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Gender & Sexual Solidarity: News & Updates
November 30, 2021
It seems there was only one topic this month, the general elections. In the weeks running up to November 28, fear grew ever stronger of a repeat of 2017. A record number of candidates and their family members had been murdered. The JOH regime started an unprecedented vote-buying campaign handing out 7000 Lempiras to over 100’000 families. Days before the election, the new ID needed to vote had still not been distributed to everyone. And it was unclear if the new electoral bodies were up to the task as the National Party tried to undermine them all along the way. On election day, reports of voting centers opening late, long lines, more vote-buying and intimidation of voters further compounded the fear of another electoral fraud. The National Party also seemed to believe in its own capacity to steal elections and announced their victory already by mid-day. But then everything changed as the first results were published. Hondurans went to the polls in higher numbers than feared (participation is estimated at around 69%) and the opposition candidate Xiomara Castro led with 53.55% over Nasry Asfura's 33.87% with 46.5% of votes counted. In the remaining days of November, her victory was recognized by all other parties and even JOH himself. While the fight about the new configuration of Congress will be fought in December, it seems not too optimistic to say: Welcome to a new month in Honduras. In solidarity, Daniel Langmeier Honduras Forum Switzerland.
November 17, 2021
Thank you to the more than 120 people who attended the IRTF annual Commemoration of the Martyrs online on Sunday, November 7. You helped to create a beautiful and moving tribute to human rights defenders throughout southern Mexico, Central America, and Colombia. Here you will find links to (1) Commemoration program book 2021, (2) Zoom recording of the event, (3) Facebook livestream recording, (4) playlist from the social hour, (5) an additional play list, (6) how you can add your name to urgent human rights letters, (7) donations for the Honduras support fund, (8) IRTF Legacy Circle planned giving fund, and (9) highlights from the speakers' presentations. Thank you!
October 24, 2021
We wrote to officials in Honduras expressing our outrage about violence waged against three LGBTI leaders in three areas of the country: Erika Tatiana Martínez García, who was murdered in her home on September 26 (Copán Department), Fausto Vásquez, whose bed was set on fire on September 30 (La Paz Department), and Victoria Rodríguez, who was beaten in her home on October 7 (Comayagua Department). LGBTI rights groups report that 390 LGBTI people have been murdered in Honduras in the past 12 years, including 17 this year. In only nine percent of the cases has there been a murder conviction; more than 90 percent of the cases remain in impunity. Tatiana's murder, Fausto’s harassment, and Vicky’s attack must all be seen as transgressions against protections that human rights defenders should receive. The government of Honduras should adhere to the ruling handed down by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights (June 28, 2021) when it found the State responsible for the murder of transwoman Vicky Hernández on June 28, 2009. There must be accountability and an end to the impunity provided to the perpetrators of these crimes.
RRN Case Update
September 30, 2021
September 2021 - RRN Letters Summary
Please see below a summary of the letters we sent to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries. We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: -protect people living under threat -demand investigations into human rights crimes -bring human rights criminals to justice IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) volunteers write six letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn , or ask us to mail you hard copies.
RRN Case Update
September 30, 2021
SEP 2021: RRN letters summaries
SEP 11 2021. COLOMBIA. assassinated: student leader Esteban Mosquera . SEP 12 2021. HONDURAS. forced eviction: campesino families in Guaimaca . SEP 23 2021. HONDURAS. intimidation and assault: Donny Reyes, defender of LGBT rights. SEP 24 2021. GUATEMALA. assassinated: campesino and land rights leader Ramón López Jiménez. SEP 25 2021. COLOMBIA. death threats: journalist José Alberto Tejada. SEP 26 2021. HONDURAS. threatened: journalists Deyni Menjivay and Héctor Madrid
September 23, 2021
Donny Reyes, an active member of the Arcoiris (Rainbow) Association—as well as the director of CIPRODEH (Center for Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights)—has been the victim of intimidation, including assault. Two days after a private security guard was seen recording Donny Reyes exiting the office of SOMOS-CDC (Center for Development and Cooperation of the LGTBI Community), unknown persons assaulted him on the street. They stole his personal documents, those of his partner, and also other work belongings. This attack occurred just one day after he filed an appeal against the Honduran government for denying him the right to marriage. We believe that these acts of intimidation against Donny Reyes are occurring because of his work in promoting equal rights—specifically, marriage equality—for the LGTBI community in Honduras. We urge that officials in Honduras expedite to the National Protection Mechanism any requests for protection measures being solicited by Donny Reyes. The government must ensure the right of all LGTBI defenders to carry out their work for justice in safety, under protection of the law, and without the threat of reprisal.
August 9, 2021
Trade unionist Ruby Castaño is a leader in the FENSUAGRO agricultural trade union and a human rights defender. Colombia remains the world’s deadliest country for trade unionists, with at least 20 killed between March 2020 and April 2021, according to the International Trade Union Confederation. No trade union has been more violently targeted than FENSUAGRO, which has seen around 35 members killed since Colombia’s peace agreement was signed in late 2016. However, its members continue to campaign tirelessly around the labour, human and social rights of rural communities. In our interview with Ruby, she discusses her life as a trade unionist and human rights defender, and why Colombia is so dangerous for those who fight for a fairer society. (source: Justice for Colombia’s ongoing series that focuses on the important work of women activists in Colombia and the challenges they face.)
July 19, 2021
The case of the 17 year old student Riccy Mabel Martínez puts in the public eye the most extreme violence that women in Honduras suffer: femicide. July 13, 2021 marked 30 years since the violent murder of the student, violated and assassinated with rage by military personnel in a case in which impunity took precedence. "It was the femicide that marked a precedent, above all for the fight against the violent deaths of women," said the coordinator for el Observatorio de Derechos Humanos de Mujeres (CDM), Helen Ocampo, to Criterio.hn. However, these crimes "with the years have been normalized more," she added. Between 2011 and 2020, 4,707 violent deaths of women were registered, according to CDM.
June 30, 2021
Please see a summary of the letters we sent to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries. We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: (1) protect people living under threat, (2) demand investigations into human rights crimes, and (3) bring human rights criminals to justice. IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) volunteers write six letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn , or ask us to mail you hard copies.
June 22, 2021
Pride Month is a time to celebrate, but also a time of heightened danger to those who are out in the LGBTQ+ community. In Guatemala, two transwomen leaders were assassinated in just two days: Cecy Ixpata and Andrea González. On June 9, Cecy Ixpata, a member of the trans rights group Otrans Reinas de la Noche (Queens of the Night) and Red Latinoamericana y del Caribe de Personas Trans (RedLacTrans), died in a hospital in Salamá, Baja Verapaz Department, from sustained injuries suffered in a violent attack in a very public place: a fruit and vegetable market. On June 11, Andrea González, the legal representative of Otrans Reinas de la Noche, was shot dead only meters from her home in zone two of Guatemala City. She was a fellow of the U.S. State Department's International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and a collaborator with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).