11 Nobel winners call for release of Mexico Atenco prisoners

MEXICO CITY - Eleven Nobel Peace Prize winners asked Mexico's president to release 12 people sentenced to 30 years in jail after violent clashes with police four years ago, in a letter published Thursday.
The signatories of the letter included South Africans Archbishop Desmond Tutu and former president F.W. de Klerk, Guatemalan Rigoberta Menchu, Iranian Shirin Ebadi and Kenyan Wangari Maathai.

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
The prisoners were among more than 200 people arrested during clashes with police in May, 2006, in the village of San Salvador Atenco, in central Mexico, in which two civilians died.
The Nobel winners asked President Felipe Calderon to "free the 12 political prisoners, overturn their sentences and cancel their arrest warrants."
It said they had been tortured, held without warrants and sentenced without proof.
They also called for an inquiry into accusations from 50 women that they were raped by police during the operation, which involved some 2,000 officers.
Tensions escalated in Atenco after police attempted to relocate flower vendors from near a market.
Locals resisted, blocked roads and detained 11 police officers.
Mexico's Supreme Court last year ruled that there had been serious rights violations during the Atenco clampdown, but it did not condemn the perpetrators.

Friday, February 26th 2010

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