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Honduras: Protect campesinos after two shot dead

    Thursday, October 20, 2016 - 09:54

    "No more murders of campesinos in the Aguán region" reads a banner held up during a 2012 march by members of the Unified Campesinos Movement of the Aguán Valley. (Photo: AFP as at www.commondreams.org)

     

    On 18 October, José Ángel Flores and Silmer Dionisio George of the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán were murdered. Both human rights defenders were shot dead after attending a meeting with several campesino (peasant farmer) people in La Confianza settlement, Bajo Aguán region, north-eastern Honduras.

     

    In the afternoon of 18 October, unidentified armed men shot at José Ángel Flores, the president of the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán (Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguán, MUCA), and Silmer Dionisio George, a member of the same movement, multiple times as they left a meeting with several campesino people in La Confianza settlement. José Ángel Flores died immediately. Campesino activists took Silmer Dionisio George to the hospital, where he died as a result of the gunshots. The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted precautionary measures to both human rights defenders in 2014, along with another 121 leaders of the campesino movements in the region. The IACHR requested that Honduras take appropriate measures in order to protect their lives and personal integrity, given the high risk they were facing.

    A campesino leader of the Agrarian and Regional Platform of the Aguán Valley (Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguán) also covered by precautionary measures told Amnesty International that José Ángel Flores had constantly received threatening calls in the past year. Earlier this year Silmer Dionisio George had to leave the Bajo Aguán region because of repeated threats against him. The Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras, COFADEH) confirmed that both leaders faced constant threats because of their work as human rights defenders.



    Please send a message to the president without delay.

    • Start with Dear President and a sentence about yourself to make your message unique.
    • Urge him to take prompt, appropriate and effective measures to protect the lives and personal integrity of all the campesino human rights defenders covered by the IACHR precautionary measures 50/14 - Campesino Leaders of Bajo Aguán, Honduras.
    • Ask him to initiate a prompt, impartial and thorough investigation into the murders of José Ángel Flores and Silmer Dionisio George, to identify both the material and intellectual perpetrators, and to bring those responsible to justice.
    • Call on him to protect MUCA members in accordance with their specific needs.

     

    Send your message to

    Juan Orlando Hernández 

    Presidente de la República 

    Casa Presidencial Bulevar Juan Pablo II 

    Tegucigalpa, Honduras 

    Postage:    $2.50

    Email:     karlacueva144@gmail.com 

    Twitter:     @JuanOrlandoH 

     

    Please send a copy to

    Her Excellency Sofía Lastenia Cerrato Rodríguez

    Ambassador for Honduras

    151 Slater Street, Suite 805

    Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5H3

    Postage:    $.85

    Fax:         (613) 232-0193

    E-mail:     ambassador@embassyhonduras.hn  

     

    The Honourable Stéphane Dion

    Minister of Foreign Affairs

    111 Wellington Street

    Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6

    Postage:    None required

    Fax:         (613) 996-6562

    E-mail:     stephane.dion@parl.gc.ca

     

    National human rights commission:

    Roberto Herrera Cáceres

    CONADEH, Oficina Central

    Colonia Florencia Norte, Boulevard Suyapa

    Tegucigalpa, Honduras 

    Email:     y.hernandez@conadeh.hn  / sofia.caceres@conadeh.hn     

    Twitter:     @conadeh

     

    Additional information

    Attacks and threats against campesinos in Bajo Aguán, in the Department of Colón, intensified in 2009. The campesinos are working on issues of access to land in an area that is increasingly militarized and surrounded by miles of African palm plantations. Campesino communities have reported that there is a clandestine cemetery in the community of Panamá where they believe members of the movement have been buried. They have also been the victims of evictions in which excessive force was used. There are numerous investigations and legal proceedings against campesinos accused of land usurpation. 

    According to COFADEH, between 2010 and 2016, around 700 campesinos from the region were the subjects of legal proceedings. In the past year they have been the victims of six attacks, three kidnappings, 16 cases of permanent surveillance, five cases of infiltration of the movement and eight cases of harassment. According to the Coordinating Committee of Popular Organizations of the Aguán (Coordinadora de Organizaciones Populares del Aguan, COPA) there have now been 116 murdered campesino leaders in the Bajo Aguán region since 2010.

    In its last report on Honduras, the IACHR recommended that the Honduran authorities strengthen the Violent Deaths Unit of Bajo Aguán, as well as establish a roundtable with campesino representatives from different organizations in the area. The Commission also urged the authorities to strengthen efforts into the investigation of violent events that have occurred in the region and to punish both the material and intellectual authors of these incidents, in particular clarifying responsibility in case of possible involvement of state forces.

    For more information on the situation of human rights defenders and defenders of land, territory and environmental rights defenders in Honduras, see the reports 

    ‘We are defending the land with our blood’: Defenders of the land, territory and environment in Honduras and Guatemala (www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr01/4562/2016/en/)  and Defending human rights in the Americas: Necessary, legitimate and dangerous (https://www.amnesty.org/en/documents/amr01/0003/2014/en/). 

     

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    If you wish to receive updates on this case, email urgentaction@amnesty.ca. In the subject line, write “Keep me updated on UA 241 Honduras”.

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