State police in Chiapas used tear gas on Sunday to break up a march by family members of the missing 43 students from Guerrero and students of a teachers’ college in Tuxtla Gutiérrez.
Parents of the missing young men, who were studying at the Ayotzinapa Rural Teachers College when they were abducted and presumably killed in September 2014, and students of the Mactumactzá Rural Teachers College were marching towards the center of the Chiapas capital on the Libramiento Norte road when they were approached by some 200 riot police Sunday morning.
The Chiapas Secretariat of Security (SSyPC) said that the officers approached the participants of the “Caravan in Search of the 43” to seek dialogue and listen to their demands.
However, the students assaulted two officers, threw molotov cocktails, rocks and fireworks at the police contingent and vandalized a police car, the SSyPC said, adding that one police officer sustained a head injury and was taken to hospital.
The police used tear gas in response to the aggression “in accordance with the eviction protocol” in order to reestablish order, the secretariat said.
However, the Chiapas-based Ku’untik Human Rights Center charged that the police response amounted to government repression of the protesters, while parents of the missing Ayotzinapa students said that excessive force had been used.
Three Mactumactzá students, two of the missing Ayotzinapa students’ mothers and the 3-year-old granddaughter of one of them required medical treatment, the parents said.
The “authoritarian attitude” of the Chiapas authorities is “inconceivable,” they said in a statement, adding that their constitutional rights and freedoms were trodden on.
The Mactumactzá students are well-known for protests and have clashed with police in the past. They stole four buses last November after attacking a Tuxtla Gutiérrez garage owned by the bus line Ómnibus Cristóbal Colón (OCC) with molotov cocktails.
The students said they were protesting against the privatization of education and government repression. They also demanded more funding for their school.