Washington, D.C.—Today, Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto will meet with the families of the 43 students who were forcibly disappeared in the state of Guerrero, just as Mexico prepares to mark the anniversary of the brutal September 26, 2014 attacks in which six other people were killed and over 40 were injured. One year after these events, the Mexican government’s investigation into the tragedy and its treatment of the victims of the attacks and their families have been gravely flawed, according to the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA).
“The Mexican government’s failure to clarify even basic details of these tragic events, and to provide assistance to all of the victims and families still seeking answers, is utterly unacceptable,” said WOLA Senior Associate for Mexico Maureen Meyer. “Everyone deserves to know the truth about what happened that evening and to see those responsible be brought to justice,” she stated.
As WOLA has highlighted in an analysis of a groundbreaking report by the group of experts named by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to provide technical assistance in the investigation of this case—the Interdisciplinary Group of Independent Experts (Grupo Interdisciplinario de Expertos y Expertas Independientes)—witness and survivor testimonies illustrate the massive, prolonged, and coordinated nature of the attacks carried out by police on September 26, 2014. “The 43 disappeared students are not the only victims. Many of the disappeared students’ classmates, as well as bystanders, a youth soccer team, and teachers who came to the students’ aid, were also attacked that night. Some were killed and several were hospitalized—one student remains in a coma—yet no one has been held accountable,” said Meyer.
In the report, the Experts also present evidence that directly disproves the Mexican government’s official version of what happened to the disappeared students. They conclude that there is no scientific evidence to substantiate the government’s assertion that the disappeared students were cremated at a trash dump.
“If the Mexican government truly wants to support the victims and their relatives then it must commit to clarifying this case,” said Meyer. “This means reversing the course of the investigation and appointing a new team of investigators to work with the Experts that is not set on defending a theory that is impossible to substantiate. It also means investigating those who obstructed the initial investigation and the security forces who failed to come to the students’ aid.”
WOLA will continue to closely monitor the Mexican government’s handling of the investigation, which will serve as a clear indicator of whether it is truly committed to combatting the impunity that prevails for human rights violations in the country.
WOLA Director of Communications