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Afro-Descendant & Indigenous: News & Updates
July 30, 2020
“The recent kidnapping of four Garífuna leaders, reportedly by Honduran police officials, reflects the continued determination of the country’s politically powerful to prevent progress in the fight for equal justice in Honduras. The Honduran government owes the international community an explanation as to what role state officials had in these egregious violations of human rights against the Garífuna community. It must ensure immediate, independent investigations into this kidnapping and answer for the repeated and ongoing attacks against community leaders, human rights defenders, and journalists."
July 27, 2020
OFRANEH (Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras) outlines several threats to the Garífuna communities of the Atlantic coast: 1- the government’s Model Cities (ZDEs) legislation that encourages land grabs of communal Garífuna territories; 2- the lack of prior consultation with communities before economic development projects are started (this is a violation of international law); 3- tourism industry; 4- industrial agriculture (palm oil), 5- climate change, 6- coastal erosion, 7- State violence as weapon of social control, 8- assassinations of community leaders, 9- exodus of young people , many fleeing to the US
July 24, 2020
"EU funding is not investing in security, justice, respect for the human rights of the Honduran people or guarantees for their defense, in addition to failing to comply with the commitments made in terms of foreign policy and gender equality. On the contrary, the evidence shows us that a repressive system is being strengthened against Lenca and Garífuna communities that are self-organising in defense of the environment, their territories and fundamental rights. In this regard, we would like to express our concern at the lack of attention and involvement of the European Union in the face of the violations of rights in Honduras and in particular of the communities, women and men who defend them."
July 24, 2020
On June 19, the body of Antonio Bernárdez, a 71-year-old leader of the Garífuna community of Punta Piedra, was discovered with bullet wounds and signs of torture. This was six days after he was disappeared. The Punta Piedra has been plagued by violence stemming from a land conflict since non-Garífuna families started settling there in 1992. The Inter-American Court of Human Rights has criticized the government for not adhering to its mandates to protect Garífuna ancestral lands and adequately investigate the murders of Garífuna community leaders. As recently as May 2019, the Court acknowledged that Garífuna community members are still experiencing "direct death threats," "blackmail, increased robbery," and "profiling of leaders." The forced disappearance of at least four Garífuna men from Triunfo de la Cruz on July 18 is evidence of the ever-present dangers faced by the Garífuna communities along the Atlantic coast (cf our letter July 20, 2020). We are demanding that authorities in Honduras 1- carry out a comprehensive and transparent investigation into the assassination of Antonio Bernárdez, publish the results, and bring the perpetrators to justice; 2- develop protection mechanisms for Garífuna communities and their leaders, in strict accordance with their wishes; and 3- adhere to all resolutions and judgments issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and the Inter-American Court of Human Rights to protect Garífuna ancestral lands, community residents and leaders.
July 23, 2020
Fears are growing for the safety of five black indigenous men in Honduras who were abducted from their homes on July 18 by heavily armed gunmen in police uniforms. The victims are Garifuna fishermen from the town Triunfo de la Cruz on the north coast. “We are under constant threat by those who want our land and natural resources,” said Jenny Ramona Herrera Álvarez, a community spokeswoman in Triunfo de la Cruz. “What happened on Saturday shows that powerful people who have illegally taken control of our territory are emboldened by the state’s contempt for the international court ruling. Justice means prosecuting those who ordered this crime,” said Miram Miranda, coordinator of OFRANEH (Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras). “The Honduran state created the context for conflicts by violating the community’s territorial rights over years..., and is directly responsible for these aggressions against the Garifuna community, ” said Joseph Berra, director of the human rights in Americas project at UCLA school of law.
July 23, 2020
For the past 23 years, the Santa Elena Project of Accompaniment has remained steadfast in its mission to support education in the returned refugee communities of Santa Elena 20 de Octubre and Copal AA La Esperanza in northern Guatemala, in addition to providing support for accompaniers working to protect human rights defenders through NISGUA (Network in Solidarity with Guatemala). SEPA's mission is to support human rights workers in Guatemala as well as assist with educational scholarships, teacher salaries and needs as requested in the villages of Santa Elena and Copal AA.
July 22, 2020
Rev. Dr. Emma Jordan-Simpson (Executive Director of the Fellowship of Reconciliation), Chrissy Stonebraker-Martinez (FOR Co-Chair) and Aaron Goggans (FOR Co-Chair) have a frank conversation about White Supremacy, How We Get Free and what it might mean to contemplate the death of U.S Empire.
July 20, 2020
We sent letters to officials in Honduras regarding the kidnapping on July 18 of four Garífuna leaders from the community of Triunfo de la Cruz, Atlántida Department. One of the four is Albert Sneider Centeno, president of the Community Board of Triunfo de la Cruz. They were kidnapped from their homes in the early morning by heavily armed men who were wearing bullet-proof vests and uniforms of the Policía Militar (Military Police) and the Dirección de Investigación Policial (DPI, Police Investigations Directorate). Others victims of the kidnapping include Milthon Joel Martínez Suany and Aparicio Mejía. We demand an immediate search to find the Garífuna leaders alive. We demand a thorough investigation process that will lead to the capture and prosecution of the kidnappers. We further demand that the State of Honduras cease all acts of violence and harassment against the Garífuna communities.
July 7, 2020
McGovern (D-MA) and Pocan (D-WI) 94 members of congress through a dear colleague letter urging Trump administration to push for peace in Colombia!
RRN Case Update
July 1, 2020
April, May and June RRN case summaries at a glance
On behalf of our 190 Rapid Response Network members, IRTF volunteers write and send six letters each month to government officials in southern Mexico, Colombia, and Central America (with copies to officials in the US). Who is being targeted? indigenous and Afro-descendant leaders, labor organizers, LGBTI rights defenders, women’s rights defenders, journalists, environmental defenders, campesinos, and others.