By: Rebecca Lichtenfeld, Posted: Mar 19 09
Update: On March 27, 2009, Peter Gabriel and WITNESS staff will be meeting with President Calderón of Mexico to deliver thousands of petitions urging him to increase their efforts to end the violence and murders of young women in Ciudad Juárez and Chihuahua.
In July 2003, the remains of Neyra Azucena Cervantes were found in Chihuahua, Mexico. Neyra had disappeared in May of that year and her family worked tirelessly searching for her. Her cousin David Meza had even traveled from Chiapas, one of the southernmost Mexican states, to help in the search. A week after her remains were discovered, David was arrested for her murder, and was tortured into giving a confession.
Next week, nearly six years after Neyra's murder, I am heading to Mexico City with my colleague Tamaryn Nelson, who coordinates our programs in Latin America and the Caribbean. We will be joining together with some amazing individuals and organizations to urge President Calderón of Mexico to resolve the disappearance and murder of Neyra and the cases of nearly 500 other murdered women on the Mexico/U.S. border. You can help us in this call for justice by signing this petition by the end of day Wed, March 26th - that's only 8 days away, so act now! - witness.org/dualinjustice.
We are working to secure a meeting with President Calderón on Friday March 27th, where Tamaryn and I will accompany WITNESS founder and musician Peter Gabriel, the actor Diego Luna, Saul Hernández of the legendary rock band Jaguares, as well as our partner organization in Mexico, the Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos (CMDPDH) and Amnesty International (AI), to deliver the petitions signed by so many of you from around the world, and to call for an end to the violence against women in Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua and across all of Mexico. Patricia Cervantes, Neyra's mother, will deliver the petitions by hand to the Mexican government. We are also organizing a huge press conference, so regardless of whether we can meet with the President, rest assured we're still going to make our voices heard.
Here's more of the back-story: WITNESS and the CMDPDH co-produced a video, "Dual Injustice," (2005) which tells the story of Neyra and her cousin David, who was tortured to confess to her murder. There was no evidence linking him to Neyra’s murder, yet David was in jail for nearly 3 years. Watch the video:
The video was an integral part of the campaign for his acquittal and he was eventually released in June 2006. Diego Luna has shown this video in Ambulante, his traveling film festival in Mexico and his production company CANANA held a fundraising event on this specific issue. Amnesty International USA presented the film at their Human Rights Film Festival and Jaguares included it on a DVD of their music videos, on their website and have screened it at shows throughout the country.
In the meantime, like I said, we only have 8 DAYS until we deliver the petitions on March 27th, so please add your voice by signing here: witness.org/dualinjustice and then ask 5 of your friends to sign it. If you've already signed it, ask 5 more friends to sign!
Stay tuned for updates that I'll send once we're in Mexico and wish us luck getting onto the President's agenda.
And thanks to all of you for supporting this campaign and the struggle for women's rights.