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BCTF News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE November 21, 2014

Remarks by BC Teachers' federation President Jim Iker

As President of the BC Teachers’ Federation—a union that has stood in solidarity for many years with our brothers and sisters across Latin America—I am very proud and deeply saddened to be here today. 

For the past 25 years we have worked together with the democratic teachers’ movement of Mexico through the Tri-National Coalition in Defense of Public Education. 

Over the decades we have built strong bonds of friendship and solidarity, as well as a deep understanding of the challenges facing public educators in both our countries. 

Many of the issues are the same, but there is one fundamental and profound difference. Here in Canada we are free to express our views and advocate for our students without fear. 

In the struggle for quality public education for all, our Mexican colleagues risk their lives, and too often they lose their lives. 

This terrible fact should be a source of deep shame for the Mexican government. 

What kind of society kills its teachers? Those who dedicate themselves to the next generation, to building a better future?

I am here today to offer the full weight of our voice—the 41,000 public school teachers in British Columbia—in this international call for justice. 

There is no room in this world for the persecution, torture, and murder of teachers, educators, and students who advocate for their communities and for public education. 

And the fact that government officials, including the town’s mayor and police have already been arrested as suspects is especially appalling. 

Since news of the missing 43 student teachers first broke, authorities have found multiple mass graves and dozens of bodies… but none of them are the students we are seeking. 

We must see justice for the 43 disappeared student teachers in Mexico. 

We call on all levels of government in Mexico to end the corruption and persecution that has put so many teachers’ and students’ lives at risk.

These reports of torture, burnings, and mass killings are atrocities. They are state crimes against humanity, and they must stop. 

The world must put pressure on the government of Mexico to take meaningful action and end this atrocious epidemic of torture and killings. 

Today, as teachers and as concerned global citizens, the BC Teachers’ Federation stands in solidarity with the unions, teachers, students, and all Mexicans who are demanding justice. 

We also stand in solidarity with the families who have lost so many of their loved ones. We grieve along with them, and honour their memories.
 
Today, BC teachers join the growing international call for action, and demand that the Mexican government bring those responsible for the disappearance of the 43 student teachers before the courts and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law. 

We will continue to monitor this case, and will continue to make our concerns known to the Mexican authorities here in Vancouver and in Mexico.

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For more information, contact Rich Overgaard, BCTF media relations officer, at 604-871-1881 (office) or 604-340-1959 (cell).