Ikoots women and men engaging in the defense of their territory are beset by heightened violence after an armed group opened fire on them last Saturday night, May 2nd. The attack that took place in San Mateo del Mar, Oaxaca, was aimed at the townspeople of the Huazantlán del Río community, who had established a highway checkpoint as a means of public health control to avoid the propagation of Covid-19.
Automobiles and houses were burned, and townspeople, including community authorities, were tortured and held captive during the spate of violence. The acting authority of Huazantlán del Río was killed during the attack, and the psychological impact on the town’s women and children was strong.
For 10 years, San Mateo del Mar has resisted the construction of a wind farm in their territory and as a result, the townspeople and community authorities have been subjected to constant aggression.
The events of May 2nd could lead to an escalation of violence, especially given a number of reports in social networks that hold the community responsible for the violence, thereby placing the Ikoots women defenders in an alarming risk situation.
We of the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Mexico and IM-Defensoras express our concern for the life and safety of the Ikoots territorial defenders, both women and men. We call for an end to the violence and demand that national and Oaxacan authorities guarantee the effective protection of the Ikoots people with full respect for their autonomy.