In what’s being called “the worst civilian massacre” in years, Mexican soldiers allegedly executed 21 men and a 15-year-old girl who apparently surrendered to them moments earlier, according to witness accounts first reported by the Associated Press journalist Mark Stevenson.
Official reports say the army acted in “legitimate defense,” when on June 30, it shot at a group of gunmen that allegedly held three women at a grain warehouse in San Pedro Limon a town in the municipality of Tlatlaya, in central Mexico.
But testimony provided to the AP by one of just three witnesses at the site [the other two are now in prison] suggests otherwise. The news agency’s witness says that soldiers executed the group of men who shot at them at the warehouse after they had surrendered.
“The witness account of what happened in Tlatlaya would reflect that we face the worst civilian massacre at the hands of the military during this presidential term,” José Miguel Vivanco, Human Rights Watch Director for the Americas, told Fusion.
Vivanco said President Enrique Peña Nieto’s administration “cannot remain silent” on the issue. Moreover, he said, it’s crucial that the “necessary measures are adopted in order to protect the witness to assure her security is not at risk.”
Journalist Pablo Ferri, of Esquire Mexico, contacted one of the three massacre survivors, a woman named Julia who now lives in the state of Guerrero and fears for her life. She told Ferri that she was never kidnapped, but forced to sign a series of documents stating she had been liberated by the military operation after witnessing the execution of 15-year-old Erika Gomez Gonzalez.
The Attorney General’s Office in Mexico did not respond to numerous requests for comment from Fusion.
Text by Rafael Fernandez,
Video Produced by Jared Goyette and Manuel Rueda, edited by Walter J Collins.