There has been a lot of focus on anthropologists and human rights recently. But being engaged is easier said than done. Police Beat and Gas Students at the National School of Anthropology and History is the headline of a story on Narco News. They were part of a demonstration against rights abuses by the Mexican police:
Students from the National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH), of the School for Science and Humanities (CCH) South and the National Pedagogic University (UPN), among other adherents to the Other Campaign, were blocking the “Periférico Avenue” highway near the ENAH when they were attacked with pepper gas and clubs by members of the Mexico City police.
"It was a day of energy and rebellion for the students. This could be the genesis of a real movement coming out of the solidarity of the classroom", NarcoNews writer Juan Trujillo concludes.
Valentina Palma Novoa is one of the victims of police violence. She's originally from Chile and student at the National School of Anthropology and History, and tells us about the background of the demonstration some days ago:
On Wednesday, May 3, after seeing the news on television and learning of the death of a 14-year-old boy, I was moved by the death of this small child and, as an anthropologist and documentary filmmaker, decided to go to San Salvador Atenco.
The day after:
It must have been about 6am when the church bells of San Salvador Atenco began to ring – bong, bong, bong, over and over again – while a voice shouted over the loudspeaker that the police were surrounding the town. Bicycles hurried past in every direction.
I zoomed in with my camera. I saw that there were many of them and that, covered by their shields, they were advancing with small and nearly imperceptible steps. I was afraid. There were many of them, heavily armed, while the farmers were few and unarmed. In the screen of my camera I saw one of the police point and shoot a projectile towards us; when it landed next to me, I could smell and feel that it was tear gas.
I was panicked and didn’t want to come down from the roof; then a police officer yelled up to me, “Come down here, bitch. Come down here now.” I came down from the roof slowly, terrorized by the sight of the boys being beaten in the head. Two police officers took hold of me and pulled me forward while others beat me on the chest, back and legs with their clubs.
She was then arrested and expelled from the country.
Global Voices author David Sasaki has made an impressive research on this topic - read >> Mexico: Violence and Backlash in San Salvador Atenco
Foreign women photographers beaten and abused by Mexico City police (Reporters Without Borders)
Police raid in Mexico exposes deep rift (Mercury News)
Protesters choke Mexico City (Washington Post)
London says 'We are all Atenco!' (Indymedia UK)
An anonymous policeman interviewed remarked on his orders from above :
“And no, there was no training, we were just told to beat people when there were no media around, that is, to be discreet. You couldn’t just hit the people openly because there were cameras around that could spot you.
The order is always clear when we are working for these people. There is no discussion: hit the people, and do it when the media aren’t around. And in this case, it was to hit anything that moved… that’s why…”
Thanks to new technology this is no longer so easy for the police. This story about police violence has now made its way around the world.