Amnesty International is sad to learn of the death of Felipe Arreaga, former environmental activist from Petatlán, Guerrero, in Mexico. Arreaga, founder of the Peasant Environmentalist Organization of the Sierra de Petatlán (Organización Campesina Ecologista de la Sierra de Petatlán – OCESP), died last Wednesday morning September 16th, after being hit by a mini bus while he travelled along the national highway, connecting Acapulco and Zihuatanejo.
In 2004, Amnesty International adopted Felipe Arreaga as a prisoner of conscience, issuing Urgent Actions and initiating other work on his behalf. On November 3, 2004, Felipe was detained and unjustly charged for a 1998 murder. During his detention lawyers proved that he was not responsible for the murder, and a witness admitted that he was forced to make a statement against Felipe. After 10 months, with the support of Amnesty International activists around the world, he was released and finally returned home. You can read more about Felipe and his work in this 2005 profile that appeared in Amnesty International Magazine.
Our most heartfelt condolences go out to Felipe’s wife, Celsa, and his friends and family. Felipe’s peaceful struggle to prevent excessive logging of local forests will always be remembered. Felipe Arreaga’s detention is a reminder to all of the unjust detentions occurring right now in Mexico and many other countries, and of the difference that human rights activism can make in the lives of individuals. Without the support of Amnesty and letters written by individuals, Felipe may not have been released. Thank you to all who supported Felipe Arreaga—his environmental activism, his dedication, and his strength of spirit will not be forgotten.