Nestora Salgado protests illegal detention with hunger strike

May 11, 2015

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Nestora Salgado-García, the Renton woman who has been imprisoned in Mexico since August of 2013, is on her sixth day of a hunger strike to protest her illegal detention.

Tom Antkowiak"Despite pronouncements by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, seven United Nations human rights experts, and a Mexican federal court, Nestora remains in prison," said Professor Thomas Antkowiak, director of the International Human Rights Clinic, which has led international litigation on Salgado's behalf. "For weeks we have attempted to negotiate with Mexican officials for her release, but they have defied their international obligations."

In a joint statement released Thursday, Congressman Adam Smith and Senator Patty Murray called for Salgado's immediate release.

"It is unacceptable for the Mexican government to continue to imprison Nestora Salgado in conditions that fail to protect her life and physical integrity. Nestora’s health continues to deteriorate and without immediate action by the Mexican government, Nestora's life is truly at risk," they wrote.

"We urge the United States government to take immediate action to secure Nestora's release on humanitarian grounds. Nestora has been deprived from due process and justice by the Mexican government and we will continue to do all we can to ensure that she receives it."

In March, the Chair of the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention and the UN Special Rapporteurs on Torture, Health, Violence Against Women, Human Rights Defenders, Independence of Judges and Lawyers, and Indigenous Peoples all signed an urgent action petition delivered to the Mexican Government.

In January, the Inter-American Commission called on Mexico to act immediately to protect the "life and physical integrity" of Salgado. The Washington, D.C.-based Commission issued precautionary measures in response to Salgado's alarming detention conditions and deteriorating health.

"Far from protecting Nestora from the serious dangers corroborated by national and international organizations, Mexico has recently submitted her to medical examinations that resulted in her torture," stated co-counsel Alejandra Gonza.

Salgado informed her attorneys that Mexican officials drugged her and inserted needles throughout her body, producing electric shocks. "I felt like I was dying," said Salgado.

Nestora SalgadoSalgado was arrested in August 2013 for her courageous community work in the small indigenous village of Olinalá. Guerrero law and the Mexican Constitution guarantee the rights of indigenous communities to form their own justice and security institutions. Salgado was a leader of a community-policing group that legally forms part of state law enforcement, and had the express approval of Guerrero's governor.

Authorities abruptly changed position, however, when the group arrested a local official for committing a crime. Salgado was immediately seized by military forces and flown nearly 1,000 kilometers away to the maximum-security prison of El Rincon, in Nayarit. She was denied visits from her chosen attorney for nearly a year.

Refused bail, Salgado has lived in solitary confinement 23-24 hours a day. She has also been denied necessary medical treatment and clean water. According to the Inter-American Commission, this "serious, urgent and irreparable situation" requires immediate action from Mexican authorities.

"She simply cannot take this injustice any longer," said Salgado's husband, José Luis Avila.

"Nestora has never received due process in Mexico, and access to her is nearly impossible," emphasized Antkowiak. "She must be released immediately."