The head of the United Nations forum on indigenous issues today urged Mexican officials to meet with a wing of the national union of teachers to resolve the conflict in the southern state of Oaxaca, where violent protests over education took at least six lives.
“I would like to express my absolute rejection and condemnation of the events that took place on 19 and 20 June this year in Asuncion Nochixtlán and neighbouring municipalities in the state of Oaxaca, Mexico,” said Alvaro Pop, Chairperson of the UN Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues.
In addition to the people killed, more than 100 were injured in protests that followed President Enrique Peña Nieto's changes to the education system.
The group that is protesting the changes is known as the National Coordinator of Education Workers (CNTE), an offshoot of the national teacher's union.
In today's statement, Mr. Pop urges the Government to dialogue in an “effective, participatory and mutually respectful manner” with the CNTE “to find a solution that respects national and international obligations undertaken by Mexico to promote and protect the rights of its indigenous peoples.”
He noted that Oaxaca has the largest cultural diversity among all the Mexican states, and that Mexico has formally and constitutionally recognized the rights of indigenous peoples “to education in line with their cultural methods of teaching and learning.”
This stems from Mexico having signed on to the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, Convention No. 169 of the International Labour Organization and the recently adopted American Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
Mr. Pop's comments come ahead of the International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples, marked annually on 9 August, which will this year focus on “Indigenous Peoples and Education.”
The UN is currently marking the Second International Decade of the World's Indigenous People, which began in 2005.