Mexico: Ayotzinapa Students Attacked by Police in Tixtla

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Tixtla: Several buses carrying normalistas from Ayotzinapa were attacked by Mexican federal and state police as they were returning to the Raul Isidro Burgos Rural School from Chilpancingo. Police ambushed their buses as they were driving on the Tixtla-Chilpancingo highway. The students who were attacked yesterday are from the same school as the 43 missing students who were forcibly disappeared in September 2104.

Images of the police repression began circulating on social media Wednesday afternoon with reports that the state police and federal had gassed and beaten several Ayotzinapa students and arrested others. Normalistas scattered in nearby hills to escape the attack.

“My compañeros are on foot headed towards the normal (school). The were repressed at the Tixtla toll booth on the beltway. Police followed them from Chilpancingo.”

Due to the chaotic nature of the incident information (as is normal in Mexico when police attack students like this) numbers fluctuated and were difficult to confirm. The balance: 8 students were injured and taken to the hospital, 4 of them in serious condition, and possibly 13 to 15 detained.

An anonymous user uploaded the below video to YouTube showing what happened at the beginning of the police attack. In the beginning of the video which was filmed on board one of the buses that was attacked, a student says, “Criminals are chasing students! Take note how many patrols there are to chase students! Those who are chasing us, this is organized crime!”

At 1:12, the police execute some bizarre maneuvers and smash the windows of a bus while both vehicles are in motion, then proceed to shoot tear gas into the bus’s broken window. Multiple reports today say Guerrero state police as well as federal police took part in the operation. The lunatic driving maneuvers in this video were state police vehicles.

VIDEO: Federal police began assaulting students from #Ayotzinapa 11/11/2015

Some students on board managed to escape through the windows but others fainted from the gas. A second video shows police firing tear gas at some of the students who got out of the buses safely.

VIDEO: Police fired tear gas at normalistas

Revolucion 3.0 reports that Vidulfo Rosales Sierra, advisor for the Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña Tlachinollan, said that eight student teachers from Ayotzinapa were beaten by riot police on the Chilpancingo-Tixtla highway. They were admitted to Hospital General Raymundo Abarca Alarcón and presented with broken arms, facial injuries and head trauma.

Here’s what the buses looked like after the police were finished with them.

VIDEO: Buses destroyed by federal police in assault on normalistas of #Ayotzinapa 11/11/2015

Some gravely injured students are shown in this next video which also mentions that the students had expropriated a tanker truck full of gasoline to use in upcoming demonstrations, presumably for bus fuel/transportation. A protest demanding justice for the 43 normalistas who are missing since last year is scheduled for this Saturday.

VIDEO: A confrontation with police ended with 15 Ayotzinapa students arrested

Karla Zabludovsky, Mexico Bureau Chief and Latin America Correspondent at BuzzFeed, spoke with a student who witnessed the attack. The student said he thought “the government was trying to send them a message, to weaken them, before a big march planned for Saturday.”

Preventing the expropriation of fuel is the justification being used by police for the excessive use of force against normalistas Wednesday afternoon. Fuel theft is a big issue in Mexico. Insight Crime reported in April 2015 the problem of fuel theft keeps getting worse, although students are not the usual suspects in those crimes. Mexico state oil firm Pemex registered 1,211 illegal pipeline taps in the first quarter of 2015. Organized crime groups steal fuel and then sell it at below-market prices to cartel-controlled gas stations and other buyers. Criminals reportedly operate extensive infrastructure including a fleet of tanker ships and oil trucks in Mexico.

It’s quite possible the students took a gas tanker truck, but in comparison to organized crime operations of fuel theft, a coordinated police operation brutally repressing and nearly killing students for expropriating fuel is highly disproportionate.


 
Police also attacked journalists reporting on the repression yesterday and attempted to interfere with filming the aftermath.

VIDEO: Reporter assaulted by federal police during attack on Ayotzinapa students

Reporter Bernardo Torres attempted to film police arresting normalistas on the highway. He was chased away and told not to record. As police attempt to hide what they’re doing from Bernardo’s camera, he tells them “I am filming, it’s my job. This is a public road, I’m going to film.”

The female officer then intercedes (it appears she is also filming Bernardo) and she says, “No, don’t watch what they’re doing” to which he boldly replies “We see everything. Everything is recorded here. Here everything is recorded.”

It is relevant to note that these attacks against normalistas from Raul Isidro Burgos happened just 2 days after media outlet Milenio launched an aggressive smear campaign against the Ayotzinapa movement, attempting to link the students with elements of organized crime based on a “leaked phone call.”

“Ruthless campaign by Milenio against the Ayotzinapa movement”

An article published by Milenio on November 9 states that a criminal group known as Los Ardillos was at the entrance of normal Raul Isidro Burgos Rural School on October 20 with the intention of kidnapping four young men, who allegedly belong to Los Rojos. The outlet based its information on an alleged telephone conversation between Omar Garcia (survivor of the 2014 Iguala attack) and an unidentified student. Milenio did not cite any sources for the leak.

An online campaign of hate was also organized under hashtag #NarcosEnAyotzinapa targeting Ayotzinapa students. From 18:46 pm on November 10, trolls launched the slogan to position the trending topic, attacking students with violent images and direct threats. The publications continued throughout the night and peaked at 21:00 pm where more than 5,000 tweets were published, linking to the leaked audio from Milenio. These groups use positioning techniques which generate trends despite being a small number of users.

Screenshot: SomosElMedio (blurred on purpose) "In Ayotzinapa, before roasting them they cut them into pieces like in the poultry shops."

Screenshot: SomosElMedio (blurred on purpose)
“In Ayotzinapa, before roasting them they cut them into pieces like in the poultry shops.”

Click here to view the Storify of some sample attack tweets – warning graphic content

The troll attacks occurred at the same time the Minister of the Interior, Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong, revealed that an investigation exists by the Interior Ministry suggesting drug gangs infiltrated in the Ayotzinapa normal school and were responsible for the disappearance of the 43 missing students in September 2014. Chong also lent legitimacy to the Milenio smear by referring to the Milenio phone call as an “interesting and important audio.”

An article published today by El Universal roundly discredits the claims made by Milenio and says the Attorney General’s office denies there are any links between the normalistas and narcos saying the PGR does not have any evidence linking the school with organized crime nor are there any situations that indicate Raul Isidro Burgos is infiltrated by “Los Rojos.”

The students who were arrested last night have reportedly been released. Several still remain in the hospital but are in stable condition. Reports circulated last night that possibly 50 students were “missing” or “disappeared” but it was believed that students who were unaccounted for had fled into the mountains to seek safety from the police attacks and were hiding, not disappeared.

We will update with more information as soon as it becomes available.

Sources:
Revolution 3.0
Aristegui Noticias
Insight Crime
Desinformemonos
El Universal
Somos El Medio

About Author

Erin Gallagher is a multimedia artist, translator and writer for Revolution News.