Sharing Statement of Mexican WHR Defender Silvia Perez Yescas

For 30 years, MADRE has supported Indigenous women from different regions at the forefront of wars, discrimination, and extreme poverty, working hand-in-hand with women and families to bring solutions to their communities. MADRE provides strategic support for Indigenous women activists to be present and visible to international governing bodies, helping to bring their demands to the international arena. 

For this year’s 12th session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues, MADRE, in partnership with Rosa Luxemburg Stiftung – NYC Office had the privilege of facilitating the participation of our sisters from Latin America and Africa. 

I wanted to take this opportunity to share a statement of courage and resilience that I heard from Silvia Perez Yescas, an Indigenous leader and a woman human rights defender from Oaxaca, Mexico, a place where the lives of women human rights defenders are at a high risk. She was in New York to deliver this statement at the official session of the Forum and had the chance to meet with the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, James Anaya.  
Silvia Perez Yescas and Dali Angel from Oaxaca Mexico with James Anaya, special rapporteur on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.
Silvia Perez Yescas and Dali Angel from Oaxaca Mexico with James Anaya, special rapporteur on the Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

We at MADRE are proud of this continuing work to bring the voices of Indigenous women forward to influence key decision-making bodies. 

Twelfth Session of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues

Mayo, 2013

Thank you very much Mr. President.

My name is Silvia Perez Yescas, I am a Zapoteca Indigenous woman, representing CIARENA,
an organization of Indigenous Women.

I would like to share with you the difficult situation that we, indigenous human rights
defenders, are facing in the state of Oaxaca in Mexico.

All over Mexico, there has been an alarming increase of violence against Human Rights
Defenders. In Oaxaca, over 20 women have been murdered recently. The State of Oaxaca
holds the first place in the country when it comes to violence against Human Rights
Defenders. This violence has been minimized and has become invisible because of the
country’s context of impunity, violence and the criminalization of social protest.

Most of us, indigenous women human rights defenders, are living under persecution, death
threats and forced displacement from our communities.

We, the defenders, are suffering under these situations because we are denouncing and
raising awareness on the violence that indigenous women and girls are facing, such as
forced prostitution, the plunder of our land and territories, our sacred places, our lakes, our
sea. We are facing violence from the extractive industries, for example, the construction of
windmill generators in the region of the Isthmus of Tehuantec Oaxaca.

Nowadays, the indigenous defenders are facing persecution, harassment and death threats.
Like some of my sisters, I was personally attacked on January 16, 2013. There are so many
more of us in this situation, like Reyna Luis, Betina Cruz, Rogelia Gonzalez Ruiz, Evit
Estrada, and many others in the State of Oaxaca in Mexico.

I would like to call upon the help and support from the international community here at the
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues so that you can pay special attention to the
situation of indigenous human rights defenders in the State of Oaxaca and in the Republic
of Mexico.Therefore, we make the following recommendations:

1. Investigate the murders and attacks against the indigenous women defenders and
guarantee that the relevant authorities punish the perpetrators according to the laws.

2. Guarantee access to justice and to effective measures of protection for the families of the
defenders who have been victims of forced disappearances; femicide; organized crime
violence; attacks from the army, paramilitary groups, parapolice groups, corporations, and

3. Implement a complete analysis of the weaknesses in the implementation of the
precautionary measures granted by relevant national organizations and the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights (IACHR). This analysis should include a gender perspective
as well as an intercultural perspective, with the participation of indigenous women human
rights defenders.

4. Implement prevention and protection protocols, which include gender and intercultural
emphasis, in each and every single States of the Republic of Mexico.

The international community, the Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the
Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues must stand firmly to guarantee the comprehensive
security of the indigenous women human rights defenders.

Today, through this statement, I am here to testify on the violence against us. Our
indigenous women defenders have been killed, have disappeared and been raped. How
much longer should we wait until the international community reacts?

Thank you very much.

Silvia Perez Yescas
Oaxaca, Mexico



12va Sesión del Foro Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas
de las Naciones Unidas

Mayo, 2013

Muchas gracias hermano Presidente

Soy Silvia Perez Yescas, Indígena Zapoteca de la organización de mujeres indígenas

Quiero compartirles la grave situación que estamos viviendo las defensoras
indígenas del Estado de Oaxaca, México.

En todo México hay un alarmante aumento de la violencia contra las defensoras de
Derechos Humanos. En Oaxaca hay actualmente más de 20 mujeres asesinadas. El
Estado de Oaxaca ocupa el primer lugar de violencia en el país contra defensoras de
derechos humanos. Esta violencia es invisibilizada y desestimada en un contexto de
impunidad, violencia y criminalización de la protesta social que vive el país.

La mayoría de nosotras, las defensoras indígenas, estamos viviendo persecución,
amenazas de muerte y desplazamiento forzado de nuestras comunidades.

Las defensoras sufrimos estas situaciones por denunciar y hacer visible las
situaciones de violencia que vivimos las mujeres y las niñas indígenas como la
prostitución forzada, el despojo de nuestras tierras y territorios, nuestros lugares
sagrados, nuestras lagunas, nuestro mar. Enfrentamos la violencia de las empresas
extractivas, por ejemplo, la construcción de Generadores Eólicos impuestos en la
región del Istmo de Tehuantec Oaxaca.

Hoy en día las defensoras indígenas sufrimos persecución, hostigamiento y
amenazas de muerte. Como los casos de algunas hermanas y en mi caso personal
sufrí un atentado el día 16 de Enero del 2013. Pero somos muchas mas comos son:
Reyna Luis, Betina Cruz, Rogelia Gonzáles Ruiz, Evit Estrada y varias hermanas mas
en el Estado de Oaxaca, México.

Quiero solicitar el apoyo y solidaridad de la comunidad internacional, del Foro
Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas para que presten especial atención a la
situación de violencia que vivimos las defensoras indígenas del Estado de Oaxaca y
Republica Mexicana.

Por lo tanto recomendamos:

1. Realizar investigaciones de los asesinatos y ataques contra defensoras indígenas y
sancionar, conforme a derecho, a los responsables identificados por las autoridades

2. Garantizar el acceso a la justicia y medidas efectivas de protección para las
familias de las defensoras víctimas de desaparición forzada, feminicidio, violencia
del crimen organizado, ataques por parte del ejército, grupos paramilitares, grupos
parapolicíacos, corporaciones y de particulares.

3. Realizar una evaluación integral, desde una perspectiva de género y perspectiva
intercultural con participación de las defensoras indígenas de derechos humanos, de
las deficiencias en la aplicación de las medidas cautelares otorgadas por los órganos
nacionales competentes y la CIDH.

4. Implementar protocolos de prevención y protección con enfoque de género e
intercultural en todos y cada uno de los Estados de la República Mexicana.
La Comunidad internacional, el Relator de los Derechos de los Pueblos Indígenas y el
Foro Permanente para las Cuestiones Indígenas deben pronunciarse fuertemente
para garantizar la seguridad integral de las defensoras indígenas de derechos

Hoy estoy aquí, con esta intervención, siendo un testigo vivo de la violencia contra
nosotras. Defensoras indígenas muertas, desaparecidas, violadas que más tenemos
que esperar para que la comunidad internacional reaccione?

Muchas gracias,
Silvia Perez Yescas

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