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Environmental Human Rights: News & Updates
RRN Case Update
March 7, 2019
Honduras - case summaries 2018
Here is a summary of the 18 urgent actions that IRTF's Rapid Response Team responded to in 2018. We saw a significant increase in two areas of human rights violations: assassinations and criminalization of protest. Many of these occurred where communities (peasant, indigenous, Afro-descendant) are organizing resistance to protect their ancestral lands, waterways, and cultures against the enormous threats they are facing from mega-projects: extractive industries, industrial agriculture, hydro-electric dams, and other “development” projects. Police and military do the bidding of private companies—breaking up peaceful protest, beating demonstrators, and jailing leaders. This is a disturbing trend that threatens their ability to protect the environment and their democratic rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. (Even journalists reporting on these environmental defense movements are being attacked by police; see letter Nov 23).
RRN Case Update
March 7, 2019
Guatemala- case summaries 2018
Here is a summary of the 21 urgent action cases that the IRTF Rapid Response team responded to in 2018. We saw a significant increase in two areas of human rights violations: assassinations and criminalization of protest. Many of these occurred where communities are organizing resistance to protect their ancestral lands, waterways, and cultures against the enormous threats they are facing from mega-projects: extractive industries, industrial agriculture, hydro-electric dams, and other “development” projects. Police and military do the bidding of private companies—breaking up peaceful protest, beating demonstrators, and jailing leaders. This is a disturbing trend that threatens their ability to protect the environment and their democratic rights to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech. For more information on any of these cases, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org .
RRN Case Update
March 7, 2019
Colombia - case summaries 2018
More than one-third of the urgent action letters that IRTF's Rapid Response team wrote in 2018 were sent to officials in Colombia because of the disturbing increase in human rights abuses there (namely assassinations) targeting social leaders. Here is a summary of the 27 human rights cases. For more information on any of these cases, please contact email@example.com .
March 5, 2019
Guapinol Water Defenders Set Free! The 12 human rights defenders in this case have had their charges dropped as of Monday, March 4, 2019! The international attention on this pivotal case involving the right to clean water helped the judge in the case make the right decision to drop all charges and set these advocates free!
February 24, 2019
We wrote to officials in Mexico about the unjust criminalization of Froylán González, a member of CODEDI (Committee for the Defense of Indigenous Peoples) in Oaxaca. He was illegally detained on Feb 11, was beat up in detention, and released (but is still facing fabricated charges) . This kind of criminalization of social leaders is part of a systematic pattern by the state to undermine the rights of indigenous peoples. Over the past year, CODEDI has been the subject of several attacks: five murders, three other arbitrary arrests, three raid incidents, theft, and ongoing threats (cf our letter Nov 24 2018).
February 16, 2019
Camilo Atala, president of Ficohsa bank, protested after he was one of the 16 people whose names Congresswoman Borjas read from the security ministry’s inspector general report as a suspected plotter of the killing of environmental activist Berta Cáceres in 2016.
February 6, 2019
Death of Jakelin Caal in US custody highlights how land conflicts and displacement fuel flight from indigenous villages...The oil extracted from the palm fruits is used for biofuel and in all kinds of household products, from ice cream and instant noodles to lipstick and detergents..."Before there was palm and before there was sugar cane...we farmed watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumber, tomato, chile, papaya and other crops that helped our families subsist and also generated work," said community leader Albino Mejia...Starting in 2005, palm and sugar cane companies moved in to take over land rights for plantations, raising lease rates for subsistence farmers, and draining water sources used by those small farmers who still had access to land. As a consequence, people have been displaced. Many migrate north to the US.
February 5, 2019
The chief prosecutor’s office said it would seek formal charges against Roberto David Castillo Mejia for his alleged in the assassination of indigenous and environmental defense leader Berta Cáceres. Castillo Mejía Castillo was president of Empresa Desarollos Energeticos (DESA) when Cáceres was killed in 2016. Cáceres was a leader in her people's fight against the company’s construction of a hydroelectric dam, which would cause environmental destruction and cut off their access to their traditional waterway.
January 28, 2019
Globalization as a qualitatively new phase in the ongoing and open-ended evolution of world capitalism has been characterized above all by the rise of a globally integrated production, financial, and service system. In Central America, the transnational model of accumulation that took hold during the boom has involved a vast expansion of maquiladoras (assembly factories in Export Processing Zones, employing some 800,000), agro-industrial complexes, mining and raw material extraction, global banking, tourism, and the “retail revolution,” like the spread of Walmart...At the same time, the spread of transnational tourist complexes has turned Central America into a global playground. Local indigenous, Afro-descendant, and mestizo communities have fought displacement, environmental degradation, and the commodification of local cultures by tourist mega-projects such as the Ruta Maya throughout the regiona-projects Roatan in Honduras, San Juan del Sur in Nicaragua, Costa del Sol in El Salvador, or Guanacaste province in Costa Rica
January 22, 2019
Maya communities bore the brunt of almost four decades of a civil war that ended in 1996, leaving over 200,000 casualties, the majority indigenous Guatemalans, according to the United Nations. Now the mostly Maya organizations and many human rights groups worry that the violence is making a comeback: In just the last year, 26 members of mostly indigenous campesino organizations have been killed. "Guatemala is on the verge of a major human rights catastrophe," says Jo-Marie Burt, a senior fellow at the Washington Office on Latin America.