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Saturday, Oct 18, 2008, 4:37 pm

As Two-Year Anniversary of Brad Will’s Death Nears, Mexican Authorities Claim APPO Is Responsi

By Sam Stoker

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Mexican federal police arrested five activists in Oaxaca, Mexico yesterday and at least two of them have been charged with crimes in connection with the October 27, 2006 shooting-death of Independent Media journalist Brad Will, a U.S. citizen. A press release from the Mexican Attorney General's Office states eleven people in total are wanted in connection to Will's death.

At the time of his death, Will was filming a battle between pro-government paramilitaries and members of the Asamblea Popular de los Pueblos de Oaxaca (APPO) along one of the barricades APPO erected during the 2006 uprising. Will was near APPO members when he was shot and Mexican authorities say powder burns were found near the bullet hole in his chest, which they say suggests Will was shot at close range. However, a report on El Enemigo Comun states the examiner who performed the autopsy refuted the claim. Likewise, numerous witness reports say Will was shot by paramilitaries and his own camera, which was recording at the time of his death, captured the gunman.

Members of APPO have said the arrests are a way for the Mexican government to cover up their responsibility for Will's death. They also have said it appears the Mexican government is arresting APPO leadership, most likely to quell continued dissent to the oppressive conditions of Oaxaca, one of the poorest states in Mexico. According to the blog Angry White Kid, rumors currently abound in Oaxaca that 300 warrants have been issued for the arrest of people who participated in the 2006 uprising.

These events follow a recent confrontation in the Mexican state of Morelos. Reminiscent of the 2006 Oaxaca uprising, Mexican military, state and federal police violently squashed a teacher's union uprising on October 7, 8 and 9. The union was revolting against the "Alliance for Quality Education," the Mexican version of "No Child Left Behind," which they feel paves the path toward the privatization of education.

Here is a link to an older, but well written, story by Mexico City based journalist John Ross on Will's death. It also gives an overview of the Oaxaca uprising.

Here are some photos from Morelos posted on IMC.

Sam Stoker is a freelance reporter based in Chicago.

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