Environmental defender Ildefonso Zamora, an indigenous leader who has stood up to illegal loggers in Mexico State for the last 18 years, was arbitrarily imprisoned since November 2015, and faced a trial characterized by irregularities, violations of due process, and human rights abuses.
Ildefonso was arbitrarily arrested on November 20, 2015, without a warrant. It is impossible that Ildefonso committed the alleged theft of which he is accused because he was in another place on that day, as demonstrated by testimonials and documentary evidence.
Advocating for Mexican forests had already cost Ildefonso the life of his son Aldo Zamora, killed by loggers in 2007, and the arbitrary detention in 2015 of his son Misael by the military.
Greenpeace Mexico, who along with Center Prodh campaigned for Ildefonso’s freedom, has worked since 2004 along with the Zamora family and their community and has denounced illegal logging to the competent authorities, leading to 50 arrest warrants against illegal loggers but no arrests. In 2007, Mexico’s president Felipe Calderón awarded an environmental defense prize to Don Ildefonso and his community, but his promise of justice was never fulfilled.
One of the natural areas that the Zamora family and the community helped to reforest over the last decade is the area known as El Jaral. However, images taken in February 2016 demonstrate that other national park areas are still being deforested. It is estimated that about 38 thousand hectares of the Great Water Forest have been destroyed by illegal loggers.
Don Ildefonso Zamora’s case is one more example of the criminalization of environmental activists and human rights defenders, as also seen in the Ecologists Case. That is why Center Prodh and Greenpeace Mexico called for the immediate liberation of Ildefonso Zamora, and brought the case before local authorities and international bodies.
In addition, Amnesty International named Ildefonso Zamora a prisoner of conscience and called for charges to be dropped against him.
On August 12, 2016, Ildefonso regained his freedom after having won an amparo constitutional challenge.
During the hearing that granted him his liberty, Ildefonso stated before the judge, “I am innocent, and have always known it. The harms that I have suffered are difficult to repair, and I do not know who will give me justice.”
Upon leaving prison, and once reunited with his family, the indigenous activist expressed his thanks to those who helped him fight for his freedom, explaining, “I hope to return to my life with my family, and to my fight to defend the land of the tlahuica people and the forests that mean life for future generations, as without them there is no water, and without water there is no life.”
Amnesty International, Greenpeace, and the Miguel Agustín Pro Juárez Human Rights Center rejoice at Ildefonso’s liberation. We also call on the authorities of Mexico State to recognize the legitimacy of the defense of the Gran Bosque de Agua (Great Water Forest) and to refrain from any further persecution of Ildefonso or his family.