Yesterday, forty-three empty chairs faced the Mexican embassy in London, mutely reproaching the government for hiding the truth about forty-three disappeared young men.
That was Tilly’s concept (she organizes volunteer activities on Mexico for Amnesty International U.K.), but the chairs were turned to face into the street so that photographers could see the names and faces placed on them.
The van driver bringing us the chairs lost his way, so we had to wait a while, in rain which fortunately didn’t last too long. The photographers who had shown up exercised patience, also skill and long arms to eliminate from view the inevitable parked cars in the foreground. The embassy, interestingly, had taken down the flag it usually displays.
On September 26, 2014, students from the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College, in Guerrero state, were traveling in several buses toward Mexico City. They intended to join a commemoration of the 1968 Tlatelolco massacre by government forces. But they were stopped by police. Several students were killed, others fled, and 43 have not been seen since.
There is outrage among the people of Guerrero. The government has come up with changing stories, blaming the mayor of Iguala and his wife, or criminal gangs, and obstructing those who ask questions. What Amnesty International asks, as so often, is “independent and impartial investigation”: for the truth to be known about what happened to the victims and who is responsible. It’s by no means the only case of repression, cover-up, and impunity, but it’s one of the worst.