Sr. Juan Orlando Hernández
President of the Republic of Honduras
Sr. Oscar Chinchilla Banegas
Attorney General of Honduras
We are outraged at the murders of poet and LGBTI rights defender Gloria Carolina Hernández Vásquez (also known as Génesis Hernández) and Jorge Alberto Castillo in Tegucigalpa. Both collaborated with the Association for a Better Life (APUVIMEH), which operates Casa Renacer, a shelter for people with HIV/AIDS and those of the LGBTI community. It runs a youth project and a program for the prevention of HIV/AIDS and sexual infections
Génesis Hernández was a poet of protest whose poetry dealt with the sexual rights of women, including lesbians and bisexual women, as a way of giving visibility to these issues. She had taken part in many marches for LGBTI rights and recently had to flee the city because of threats against her. At midday on September 18 unknown men in two vans kidnapped Génesis Hernández outside her home in Tegucigalpa, took her to the Comayagüela area of the city, forced her out of the vehicle with her hands tied, made her stand against a wall, verbally abused her about her sexual orientation and subsequently shot her twice in the head.
On September 6, Jorge Alberto Castillo, one of the first people to claim LGBTI rights and a founding member of the Casa Renacer, was stoned to death near his home in the El Manchén barrio of Tegucigalpa.
These killings follow the murders this summer of LGBTI rights defenders Angy Ferreira, Juan Carlos Cruz Andara and Violeta Rivas (cf our letter of September 24). They also represent a pattern of intimidation against members of APUVIMEH, which includes the following:
July 31 - Sandra Zambrano, Director of APUVIMEH, together with staff and volunteers Cristian Daniel Cortes Sagastume, Silvio Gerardo Artola and Carlos Alberto Cardona Varela were detained by police without explanation in Comayaguela, held for 24 hours, denied a phone call, access to food or water, reading of their rights or information about the reasons for their detention.
March 3 - Efraín Salomón Silva, an APUVIMEH volunteer, was attacked in Lepaterique in Francisco Morazán Department by unidentified men who verbally abused and used discriminatory language against him. He reported the attack, but, to date, no investigator has been assigned to the case.
Because of our continuing concern for the lives of LGBTI rights defenders we strongly urge you to
- carry out an immediate, thorough and impartial investigation into the killings of Génesis Hernández and Jorge Alberto Castillo, as well as into the arbitrary detention and subsequent harassment of Sandra Zambrano, Cristian Daniel Cortes Sagastume, Silvio Gerardo Artola, Carlos Alberto Cardona Varela, and the attack on Efraín Salomón Silva, publish the results and bring those responsible to justice;
- take all necessary measures to guarantee the security of all staff and volunteers at APUVIMEH and all LGBTI rights defenders in Honduras, including implemention of all protection measures granted to APUVIMEH by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights
Brian J. Stefan-Szittai Christine Stonebraker-Martínez