MEXICO CITY (AP) – The discovery of 129 bodies in clandestine graves during months of searching for 43 missing students highlights a crisis of enforced disappearances in Mexico, Amnesty International said Monday.
The international human rights watchdog called the situation troubling not only in the state of Guerrero, where the students disappeared last September, but in other parts of the country.
"This latest macabre revelation confirms what we had already found: The sheer magnitude of the crisis of enforced disappearances in Guerrero and elsewhere in Mexico is truly shocking," Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty's Americas director, said in a statement.
The statement came in response an AP report the previous day in which federal officials, acting on a freedom of information request, said the 129 bodies had been found in 60 clandestine graves between October and May. Only 16 of the remains had been identified as of July 13.
None of the corpses have been matched to the students from the Ayotzinapa rural teachers college, who disappeared after a deadly clash with police Sept. 26 in the city of Iguala. Prosecutors say the 43 students were seized by police, handed over to drug gang members, killed and incinerated.
The victims' families and many others doubt the official story, however. Relatives continue to pressure the government for an account they deem credible, and the high-profile case has drawn international attention to the broader problem of people going missing in regions afflicted by drug cartel violence.
"If it weren't for the persistent determination of the families of the Ayotzinapa students, as well as human rights defenders and journalists in demanding from the Mexican authorities a comprehensive response to the enforced disappearance of the young men, we might never even have known about these mass graves and the dimensions of the crisis," Guevara-Rosas said.
The number of bodies and graves found could possibly be higher, the federal attorney general's office said, because its response to the freedom of information request covers only those instances in which its mass grave specialists got involved.
More than 20,000 people are listed as missing across Mexico, with many of the "disappeared" in Guerrero.