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Rapid Response Network
RRN’s team of letter-writers responds to six urgent human rights cases each month to
- protect people living under threat
- demand investigations into human rights crimes
- bring human rights criminals to justice
- ensure that human rights crimes are not happening in the dark.
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June 24, 2021
State security forces exercised brutal repression against demonstrators in the Chamelecón neighborhood of San Pedro Sula, Cortés Department, on June 18. Hundreds of residents of Chamelecón took to the streets to demand that the levee that protects their neighborhood from the waters of the Chamelecón River be repaired. Instead of having their voices heard and their needs responded to, they were faced with brutal repression by the National and Military Police.
June 23, 2021
We wrote to the Supreme Court of Justice of Honduras regarding the current trial of David Castillo, charged with the March 2, 2016 assassination of indigenous environmental defender Berta Cáceres. The extensive and detailed evidence submitted in this trial (and related prosecutions) demonstrates that David Castillo was part of a criminal structure that engaged in a range of crimes, including financial crimes and violence. Besides his trial for the murder of Berta Cáceres, David Castillo is also one of six people awaiting trial for corruption charges related to the construction of the Agua Zarca project. We urging that authorities in Honduras: (1) ensure that the judges overseeing the trial of David Castillo’s be able to make their decision without pressure from powerful actors interested in swaying the verdict and obscuring the truth about the intellectual authors of this crime; and (2) ensure that COPINH (Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) be permitted to be included in any future legal proceedings involving David Castillo and DESA, as is their right under Honduran law
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).
June 21, 2021
National Civil Police used violent repression against a peaceful demonstration by residents of the community of Chicoyogüito, municipality of Cobán, Alta Verapaz Department. In 1968 the Q'eqchi families of Chicoyogüito were dispossessed and uprooted from their land by the Guatemalan state. In their place, the government built Military Base #21, a center where the army carried out forced disappearance, torture, execution, and burial of hundreds of indigenous men, women, and children. On June 9, community members demonstrated in Cobán, asking authorities for the return of their ancestral lands. The National Civil Police beat and injured several people. They arrested 21 men.
May 28, 2021
Please see a summary of the six letters we sent to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, El Salvador, 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 volunteers write 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 for 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.
May 16, 2021
Five thousand members of the Indigenous Tolupán community of Agalteca in Yoro Department are being threatened with eviction. Tolupán lands contain precious resources, such as mahogany forests, silver, and iron oxide. To seize those resources, those with economic interests carry out attempts at forcible evictions (some successful). As a consequence of government concessions to mining companies over the past eight years, Tolupán communities have experienced an increase in evictions, as well as destruction of their land and waterways. Those who resist outside encroachment on their ancestral territories suffer attacks, murders, and judicial harassment. Over the past twenty years, forty Tolupán community members have been murdered.
May 15, 2021
Many sacrifices have been made by the people of El Salvador to build a democratic system of government. Tens of thousands fought and died for a democratic El Salvador during the civil war; one million people had to flee as refugees to escape the massacres and other armed violence. Now the president and members of the Legislative Assembly are actively weakening democracy. On May 1, a coalition of four political parties (led by the majority New Ideas party) wiped out the judiciary when it fired all five magistrates of the Constitutional Chamber of the Supreme Court without adhering to constitutionally-established justifications for doing so. Attorney General Raul Melara was also dismissed. We are calling on President Bukele and the Legislative Assembly to reverse the firing of the Supreme Court magistrates and grant them a defense hearing, as is their right under the law. Maintaining an independent judiciary is crucial to strengthening democracy in El Salvador.
May 14, 2021
The National Electric Power Company (ENEE) has been granting licenses to private companies to construct thermoelectric generation plants without the prior consultation and consent of impacted populations. In Baracoa, the National Police broke up a demonstration of residents along highway CA-13 by firing tear gas canisters at the residents. Residents are also concerned that they will not be given the opportunity to attend town meetings at which final approval for the electric generation plant will be given. Residents near other thermoelectric plants in Honduras face health risks from being exposed to constant emissions from turbines, including emissions from fuels so toxic that they are banned in other countries.
May 13, 2021
State-sponsored violence against popular demonstrations across Colombia has left upwards of 40 people dead. We are calling on the government to: (1) withdraw all military personnel from the streets because soldiers are trained for armed conflict, not for public safety; (2) investigate all reports of violence against demonstrators by security personnel and address any violations of human rights; (3) continue official talks with the National Strike Committee, which represents various groups including indigenous people, unions, environmentalists and students, to discuss key demands; (4) stop stigmatizing protesters and suggesting that they are linked to armed rebel groups; (5) guarantee the rights of peaceful assembly and to protest
May 12, 2021
National Police (and suspected military personnel as well) are waging armed violence against members of the Tolupán indigenous community of San Francisco de Locomapa in Yoro Department. 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 against illegal logging. Norma Yackelin Ávila suffered a gunshot. We are unsure how many others might have been wounded.