A human rights defender of indigenous peoples was murdered this Monday in the municipality of Simojovel, in the Mexican state of Chiapas (southeast), authorities reported. The events occurred when the activist Simón Pedro Pérez López and his son were shopping on the central avenue, a few meters from a public market. The activist was shot and killed and, according to witnesses, the perpetrator of the crime was riding a motorcycle.
Pérez López was a Tzeltal indigenous person, a human rights defender of the indigenous peoples of the Altos de Chiapas area, and he also participated in the Santa Catarina parish of the Pantelhó municipality, where he was a catechist. He was also a member of the organization Las Abejas de Acteal, in which during 2020 he was president of the board of directors. The Las Abejas group is an indigenous, Christian, pacifist and anti-neoliberal group.
On December 22, 1997, a group of indigenous people from this organization prayed in the Acteal community, in the municipality of Chenalhó, Chiapas, when they were attacked by a hundred alleged paramilitaries, also indigenous. In the massacre, 45 Tzotziles died – 21 women, 4 of them pregnant, 15 children and 9 elderly people – and another 26 were injured.
Organizations indicated that Pérez López worked to promote and defend the rights of indigenous peoples and through that work he had accompanied communities that have denounced the violence, requesting its cessation and the search for justice.
After the murder, the priest Marcelo Pérez accused a group, which he called “Pantelho hitmen”, and said that the activist “was one of the many victims of structural violence in Pantelhó.” Relatives and civil organizations demanded from the Chiapas authorities “a diligent investigation, guaranteeing the safety of Simón Pedro’s family and the members of Las Abejas de Acteal.”
According to the organization Red Todos los Derechos para Todos y Todos (Red TDT), in the first two years of the government of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador, who came to power on December 1, 2018, around 45 human rights defenders have been murdered in Mexico .