Brothers of slain activist found dead in northern Mexico

CHIHUAHUA, MEXICO: Two brothers of a slain activist on Friday were found dead after being abducted three weeks ago in Chihuahua state, northern Mexico, La Jornada newspaper reported.

Authorities informed that the bodies of Maria Reyes and Elias Reyes were found in a field in Guadalupe municipality on Friday morning. The Reyes brothers were abducted on February 7 by a group of armed men.

In addition, the body of Luisa Ornelas Soto, Elias' wife, was also located in the scene near a gas station. The three were relatives of the activist Josefina Reyes who was murdered in January 2010.

Police officers found messages next to the bodies indicating that the victims were murdered of being members of rival gangs but it is known that the Reyes family has been targeted by criminal organizations due to their activism.

After the three individuals were abducted, the Reyes family organized a permanent protest on February 9 in front of the Chihuahua General Prosecutors' Office. The family also initiated a hunger strike.

On February 21, the Reyes family and other activists arrived to Mexico City to stage a protest in front of the Mexican Senate. Due to this pressure, Chihuahua Governor Cesar Duarte met with the family and vowed to increase search efforts.

On Wednesday, Human Rights Watch called on Mexican authorities to investigate a series of attacks on human rights defenders and their families in Chihuahua. The Reyes family's case was among the ones exposed.

The Mexico's northern state has witnessed multiple attacks on human rights activists. The homes of human rights defenders María Luisa García Andrade and Sara Salazar, both of whom worked with the organization Return our Daughters, were set on fire in separate incidents on February 15 and 16.

On January 6, a rights defender and poet who coined the phrase "Not One More Death", Susana Chávez, was brutally murdered in Ciudad Juárez. On December 16, 2010, another human rights defender, Marisela Escobedo Ortiz, was shot to death in front of the state house in Chihuahua City, where she was holding daily protests to demand justice in the case of her daughter who was killed in September 2008.


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