• Fri. Oct 23rd, 2020

Crime victims, women activists take over human rights office in Mexico

MEXICO CITY — A group of crime victims and women activists have taken over the offices of Mexico’s governmental Human Rights Commission, leading to a stand-off Tuesday in which both sides expressed worries about rights violations.

The dozens of activists who seized the offices last week have refused to leave, and vow to turn the commission’s historic building in Mexico City’s colonial-era downtown into a shelter for victims. They said they took over the building because the government has been slow to protect or support women who have suffered abuse or help them find their missing loved ones.

Gender violence activist Yesenia Zamudio, standing beside an image of her 19-year-old daughter who was killed in 2016 in a suspected femicide, throws office supplies out a window at the National Human Rights Commission office in Mexico City Sept. 8, 2020.Rebecca Blackwell / AP

The activists have taken framed paintings of Mexican heroes from the building’s walls and defaced them with graffiti, drawing the ire of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador. They also emptied a freezer case of expensive steaks and displayed them, claiming they showed that rights officials enjoyed luxuries, something López Obrador has campaigned against.

The rights commission, for its part, has voiced concern about the safety of case files kept in the building. The names and locations of victims of rights abuses are contained in many files, and there are worries that revealing them could put those people in danger.

The commission is funded by the government but has a measure of independence. It can make recommendations to government agencies, which are usually followed.

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