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Honduras, 2/26/2017

Sr.Juan Orlando Hernández
President of Honduras

Sr. Oscar Chinchilla Banegas
Attorney General of Honduras

Dear Sirs:

 

We are writing to express our deep concern regarding the assassination of José de los Santos Sevilla, a teacher and leader of the indigenous Tolupán people. He was killed on the morning of February 17 in the community of La Ceiba in Montaña de la Flor in Francisco Morazán Department when five heavily armed men broke into his house and shot him multiple times.

 

José de los Santos Sevilla was active in bringing electricity to the community and a hospital to the town of Orica, and in promoting Tolupán culture.

 

This is a further example of the ongoing violence to the Tolupán people. Recently, a Global Witness report stated that, “For nearly a decade, Tolupán indigenous peoples from northern Honduras have been threatened, criminalized and killed for taking a stand against illegal logging and mining operations which have pillaged their resources without consulting communities. The Tolupán are the most marginalized indigenous group in Honduras, living in extreme poverty in remote rural areas with little access to basic services.”

 

The National Commission for Human Rights (CONADEH) has requested protective measures for the residents of Yerba Buena and La Ceiba. The level of violence is such that an estimated twenty children have stopped going to school because of attacks. One of our concerns is that this will lead to another forced displacement of the community.

 

We understand that the National Police, a mobile forensic unit, and a team from the Special Murder Investigations Unit are conducting an investigation into the murder of José de los Santos Sevilla.

 

In view of the information cited above, we strongly urge that you

  • immediately publish the results of the police investigation and bring those responsible to justice;
  • provide protective measures for the residents of Yerba Buena and La Ceiba as requested by

     CONADEH.

 

Sincerely,

 

Brian J. Stefan Szittai                           and                       Christine Stonebraker Martínez

Co-Coordinators