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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.
Save a life. Demand justice. Join the RRN!
May 11, 2021
A man was approached by unknown persons on the streets of the Garífuna community Nueva Armenia and threatened: “if you do not want to die, stop hanging around Mabel Robledo, because we have already been authorized them to kill her." A half-hour earlier, an unknown individual entered Mabel Robledo's place of business and threatened: “…we are going to kill you.” This occurred after Mabel Robledo denounced before local and national officials the appropriation of ancestral Garífuna territories by palm growers and the extraction of sand from the Papaloteca River by drug traffickers.
April 30, 2021
Juan María Cruz is a member of Triunfeño Front in Defense of Life and the Social Environmental Movement of the South for Life (MASS-Vida, Movimiento Ambientalista Social del Sur por la Vida). He was threatened with a firearm by individuals linked to landowners in the logging industry in the community of Santa Catarina in El Triunfo municipality, Choluteca Department. MASS-Vida works to preserve land, water, beaches, and forests in Valle and Choluteca Departments, putting them at odds with companies engaged in extraction of natural resources. As a result, members of MASS-Vida have been subject to criminalization, persecution and selective assassinations, which involve the military, police, and paramilitary forces that are defending the interests of extractivist companies.
April 29, 2021
In Quiché Department, Indigenous journalist Anastasia Mejía Tiriquiz faces up to 12 years in prison on trumped up charges following an arrest in August 2020 while reporting on an Indigenous-led protest against a local mayor’s alleged corruption in distribution of COVID-19 assistance. Her trial has been delayed multiple times. We believe that the judicial delays and continued obstacles to Anastasia Mejía’s reporting are attempts to silence the voices of Indigenous peoples, to conceal information on corruption and human rights abuses, and to generate fear among communities. This is the third letter we have written regarding the journalist’s false criminalization since September 2020.
April 28, 2021
To protect the autonomy and ancestral culture of the Nasa Indigenous Peoples, local governor Sandra Liliana Peña Chocué rejected pressures from illegal armed groups who promote the expansion of illicit crops, illegal mining, and drug trafficking. She reported to the authorities that she was receiving threats from illegal groups that exercise territorial control in Cauca Department. They didn't like that she was so outspoken against the increase in illicit crop cultivation in the La Laguna-Siberia Indigenous reserve. On April 20, four unidentified armed men violently abducted her from her home and shot her. She died on the way to the hospital.
April 23, 2021
As manager of César Uribe Piedrahita Hospital in Caucasia, Antioquia Department, Dr. Luis Octavio Gutiérrez Montes denounced incidents of corruption and other irregularities, including a union that outsourced health personnel and wanted to declare bankruptcy to evade payments. On April 14 he became the second worker at César Uribe Piedrahita Hospital to be shot dead in less than a year. Anesthesiologist Oscar Pastrana, who also denounced irregularities in 2019, was found dead in Bogotá in December 2020. The hospital is located in the Bajo Cauca region, which is experiencing turf wars among armed groups: the paramilitaries Clan del Golfo and Los Caparrapos, as well as the guerrilla rebel group ELN (Ejército de Liberación Nacional) and dissident factions of the FARC (Fuerzas Armadas Revolucionarias de Colombia).
April 22, 2021
The Council for the Integral Development of Peasant Women (CODIMCA) has been outspoken against the government's embezzlement and diversion of more than 280 million dollars designated for agricultural projects to the 2013 electoral campaigns of major political parties. The women are being attacked in attempts to silence their voices that denounce corruption and demand justice. On April 14, armed men entered the CODIMCA office in Tegucigalpa seeking Yasmin López, general coordinator. When CODIMCA members refused to provide any information on the whereabouts of Yasmin López, they tied up and beat two colleagues from the technical team, searched the offices, and took several computers containing confidential information.
April 11, 2021
Two unknown persons ambushed Wayuu Indigenous leader Aura Esther García Peñalver and shot her to death as she and her husband were riding into their community on a motorcycle. Since March 15 she had been receiving telephone and text message threats. Her requests for protection from authorities for herself and the women of the Wayúu community were not honored. For more than three decades, Wayúu communities in La Guajira have been harmed by operations at the El Cerrejón Coal Mine. In December 2020, the Constitutional Court of Colombia found that the mine had been damaging the health of area residents. The company’s response to a court order to improve air quality and reduce the mine’s harm to residents has been totally inadequate.
March 30, 2021
Wesent letters to the president and attorney general of Colombia about the assassinations of social leaders (as well as other human rights crimes) that occurred during the last week of March. Those killed include: (1) Carlos Andrés Bustos Cortes, a former FARC combatant enrolled in the reincorporation process. Puerto Asis, Putumayo. March 23 2021. (2) Carlos Alberto Vidal, president of SINTRACOS sugar workers union. Flórida, Valle del Cauca Department. March 29 2021. (3) José Santos López, 54-year-old Awá indigenous leader, and Jhon Edwar Martínez, a 22-year-old Awá indigenous man. Tumaco, Nariño Department. March 29 2021. We echo the call by the United Nations Mission in Colombia, urging “the implementation of concrete measures for the comprehensive protection of all communities as well as the strengthening of security guarantees in the territories affected by the violence.”
March 25, 2021
Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante, age 41, was president of the Nueva Granada Board of Trustees and a leader of the local Lenca indigenous community in his hometown of Chinda, Santa Bárbara Department. On March 21, unknown assailants fired 40 shots at him in front of his children as they were returning from his mother’s house in the village of Nueva Granada, municipality of San Antonio in Cortés Department. Juan Carlos Cerros Escalante led Communities United of Chinda, a local group opposing the “El Tornillito” hydroelectric dam that is being constructed by HIDROVOLCÁN (Hidroeléctrica El Volcán Company) in hamlets near the Rio Ulúa. This dam, which will be the second largest in Honduras, will mean the disappearance of ten communities of an indigenous Lenca population because the livestock, crops and houses of these two municipalities would drown, and their inhabitants would be forced to move.
March 24, 2021
For the past few years, residents of El Guapinol have been organizing against the operations of an iron ore mine that is contaminating the Guapinol and San Pedro Rivers, water sources for populations across three departments in northern Honduras. Eight environmental defenders have been held in "pre-trial detention" since September 2019. The UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention stressed that there is no legal reason to hold these eight men in pre-trial detention and that there is no legal reason to prosecute them. The UN Working Group also recommended that those responsible for the illegal detention should be investigated, suggesting that the State is punishing them for exercising their legitimate rights in defending the environment.