenous Community of Puente Madera since 2021 in the defence of their territorial and self-determination rights against the threat of the instalment of one of the Industrial Parks, or “Polo de Desarrollo para el Bienestar” (PODEBI) of the Inter-Oceanic Corridor, in the lands of common use of San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca.
On 18 October 2023, human rights defender David Hernández Salazar was notified of the Investigation Folder FED/OAX/SC/0001589/2021, in which he faces charges related to attacks on critical infrastructure. The criminal complaint was filed by legal representatives of the Secretariat of Infrastructure, Communications and Transportation. In the above-mentioned letter notifying David Hernández Salazar of the complaint against him, the human rights defender is required to appear for the initial hearing to be held on 1 December 2023. To date, the human rights defender and his legal representatives have not received any further information about the facts to which this new proceeding refers to.
David Hernández Salazar is currently also facing another criminal proceeding as a result of a complaint which was filed by the Municipality of San Blas Atempa and private parties in the Isthmus in Tehuantepec, under Investigation File 4884/FIST/TEHUANTEPEC/2022, within Criminal Case 446/2022. His next hearing for the presentation of evidence and sentencing will take place on 7 November. This criminal case includes 17 arrest warrants against Binniza indigenous women and men from Puente Madera.
The Binniza indigenous community of Puente Madera, Oaxaca, began defending the lands of common use known as El Pitayal in March 2021, taking various legal actions to enforce the community's right to self-determination and autonomy. Additionally, human rights defender David Hernández Salazar has led protests against the instalment of the PODEBI on the lands of common use of San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca. In addition to the threats and attempts at criminalisation, state and private actors involved with the instalment of the PODEBI have also targeted the inhabitants of Puente Madera and members of APIIDTT with smear campaigns, harassment and threats.
During a Civilian Observation Mission which took place in July 2023, 23 local and international civil society organisations visited Puente Madera and denounced acts of criminalisation and defamation against 17 human rights defenders in Puente Madera for their human rights work against the threat of the instalment of the PODEBI of San Blas Atempa, Oaxaca, including the human rights defender David Hernández Salazar.
For this reason, the undersigned organisations urge the authorities of the Federal Government of Mexico and the State Government of Puebla to deliver and impart justice by:
- Dismissing the charges against David Hernández Salazar and against any member of the Puente Madera Community, Oaxaca.
- Guaranteeing the protection of the physical integrity, freedom, life and security of human rights defenders, and in particular that of Mr. David Hernández Salazar.
- Guaranteeing that members of the Puente Madera community and the Assembly of Indigenous Peoples of the Isthmus in Defence of Land and Territory are able to exercise their human rights at all times.