OCTOBER 2022: Rapid Response Network – summary of letters this month
Rapid Response Network (RRN) letters this month
21 OCT 2022
assassinated: journalist and social leader Rafael Emiro Moreno Garavito --¡presente!
So far this year, seven journalists in Córdoba Department have received death threats. Six of the cases were registered in Montelíbano. On October 16, journalist Rafael Emiro Moreno Garavito was fatally shot by two motorcyclists in Montelíbano. The investigative reporter was also a respected social leader in his community in Puerto Libertador municipality, Córdoba. At the time of his assassination, he was carrying out several investigations related to criminal and disciplinary complaints by his neighbors.
Rafael Moreno worked for the independent news outlet Voces de Códoba. Because he had been receiving threats for several years due to his investigative reporting, Rafael was enrolled in the national protection program (UNP).
We are urging that authorities in Colombia: (1) conduct a transparent investigation into the assassination of Rafael Emiro Moreno Garavito, determine whether the motive was connected to his professional journalism, find both the intellectual and material authors of the killing, and bring those responsible to justice; (2) provide protection for the team of journalists at Voces de Córdoba, under agreed upon conditions, and (3) clarify whether the UNP’s security mechanism had been in place on October 16 and, if not, provide the reasons why not.
You can read the full letter at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-10-21-000000
22 OCT 2022
kidnapping and assassination: journalist Edwin Josué Andino and his father Edwin Emilio Andino -- ¡presente!
Journalist Edwin Josué Andino Canaca, age 23, was brutally murdered in Comayagüela, Francisco Morazán Department, on the morning of Monday, October 10. After being kidnapped from his home in the Villa Franca neighborhood, his dead body was found on a street in the same neighborhood. He was wearing underwear, his mouth covered with adhesive tape. There were several gunshots to his face.
This was a double homicide. His father, Edwin Emilio Andino Amador, age 48, was also kidnapped from the same house. Witnesses reported that the journalist and his father were taken by force by several individuals in police clothing, driving in a vehicle similar to a police patrol car. His father was found murdered in the Policarpo Paz García neighborhood, about 15 kilometers away.
This murder brings the total of journalists slain in Honduras this year to five. Of the nearly 100 journalists killed over the past 20 years, only 18 cases have been prosecuted.
Edwin Josué Andino Canaca and Edwin Emilio Andino Amador, ¡presente!
You can read the full letter at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-10-22-000000
23 OCT 2022
assassinated: social leader Melissa Núñez, trans woman and defender of LGBTI rights -- ¡presente!
The statistics on violent crimes against members of the sexual diversity community are alarming. Since the coup d’etat in 2009, there have been 131 transgender persons killed in Honduras.
Melissa Núñez, age 25, was born as Kelvin Núñez. She was a well-known human rights defender. Because of her activism for sexual and gender minorities, Melissa had a strong following on social media, with over 20,000 followers on TikTok. As Melissa was walking to her home in Morocelí, El Paraíso Department, on October 19, unknown hooded assassins got out of a car and shot her several times—in the middle of the afternoon. She died as the result of two gunshots to her head.
Melissa Núñez became the 34th LGBTI+ person killed in Honduras this year, and the 434th member of the sexual diversity community murdered since the 2009 coup d’etat. The rate of impunity for crimes against the sexual diversity community is 91%.
Melissa Núñez, ¡presente!
You can read the full letter at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-10-23-000000
24 OCT 2022
threatened: environmental leader Christopher Castillo
Environmentalist Christopher Castillo has, since January 2020, been a beneficiary of Security Measures from the Protection Mechanism for Human Rights Defenders in Honduras, due to previous attempts on his life and repeated death threats he has received. Christopher is the general coordinator of ARCAH (Alternative for Community and Environmental Vindication of Honduras).
ARCAH has been a thorn in the side of private development investors whose money is pouring into the controversial ZEDEs (Zones of Employment and Economic Development, also known as “Model Cities,” or “Charter Cities”). Recently, ARCAH has been denouncing that the Bay Islands forest is being destroyed by construction of a luxury hotel in Roatán by the ZEDE Próspera, just a few meters from the coral reef. ZEDE board members and executives are harassing and threatening Christopher Castillo.
You can read the full letter at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-10-24-000000
25 OCT 2022
threatened: Indigenous Wiwa communities in La Guajira on Caribbean coast
The Wiwa are one of four Indigenous groups (along with the Arhuaco, Kogui, and Kankuamo) who reside on the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta in La Guajira Department, one of the highest coastal mountain ranges on the planet, with snow-capped peaks rising from the Caribbean Sea to 5,800 meters. The Indigenous peoples believe that the mountain range is the heart of the world, where every element, object and organism from the highest peak to the stream below, forms an indispensable part of an interconnected body. Because of their spiritual beliefs that the mountains are sacred, the Wiwa have strongly denounced development and infrastructure projects in the area, including coal and gold mining, oil extraction, a coal port, hydroelectric dam, and a hotel—all of which have been carried out without their consent. Almost all of their primary forests have been wiped out. The Wiwa peoples have put forth legal challenges and, as a result, continue to receive threats.
In October, the paramilitary organization Autodefensas Conquistadoras de la Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta (Self-Defense Conquistadors of the Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta) began distributing pamphlets, threatening to take measures against the Wiwa, whom they describe as "ass-kissers, drinkers, womanizers," among other adjectives. They are restricting the mobility of the residents, warning that anyone who is traveling after 8 p.m. in the territory will be declared a military objective. In other words, they will be targeted for killing.
You can read the full letter at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-10-25-000000
26 OCT 2022
killed in detention: Henry Eleazar Joya, buried in mass grave
We wrote once again to the attorney general and human rights ombudsman of El Salvador to express our concerns over human rights abuses occurring during the State of Exception, which was first declared in March and has since been prolonged multiple times. It has resulted in countless arrests and deaths in detention or on the streets. The laws and regulations authorized through this emergency state have invited serious human rights violations. Despite outcries from Salvadorans and international organizations and governments, it shows no signs of stopping.
This letter focuses on the death of detainee Henry Eleazar Joya. He was detained during a wave of mass arrests in April. His family was informed in September that Henry was dead and had been buried in a common grave, registered under a false name. A fellow inmate stated that Henry had been beaten in prison and was seriously injured.
Tens of thousands of suspected gang members have been arrested over the past seven months. Civil society organizations have documented more than 3,000 cases of abuse and torture, including the cases of at least 87 who died while detained. The University Observatory of Human Rights (OUDH) has documented at least 63 cases of cruel and degrading treatment, including cases of arbitrary arrests, deaths of detainees in custody, torture, and prison overcrowding.
We are urging the government of El Salvador to immediately suspend the State of Exception and restore constitutional protections to is citizens.
You can read the full letter at: https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-10-26-000000
Rapid Response Network
InterReligious Task Force on Central America & Colombia
3606 Bridge Ave., Cleveland OH 44113
(216) 961 0003. www.IRTFcleveland.org