AI Urges Mexican Authorities to Protect Family of Murdered Human Rights Activist

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Wende Gozan Brown, wgozan@aiusa.org, 212-633-4247

AI Urges Mexican Authorities to Protect Family of Murdered Human Rights Activist

LONDON - Amnesty International today urged Mexican authorities to provide protection to the family of a murdered human rights activist, following the discovery of three of her dead relatives.

The bodies of Malena Reyes, Elías Reyes and Elías' wife, Luisa Ornelas, were found at a petrol station east of Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua state. The three, who were abducted by armed men on February 7, are relatives of activist Josefina Reyes, who was killed by unidentified gunmen in January 2010.

Her brother Rubén Reyes was also shot dead on August 18, 2010 while he was on his way to buy food near his home in Guadalupe Distrito Bravos.

“The Reyes family is clearly being targeted in the most brutal way, with five family members now dead. The Mexican authorities’ top priority must be to ensure the safety of other relatives,” said Susan Lee, Director of Amnesty International’s Americas program. “They must also launch a prompt and thorough investigation and bring to justice those responsible for the killings, which were apparently sparked by Josefina Reyes daring to speak out against the explosion of violence in Mexico.”

Malena Reyes, Elías Reyes and Luisa Ornelas were travelling in a truck with Sara Salazar - the mother of the Reyes siblings - and Josefina Reyes’ daughter when they were stopped by armed men two weeks ago. The armed group drove away with the three, leaving Sara Salazar and the young child at the side of the road in Guadalupe Distrito Bravos in the Valle de Juárez.

Sara Salazar has been campaigning for justice for the murder of Josefina and Rubén Reyes, but there has been no apparent progress in an investigation by Mexican authorities into their killings.

On February 15 an armed gang burned down the Reyes family home in Guadalupe using homemade petrol bombs.

“The authorities must consult the Reyes family and implement measures to protect them while they endure this violent persecution, or other relatives could also be at risk,” said Lee.

Josefina Reyes had been active in protests against violence in the area by criminal gangs and human rights violations committed by the military. In August 2009, she participated in a Forum on Militarization and Repression (Foro Contra la Militarización y la Represión) in Ciudad Juárez, to protest increasing human rights violations at the hands of members of the military.

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