• Press Release

Mexican indigenous environmental activist named prisoner of conscience

May 9, 2016

A Mexican man unfairly imprisoned in what appears to be a punishment for his peaceful activism against illegal logging must be released immediately and unconditionally, Amnesty International said as it named him a “prisoner of conscience.”

Ildefonso Zamora Baldomero was arrested in November 2015 in the Indigenous Tlahuica community of San Juan Atzingo, 80km south-west of Mexico City. He is accused of participating in a burglary in July 2012.

“Ildefonso Zamora is being punished for speaking out against the damage being done to his community’s territory and environment. He should have never been imprisoned in the first place and must be released immediately and unconditionally. Protecting the environment and defending human rights are not crimes,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

The burglary charges against Zamora are based on a series of fabricated testimonies. The prosecutor registered the testimonies of eyewitnesses who described the events using the exact same words as if reading them from a script, the crime scene was not preserved, and the evidence was not properly handled.

His arrest is part of a series of threats and harassment in relation to ahis anti-logging campaigns. In 2007, his son Aldo was murdered and his son Misael was injured in an attack which hasn’t yet been fully investigated.

Speaking from his prison cell, Zamora said: “I work to stop illegal logging, and that has cost me dearly: my son’s life and my freedom. I want to continue working for my community because illegal logging is destroying large parts of the planet earth.”

“Ildefonso’s story represents the way many human rights defenders and grassroots activists are treated all over Mexico. He must not be made to languish in jail for a second longer. Instead, the Mexican authorities should re-direct their efforts to find those responsible for the attacks and political persecution against him and his family,” said Guevara-Rosas.

Prisoners of conscience are people who have been detained because of their political, religious or other conscientiously held beliefs, or on the basis of their ethnic origin, sex, color, language, national or social origin, economic status, birth, sexual orientation or other status. It is a distinction Amnesty International only gives to individuals who have neither used nor advocated violence.