May 2014 marked the 8th anniversary of 11 women from the city of San Salvador Atenco who were mentally, physically and sexually tortured at the hands of local police. The survivors—Ana María, Italia, Claudia, Cristina, Edith, Mariana, María Patricia, Norma, Patricia, Gabriela and Yolanda—launched the campaign Breaking the Silence, All Together against Sexual Torture. For the past eight years the women of Atenco have fought tirelessly to denounce the injustices they faced in May 2006 and demand that Mexican authorities end the use of sexual torture as an investigative method. A number of other women with similar stories have joined the campaign, as well as the organizations that have accompanied their cases: Centro de Derechos Humanos Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez, Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña “Tlachinollan”, la Comisión Mexicana de Defensa y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos, and JASS Mesoamerica. On International Human Rights Day 2014, we share their stories:
Yecenia Armenta Graciano
On July 10, 2012 in the state of Sinaloa, Mexico, Yecenia Armenta was arrested by state investigative police and was subsequently subjected to physical, sexual and psychological torture. After 15 hours of torture, she was forced to confess to murdering her husband, who eight days before had died in unknown circumstances. For more than 2 years, Yecenia has been imprisoned in Culiacán, Sinaloa. We invite you to read, sign, send and share the attached letter urging the Third Federal District Judge of Sinaloa to resolve Yecenia’s case and order her immediate release. More information about Yecenia’s case.
Claudia Medina Tamariz
Claudia from the state of Veracruz, Mexico, was taken from her home in August 2012 by members of the Mexican Navy and held in a local naval base. For the next 36 hours, Claudia was subjected to threats, strangling, electric shocks and sexual torture by the Navy in order to incriminate her as a member of organized crime. Later, she was presented before the media with six other individuals. While she was interrogated in the Attorney General’s office, they told her they already knew she was the leader of a criminal group. Then she was released on bail. However, she continues to face false criminal accusations for weapons possession and organized crime. The only evidence against her comes from her torturers. The Attorney General’s Office has not investigated the acts of torture against Claudia. More information.
Miriam Isaura López Vargas
In February 2011, Miriam López, mother of four children, was unjustly arrested in Baja California, Mexico by military police. She was raped and tortured with electric shocks and strangled until she confessed that she was guilty and until she falsely accused others. In September 2011, she was released without charges. (No photo available for security purposes).
Miriam has had the courage to denounce what has happened to her, but no one has been held accountable. In September 2011, she denounced her aggressors for the crimes of torture, false imprisonment and rape. On December 14, 2011, an investigation (AP/PGR/FEVIMTRA-C/139/2011) was opened before the Special Prosecutor for Crimes of Violence against Women and Human Trafficking (FEVIMTRA). The criminal complaint also solicits protection measures for Miriam Isaura López Vargas because of the harassment she has faced since being released from prison. To date, those who perpetrated grave human rights violations against Miriam have not been apprehended. More information.
Verónica Razo Casales
Verónica was arbitrarily detained on June 8, 2011 by federal police in the Federal District of Mexico, a few streets from her home. During her detention, she was a victim of sexual violence. They moved her to the headquarters of the Federal Investigation Office (AFI) where she was tortured physically, sexually and psychologically (including electric shocks on her breasts and feet, punches and threats). One day later, they took her to the Assistant Attorney General’s Office for Special Investigations on Organized Crime (SEIDO) and waited for her to incriminate herself for the crime of kidnapping. Currently she is in the Federal Rehabilitation Center (Cefereso) #4 in Tepic, Nayarit. Verónica is waiting for a judgment that recognizes her innocence, restores her liberty and delivers justice. More information.
Belinda Garza Melo
Belinda joined this campaign to share that she is a victim of the war against organized crime. She was arbitrarily detained on July 15, 2007 in Torreón, Coahuila by the Federal Police (PFP) who tortured her physically, sexually and psychologically for more than 40 hours. Three months later she was presented in the media as a member of the Gulf Cartel. She regained her freedom on October 23, 2014 after more than seven years of unjust imprisonment in a maximum security prison in Tepic, Nayarit, facing unjust accusations of involvement with organized and drug-related crime. However, her innocence has not been recognized by the government.
Her voice is just one of many that have joined this campaign, demanding that her name be cleared and calling out for justice so that no more women have to live through sexual torture. More information.
Women of Atenco
On May 3 and 4, 2006, approximately 700 police officers from the Federal Police (PFP) and 1,815 municipal and state police agents carried out an operation in the towns of Texcoco and San Salvador Atenco in the State of Mexico, exercising brutal repression against activists and supporters of the Community Front in Defense of Land (FPDT), as well as people who were working or present in the area. In a grossly disproportionate use of force by police, hundreds of people were beaten and arbitrarily detained, including 47 women who, while being transported to a detention center, were subjected to sexual torture by the police. Eleven of those women took their case to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, searching for justice. After more than eight years, no public officials at any level have been punished for the repression and the acts of sexual torture committed against the women of Atenco. More information.