Forced Internal Displacement (FID) is a multiple and continuous violation of human rights, especially related to a resurgence of socio-political violence and situations of serious armed conflict in Chiapas, which brings with it challenges for human rights defenders.
Forced internal displacement (FID), as a continuous and multiple violation of human rights, consists of the displacement of people or groups of people who have been forced or obligated to escape or flee from their home or their usual place of residence, particularly as a result of or to avoid the effects of an armed conflict, situations of generalized violence, human rights violations or natural or human-inflicted disasters, and who have not crossed an internationally recognized state border.
In Mexico, the causes of FID have been classified into five areas: political (repression of opposition groups); religious; agrarian; criminal and extractivist, the latter understood as mega projects of infrastructure, mining, large dams, etc. The main cause of FID is supposedly criminal, constituted by organized crime and war between cartels. The states with the highest number of cases are Guerrero; Sinaloa; Michoacán; Tamaulipas; Chiapas and Chihuahua.
In their publication “Key towards psychosocial support”, the organization ALUNA emphasizes that the purpose of FID is the occupation of territory with a profit aim, carried out either by exploiting land and natural resources, or with the use of routes for the transfer of illegal merchandise, including drugs.
The UN Internal Displacement Observation Center emphasizes that the victims of FID are people who have been violently withdrawn from their social fabric, their cultural and family ties, their environment and their material property, which in turn means that their historical and emotional memory as well as their material conditions have been marked by a structural rupture. Further, as we were able to show during the Observation Mission, carried out on July 10 this year, women and their children and adolescents represent the highest percentage of the victims of forced displacement that has caused violence in Pantelhó; about 80%.
From 1994 to June 2020, Chiapas had 37 cases of forced displacement, resulting in more than 115 thousand displaced people. The municipalities with the most cases of FID have been San Cristóbal de Las Casas (5), Huixtán (4), Las Margaritas (4) and Chenalhó (4). It should be noted that the latter has had more causes apart from FID as displacements have been recorded due to the armed conflict (1), generalized violence (1) and other human rights violations (2).
Added to this figure are the 3,205 Tsotsil indigenous people from the municipalities of Pantelhó and Chenalhó who, as of July 7 of this year, had to abandon their homes and seek refuge in safe places due to the generalized violence in the region.
In turn, there are 120 displaced people who are members of the pacifist civil organization Las Abejas de Acteal who are sheltering in La Casa de la Memoria and La Esperanza due to the imminent risk of an armed attack.
During the Observation Mission, several of the victims who shared their testimony mentioned that they were survivors of the Acteal massacre that took place on December 22, 1997. They emphasized how difficult it is for them, both in their daily life and emotionally, reliving a similar situation 23 years later by being displaced a second time, and trying to survive by fleeing from the bullets.
Despite the fact that article 24 of the Law for the Prevention and Attention of Internal Displacement in the State of Chiapas states that everyone has the right to protection against arbitrary displacements that force or obligate them to abandon their place of residence, and further that the General Victims Law and the Comprehensive Victim Care Model shall foresee non-repetition measures, several of the survivors of the Acteal massacre find themselves once again in a situation of FID.
Faced with the aforementioned humanitarian crisis, the Fray Bartolomé de las Casas Human Rights Center (CDH Frayba) warned in an urgent action that the current escalation of violence represents an imminent risk to the life and physical and psychological integrity of the victims of FID.
Human rights defenders, such as the members of the CDH Frayba, face several challenges in accompanying victims of FID. In this sense, it should be noted that, as ALUNA recalls, one of the characteristics of FID is that it is silent and scarcely reported since frightened victims do not want to speak out due to fear of reprisals. Thus, without an official claim or complaint, it is not possible to initiate a legal process in order to access justice.
From SweFOR we recall, as established by the UN, that “States have the obligation to take protective measures against displacement of indigenous peoples, minorities, peasants and shepherds who have a special dependence on their land or particular attachment to it.”
There is an immediate and great need to address the origins of structural violence in order to guarantee the construction of sustainable and lasting peace in the State of Chiapas.