Press Release from the Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights, Washington D.C, September 23, 2010:
Mr. Abel Barrera Hernández, the founder and Director of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center of the Montaña in Guerrero, Mexico will receive the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for his determined efforts to end human rights abuses resulting from military impunity and narco-violence.
Mr. Barrera and his colleagues work under constant threat to protect the rights of peasants and indigenous peoples against forced disappearances, rape, arbitrary detentions, intimidation, dispossession of lands and illegal interrogations, and to improve their access to healthcare, legal representation and education.
“Justice for the indigenous peoples of the Mexican mountains does not exist; it must be won inch by inch and confronting grave dangers. Those that seek a better life and organize to realize their human rights are sought out and assassinated,” said Abel Barrera Hernández. “The award that we are presented today by the RFK Center for Justice & Human Rights comes to refresh our dreams.”
The Tlachinollan Center, established in 1994, engages grassroots groups in
the struggle for justice and the protection of human rights. The Tlachinollan Center’s expert staff use a broad array of tools, including legal aid, advocacy on public policy and psychological support for victims. “Tlachinollan” is an indigenous word for the mountainous region of east Guerrero and symbolizes the commitment of the Tlachinollan Human Rights Center to serve the indigenous peoples of the “montaña” (mountain).
“Our friends at the Tlachinollan Center represent true courage in their struggle to expose and confront ongoing human rights abuses. By standing with the most vulnerable communities, Abel Barrera Hernández and his colleagues are at great personal risk and we are proud to recognize their work with this prestigious award,” said Claudio Grossman, RFK Human Rights Award Judge and Dean of Washington College of Law, American University.
“In giving him the award, we recognize his tireless efforts to defend the rights of peasants and indigenous peoples, and we begin a long-term partnership to support him and the Tlachinollan Center in their struggle,” said Monika Kalra Varma, Director of the RFK Center for Human Rights.
Mrs. Robert F. Kennedy will present Mr. Barrera with the 2010 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award in Washington, D.C., in a ceremony in mid-November. Mr. Barrera joins 41 RFK human rights laureates in 24 countries as the recipient of the 27th annual prize and multi-year partnership with the RFK Center.
For 42 years, the RFK Center has worked for a more peaceful and just world. The Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award was established in 1984 to honor courageous and innovative human rights defenders throughout the world who stand up against injustice, often at great personal risk. The award signifies the beginning of an on-going partnership with the RFK Center for Human Rights in Washington, DC. Winners are selected by an independent panel of human rights experts. The 2010 panel included Claudio Grossman, Dean of Washington College of Law, American University; Gay McDougall, UN Independent Expert on Minority Issues; Makau Mutua, Dean of University at Buffalo Law School, The State University of New York; Sushma Raman, President of Southern California Grantmakers; and Dr. William F. Schultz, Senior Fellow at Center for American Progress.
As a result of the high level of threats, aggressions and harassment which its staff have suffered, The Tlachinollan Human Rights Centre receives the accompaniment of PBI