On December 22, 1997, 45 Tzotzil Indians were murdered during an armed confrontation in Chenalho, Chiapas, Mexico. The victims, mostly women and children, belonged to the indigenous organization Las Abejas-The Bees. Ninety people were convicted and imprisoned for murder, aggravated assault and unauthorized possession of firearms restricted to military use. Of those 90, 83 were unjustly accused and convicted. Six were acquitted and one died, reducing the number to 76 falsely imprisoned men, mostly evangelical Christians, serving sentences of 26 to 36 years in a maximum-security prison.
The intervening years have been filled with appeals, direct injunctions, petitions for review and, for some, recognition of innocence before the highest court in the land. A large group of prisoners was released in 2009. Of the 17 remaining prisoners, 15 were freed last year.
Now, attorney Dr. Maximiliano has informed the Open Doors Mexico Base Coordinator that the Supreme Court has declared our brother Antonio Perez innocent of the false accusations from the Acteal Case and ordered his immediate liberation. On April 30 at 7pm, he was released from the Amate prison. He has since been transported to the state capital of Chiapas to receive documents that finally declare him a free and innocent man-after 17 long years in prison.
Thank You, Father, for the release of Antonio Perez. We rejoice with him and his family; that they can now begin to rebuild their lives. We pray for them as they get to know one another again and establish their home as one that faithfully serves the Lord. Grant them favor in their community; that they might live at peace, and we pray for reconciliation with those in the Las Abejas group. We pray for the Spirit to pour out the reconciling power of Your gospel upon this region of Mexico; that Your Kingdom might be established there. In the name of Jesus, who is raising up a people called to Himself to worship Him in truth, Amen.