Jyri Jaakola, the well-known Finnish human rights activist, has been killed by gunmen in the southern Mexican district of Oaxaca.
Jaakola was part of an activist convoy that was ambushed by armed men close to the Pacific Ocean, in the village of San Juan Copala. Several people remain missing after the attack which left another dead and at least 15 injured.
Mexican officials confirmed reports of the death to the Finnish Ministry for Foreign Affairs and to the Finnish Ambassador Ulla Vaisto. Two members of staff from the Mexico City Finnish Embassy were dispatched to the scene to assess the situation.
The convoy was accosted while travelling to meet members of the Triqui people, who have announced their autonomy from Mexico. The State of Oaxaca has refused to recognise the Triqui declaration,which comes after a spate of violent clashes between local indigenous tribes and paramilitary forces. The attack is understood to have been carried out by the Ubisort group, a paramilitary outfit with ties to the PRI, Oaxaca’s leading political party.
The State of Oaxaca has denounced the killings but issued a press statement in which it warned of the dangers of travel in the region. “It was known unofficially that the initiative for the convoy of activists had come from the leaders of the village of San Juan Copala. They did not take into consideration the security situation in the area, which does not suit this kind of activity,” the statement read.
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