Blanca Sarahí Izaguirre Lozano, National Commissioner for Human Rights of Honduras
Lica. Karla Eugenia Cueva Aguilar, Secretary for Human Rights of Honduras
May 12, 2021
Dear Commissioner Izaguirre and Secretary Cueva:
We are outraged at the violence inflicted upon members of the Tolupán indigenous community of San Francisco de Locomapa in Yoro Department who are defending their land, natural resources and way of life. On May 5, National Police fired on their encampment (Campamento Digno por la Defensa del Bosque y el Territorio Tolupán) that was set up to protect a pine forest. Norma Yackelin Ávila suffered a gunshot. We are unsure how many others might have been wounded.
For many years, Tolupán communities have been organizing to defend their ancestral lands from the economic interests of outsiders: large private landholders, hydroelectric dam companies, mining companies, and the timber industry. Many are members of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ). Since 2013 we have written several letters to officials in Honduras to demand investigations into the killings of several Tolupán residents.
The current conflict is tied to the lumber company INMARE, which is illegally extracting wood from Tolupán indigenous territory. While police (patrol PN-952) were violently holding back the indigenous demonstrators, employees of the businessman Wilder Dominguez took the opportunity to repair and take away a truck that is used to transport wood. Those present reported that at least four hooded military soldiers accompanied the police. There were also attacks against the community radio station (Radio Dignidad Tolupán) that resulted in destruction of some equipment.
Although the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary measures for the protection of 18 MADJ members and their families, mostly Tolupanes, in 2013, state-sponsored violence against Tolupanes continues.
We strongly urge that you
- conduct a thorough and transparent investigation into the violence against the Campamento Digno por la Defensa del Bosque y el Territorio Tolupán, publish the results, and bring those responsible to justice
- instruct the National Police and military to stop violent repression against peaceful assemblies who are defending their territories and the environment, such as the Campamento Digno por la Defensa del Bosque y el Territorio Tolupán
Brian J. Stefan Szittai and Christine Stonebraker-Martinez, Co-Coordinators