Indigenous Peoples and Human Rights

April 24, 2015

Yaqui Water Rights Defenders Denied Release from Prison

Vicam Yaqui Water Rights Spokesman Imprisoned since Fall of 2014 Were Not Released

Rights Violated! Judge Orders Release of Jailed Indigenous Activist in Mexico Yaqui Tribe spokesman, Fernando Jimenez, in April. Mario Luna was ordered released in January.

Update May 12, 2015
Mexican officials used legal tactics to keep both Yaqui water rights defenders in jail for more months. It is unknown when they will be released.

Article by TeleSur TV
Photo on right: Water Rights Forum in Vicam, Sonora, by Brenda Norrell
Detained Yaqui Tribe leader and activist, Fernando Jimenez, recieved a favorable decision due to lack of evidence. A third circuit judge has issued an injunction in favor of Yaqui indigenous tribe spokesman, Fernando Jimenez, ordering the release of the jailed indigenous rights activist for lack of evidence against him. Jimenez, who has been imprisoned since September 23, 2014, was detained in the northern state of Sonora amid the context of the Yaqui Tribe’s protests in defense of the Yaqui River. According to the Mexican Center for Environmental Law (Cemda), which made the information public, the judge’s ruling, on Tuesday, represents the states participation in violating Jimenez’s human rights for ordering his imprisonment without due process. Jimenez was arrested only days after Mario Luna, another prominent spokesman and activist of the Yaqui Tribe, was detained under the same circumstances. The two are accused of illegal deprivation of liberty and carjacking, after members of the Yaqui Tribe stopped a man who attempted to drive into their protest roadblock. In January, Luna also received a favorable court order for his release stipulating that at the time of Luna’s consignment to prison the state neglected to admit the defense’s evidence. Both Luna and Jimenez have led the Yaqui Tribe’s protests since 2010 against a state-sponsored mega aqueduct project that pumps water from the Yaqui River to urban centers such the Sonora state capital, Hermosillo. The 172 km long project transports more than 60 million cubic meters of water per year from the Novillo dam, which is fed by the Yaqui River, to supply Hermosillo and the large agroindustry in the region. The project openly violates a 1940 presidential decree by then president Lazaro Cardenas, which guarantees that at least 50 percent of the water from the Yaqui River pertains to the Yaqui Tribe.

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