Petition Closed
Petitioning Governor of the State of Veracruz-Llave Lic. Javier Duarte Ochoa

Help free María de Jesús Bravo Pagola and Gilberto Martínez Vera in Veracruz, Mexico

On Thursday August 25, in the city of Veracruz Mexico, a rumor spread that certain schools would be closing their doors because they had received threats from members belonging to organized crime organizations. This rumor was spread through many sources, Twitter being one of the most important. The hashtag #Verfollow was inundated with tweets stating that all parents should pick up their children from school because they were being kidnapped. Needless to say the tweets caused widespread panic in the city. Later that same day the governor of Veracruz, Javier Duarte Ochoa took to his own twitter account to inform citizens that the rumors were in fact false, that he had found the source, and that they would face legal consequences for their actions. This resulted in the arrest of Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola, and Gilberto Martinez Vera who are now being charged with terrorism and sabotage and if convicted could face up to 30 years in prison. Through various investigations we have come to learn that in fact these two individuals were not the source of the rumor. By the time these two individuals had sent their tweets many other tweets had already appeared on twitter, and many school officials were calling parents and urging them to pick up their children. We urge you today to take one minute to sign this petition that asks for the prompt release of Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola and Gilberto Martinez Vera which through torture are being forced to plead guilty to a crime they did not commit and could face the next 30 years of their life in prison. Due to the severity of these events, a call was made on Wednesday August 31, 2011 in representation of the state of Veracruz in Mexico City. A letter was delivered to the government of the state of Veracruz to demand the release of Maria de Jesus Bravo and Gilberto Martinez. Freedom for Maria de Jesus Bravo and Gilberto Martinez! Below a translated copy of such letter. By signing this petition, you are inturn sending this letter to Lic. Javier Duarte Ochoa, Governor of the State of Veracruz. To add your name to our petition please fill your first and last name as well as your email and zip code in the spaces provided. As well as accepting the privacy policy and terms of use.
Letter to
Governor of the State of Veracruz-Llave Lic. Javier Duarte Ochoa
All those who sign this letter, while exercising their fundamental rights, as well as certain participants of the group Contingente Mx, and social network users, assume the responsibility to defend human rights in Mexico. Through a statement released by the Attorney General of the State of Veracruz we have learned that Maria de Jesus Bravo Pagola “Maruchi Bravo” and Gilberto Martinez Vera both users of the social network Twitter have been arrested and consigned before a criminal court.

The charges they face are those of terrorism and sabotage as referred to in the State Penal Code. Due to the events occurred in Boca Del Rio Veracruz on August 25th, 2011 in which dozens of parents went to the schools to pick up their children before the school day was over, due to an intentional rumor spread over social networking sites on the internet including Twitter, with regard to the above mentioned and based on the rights stated in article 1 first and second paragraph; 6; 7 first paragraph; 8 and 9; we demand:
1. That the charges of terrorism and sabotage attributed to María de Jesús Bravo Pagola and Gilberto Martínez Vera be withdrawn
2. That no additional charges be formulated for the events that took place on August 25th, 2011
3. That the damaged caused to their integrity be repaired through a formal apology by the government as well as widely distributed.
4. That an adequate system be implemented to inform citizens in real time of the violence that is occurring in their state, which should include social media.

It has not gone without notice by those of us who sign this letter that Veracruz is going through a difficult time due to the wave of violence that exists in the state. The recent murders of various journalists and other circumstances have led some local media to self censor information about organized crime while others have received government pressure.
As a result this situation has caused citizens not to receive information in a timely manner and therefore cannot protect themselves against attacks caused by organized crime and their clashes with the authorities, and also run the risk of being injured or killed in crossfire. To summarize the citizens of Veracruz have turned to social networks in order to stay informed and to protect themselves as was documented by the Spanish newspaper El Pais in an article published by them entitled “Tuits a prueba de balas” or “Bulletproof Tweets” on August 26th.

In order for those arrested to be held responsible there must be proof that their actions were committed with the intent to deceive. Otherwise anyone who generates alarm could well be accused of terrorism. As it was stated in social media sites according to this arrest, any Jehovah's Witness could very well be arrested for predicting the “imminent end of the world.”

Lets recall briefly the basis of freedom of expression in Mexico:

Constitution of the United Mexican States:
Article 1. In The United Mexican States all persons shall enjoy the rights recognized by this Constitution and international treaties by which the Mexican State is party, as well as any guarantees for their protection, which may not be restricted or suspended, except in the cases stated under the conditions established by this Constitution
The relative norms on human rights shall be constructed in accordance with this Constitution and any international treaties on the subject, at all times favoring the people with the broadest protection.
All authorities, within the scope of their powers, have the obligation to promote, respect, protect, and guarantee human rights in accordance with the principles of universality, interdependence, indivisibility, and progressiveness. Consequently the State must prevent, investigate, punish, and repair any human rights violation within the terms established by law.

Article 6. The manifestation of ideas shall not be subject to any judicial or administrative inquiry, but in the event of an attack on the moral rights of others, provocation of a crime, or disruption of public order; the right of reply shall be exercised in the terms set by the law. The right to information is guaranteed by the state.

Article 7. The right to write and publish written works on any subject is absolute. …

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights 3.

Article 19
1. No one shall be harassed as a result of their opinions.
2. Everyone has the right to freedom of expression; this freedom includes the right to search for, receive, and diffuse information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of boundaries either orally, in writing, in print or artistic form, or through any other media of choice.
3. Exercising the rights previously stated in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, which should, however, be expressly established by law and are necessary to:
a) Ensure the respect of the rights or reputation of others;
b) Ensure the protection of national security public order, health, or morals.

Finally we express our willingness to take all legal and peaceful protest in our power to secure the release of the persons named and we reiterate our willingness to defend freedom of expression from any intent to undermine it.


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