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Ayotzinapa was not in vain

Herrera Pahl Claudia Kommentarbild App
Claudia Herrera-Pahl
September 26, 2015

Exactly one year ago, 43 students in Mexico were reported missing. The still unresolved crime has shaken the Mexican state - thanks above all to the parents, writes DW's Claudia Herrera-Pahl.

Demonstration in Mexico (Photo: EPA/SASHENKA GUTIERREZ)
Image: picture-alliance/dpa/S. Gutierrez

It's been 365 days, and still there's no clarity over what happened on that deadly day, September 26, 2014, in the streets of Iguala. It was a night of terror, a night of indescribable horror. And although there are now many different versions of what happened, the truth has not yet emerged.

The Mexican people mourn

At first glance, this is a scenario that's nothing other than depressing and disheartening. However, as the parents mourn their loss on this September 26, they won't be alone. On this anniversary, the entire country will remember the missing 43. Not only will the Mexican people be honoring them, but also - and especially - their parents.

For it's been those parents who have reminded the nation day for day that there are unalienable rights for which one has to fight.

It's been a long year, and a long fight. And many Mexicans have criticized the parents for their methods, which they called inappropriate at times. Many said they were politically motivated. But what should these parents have done?

Overcome their "moment of sorrow," as Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto suggested this past December? Simply accept that the case would be closed, as the Mexican attorney general would announce a month later, assuring the population that "the historical truth of the events" was now firmly known? For him, the truth was that the young people had been the victims of a heinous act committed by the drug cartel "Guerreros Unidos."

An independent investigation has since torn apart that "historical truth." The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights would have never even begun its work on uncovering the truth of September 26, 2014, had it not been for the struggle of the parents of Ayotzinapa.

Breaking through the hush of fear

These parents have shown us that victims truly deserve historical truth. They alone can give the truth legitimacy.

These parents have taught us how to break the silence that arises from fear, and they have demonstrated that you don't need a title or wealth to do the right thing. The parents of Ayotzinapa have given us courage for the future.

There are thousands of crimes that still have to be solved in Mexico. This country has an obligation to fulfill toward some 25,000 missing people.

"We can't go home until we know what happened to our children." This is a simple-sounding sentence, but it stands for nothing less than the right to truth and justice.

Ayotzinapa was not in vain.