Abel Barrera Hernández
|Abel Barrera Hernández|
|Born||Tlapa de Comonfort, Guerrero, Mexico|
|Occupation||human rights activist|
|Organization||Center for Human Rights of the Mountain of Tlachinollan|
|Awards||Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award (2010)|
Abel Barrera Hernández is a Mexican anthropologist and human rights activist. In 1994, he founded the Center for Human Rights of the Mountain of Tlachinollan in Guerrero, for which he was awarded by Amnesty International and given the 2010 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award.
Life and career
In 1994, he returned to his home city of Tlapa to found the Center for Human Rights of the Mountain of Tlachinollan. At the time, indigenous and grassroots groups were on the rise in the area, and Tlachinollan worked to improve their access to education, health care, and legal representation.
Beginning in 2004, the center became active in reporting abuses by the Mexican army following the increasing militarization of the country's war on narco-traffickers. The staff reported on rapes, forced disappearances, arbitrary detentions, seizure of lands, and the deliberate targeting of human rights activists; their reporting opened them to threat in turn. In May 2009, the danger to Tlachinollan's staff grew severe enough that the Inter-American Court (IAC) ordered government protection for every member of the organization. In the same year, Tlachinollan brought a case before the IAC of two indigenous women, Inés Fernández Ortega and Valentina Rosendo Cantú, who had been tortured and raped by Mexican military personnel; when the IAC published its findings the following year, it found the military guilty of the abuses.
By 2010, the staff included more than twenty people, handling 1,500 human rights complaints a year. Barrera's lawyer, Vidulfo Rosales, was threatened for his defense of indigenous women in May 2012, causing Tlachinollan to file a complaint on his behalf. In the same month, Tlachinollan members testified before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress on military abuses in Guerrero.
In 2007, Tlachinollan won the MacArthur Award for Creative and Effective Institutions of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, which came with a cash prize of US$500,000. Amnesty International's German branch recognized Barrera's work in March 2011 with its Sixth Annual Human Rights Award, given for his struggles "at great personal risk for the rights of the indigenous population in the state of Guerrero". In 2010, Barrera was given the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award for "his courageous defense of the rights of rural and indigenous peoples living in Guerrero State in southern Mexico."
- "2010: Abel Barrera Hernández". Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "Abel Barrera". Reporte Indigo. 12 June 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- Michael Posner. "Speech: Michael Posner at the 2010 Human Rights Award Ceremony". Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "U.S. Congressional Human Rights Commission Hears Testimony on Mexico". Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. 15 May 2012. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "Abel Barrera Hernández of Tlachinollan, Centro de Derechos Humanos de la Montaña". MacArthur Foundation. 9 October 2008. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- "Amnesty-Menschenrechtspreis für Abel Barrera aus Mexico" (in German). Amnesty International. 19 March 2011. Retrieved 2 July 2012.
- Claudia Stepke (19 November 2010). "Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award Ceremony Highlights Abuses in Mexico and Honors Local Hero Abel Barrera Hernandez For His Social Change Efforts". Robert F. Kennedy Center for Justice and Human Rights. Retrieved 2 July 2012.