Authorities in the southern Mexican state of Chiapas decided on Tuesday to keep 19 students from a rural teacher’s school in prison who were part of nearly a hundred students arrested last week when they participated in protests.
The young people and more than 70 of their classmates from the “Mactumactzá” Rural Normal School held a demonstration on a highway in Chiapas to demand, among other things, that the entrance exam to that school be face-to-face instead of virtual because most of the Applicants are indigenous and do not have access to the Internet.
The protest ended in riots and more than 90 students were arrested, transferred to a jail in the area and formally accused of “robbery with violence, damage, riot, attacks against the peace, physical and patrimonial integrity of the State community and gang activity.”
However, all the women were released on probation on Sunday shortly after the Mexico office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights raised concerns about alleged sexual abuse, mistreatment and alleged arbitrary detentions by state agents.
The precautionary measure meant that all of them agreed not to participate in new demonstrations or protests and to go and sign in prison until the judge decides whether to sentence them or release them.
The prosecution indicated on Sunday that the men would have the same fate, but on Tuesday a state judge decided to extend the preventive detention for 45 more days for the men in order to avoid new protests and disturbances at the end of the electoral campaign of facing the elections on June 6.
“This determination meets the spirit of the administration of justice in Chiapas, with strict adherence to their Human Rights, privileging the common good of all Chiapas,” said the judge in a statement.
The decision to grant conditional release to the women was due to the fact that the case was considered from a gender perspective, the magistrate explained in the press release.
For its part, the United Nations office requested an investigation of the events and that due process be guaranteed for all those accused.
“The information we have received is worrying and it is essential that the allegations of abuse are not ignored, but taken seriously and investigated diligently,” said Guillermo Fernández-Maldonado, representative of the United Nations office, on Sunday.
The normal schools are rural teachers’ schools that are attended by peasants and very poor people and are usually in the sights of the authorities because they have a very combative tradition and often lead protests, roadblocks or takeover of facilities that, on occasions, can lead to violent acts.