Some 2,000 state government employees in Oaxaca city were held hostage yesterday during a protest by residents of a Zapotec indigenous community.
An estimated 500 people from Santo Domingo Teojomulco turned up at 9:00am at a government office complex known as Ciudad Judicial to demand a new trial for two incarcerated indigenous leaders.
They requested a meeting with the president of the state Supreme Court , hoping to establish a process through which the two Zapotec leaders, Manuel Roque and Fortunato Osorio, could be released after spending six years in prison.
After getting no reponse from state authorities, the group decided to occupy the grounds around the Ciudad Judicial, effectively detaining nearly 2,000 employees who were inside.
When some attempted to leave the premises the protesters held fast, threatening the workers with sticks and machetes.
Some time later a group of female employees attempted to leave via a drainage pipe but the protesters detected the attempted escape and forced them to turn back.
There was hysteria among many of the hostages whose children were waiting to be picked up at schools and daycare centers.
Security forces remained absent during the day-long incident, which came to an end late yesterday evening when Interior Secretary Héctor Anuar Mafud Mafud arranged a meeting with the people of Teojomulco.
At 9:00pm the hostages were allowed to leave, but not without incident. Some of the hostages clashed with some of the protesters, leaving several people with injuries.
The residents of Teojomulco, a town and municipality in the southern sierra, resumed their protest this morning by marching to the city’s central square.
A spokesman told reporters that the jailed community leaders were imprisoned in 2013 for homicide and torture and are serving 35-year sentences.
But Manuel Espinoza declared that the two were wrongfully accused.