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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!
April 4, 2020
The government of Honduras must hold accountable any police and security forces who unnecessarily or unlawfully restrict the work of journalists who are exercising the constitutional guarantee of freedom of expression. On April 1, journalists Roger David Iraeta, Onán Zaldivar, and Edward Azael Fernández were reporting on a road blockade set up by residents on the highway from San Pedro Sula to Santa Bárbara as an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus COVID-19. The National Police and other public security forces threw tear gas canisters at the demonstrators to break up the blockade. The police assaulted the journalists, confiscated their equipment, and erased the footage they had just recorded. All three were taken to the police station in La Ceibita and held for several hours, unaware of what criminal charges were being brought against them.
April 3, 2020
Private security guards employed by the La Grecia Sugar Mill burned homes and used gunfire to forcibly evict families of the Cerro Escondido campesino cooperative from the land they have been farming In Choluteca Department since last year. There was no judicial warrant for this forced eviction. Police cooperated by cordoning off a section of nearby highway. Iris Argentina Álvarez Chávez, age 52, was shot dead. Her husband and others were wounded. We call on officials in Honduras to ensure that the families are able to return to their land and homes and that they be compensated. Additionally, we urge the adoption and enforcement of effective measures against forced evictions, in alignment with international norms. Iris Argentina Álvarez Chávez--¡presente!
April 2, 2020
#PorelDerechoaDefenderDerechos - As an active member of the Committee for Campesino Development (CODECA), Dominga Ramos Saljoj was a leader in the organized resistance against the privatization of electricity. The British-owned ENERGUATE, which has been waging a defamation campaign against CODECA leaders over the past several years, operates a monopoly in 80% of Guatemala. An assassin knocked on the door of the home of Dominga Ramos, said “This one is for you,” shot her 8 times, and took off on a motorcycle. Her daughter-in-law and grandchildren witnessed the gruesome murder. We must not allow impunity to continue for these assassinations. Dominga Ramos Saljoj - ¡presente!
April 1, 2020
Evelyn Johana Castillo is the assistant coordinator of the Ojojona Women's Network. In the mid-afternoon of March 24, Evelyn and her husband and adult daughter were out buying food when a police officer named Ramírez approached them, began to revise her daughter’s purse, then told Castillo to “shut up because you are disrespecting me.” The officer then ordered another officer (Andino) to take her into custody. Officer Andino began to aggressively detain Evelyn Castillo by pushing, pulling and shoving her. Evelyn Castillo says that this attack was actually a reprisal against her by Officer Ramírez. She explains that two days beforehand, a conflict arose when she came to the aid of a vendor in the park, defending her against Officer Ramírez who was trying to evict the vendor, even though her sales had been authorized by the municipal police. As Officer Ramírez placed Evelyn Castillo in the jail cell on March 24, the officer said to Evelyn: “You remember what happened the other day? You don’t think that I have forgotten.”
RRN Case Update
April 1, 2020
January, February, and March RRN case summaries at a glance
On behalf of our 190 Rapid Response Network members, IRTF volunteers write and send six letters each month to government officials in southern Mexico, Colombia, and Central America (with copies to officials in the US). Who is being targeted? indigenous and Afro-descendant leaders, labor organizers, LGBTI rights defenders, women’s rights defenders, journalists, environmental defenders, and others. By signing our names to these crucial letters, human rights crimes are brought to light, perpetrators are brought to justice and lives are spared. Our solidarity is more important than ever. Together, our voices do make a difference.
March 26, 2020
Police and military are using aggression against journalists in Honduras to impede their reporting of government suppression of civil rights during the emergency "stay-at-home" order issued by the national government on March 15. In addition to pushing and slapping journalists, security force personnel have damaged recording and broadcasting equipment. Channel 6 reporter Paola Cobos reported live about the physical aggression by National Police against her and her camerman in Tegucigalpa on March 24.
March 25, 2020
More than 500 people have been arbitrarily detained by police and military during a crackdown in the context of this health crisis. Yesterday, in a neighborhood of Comayagüela, neighborhood women prepared food and took it to the street. When five men gathered to share the meal, police arrested and locked them up in a nearby police station; police warned the women to stop any such solidarity activities and shut themselves in their houses. (After advocacy by the women, the men were later released.)
March 24, 2020
We are gravely concerned about the continued trend of assassinations against social leaders and human rights defenders. Four more assassinated in five days: Ivo Humberto Bracamonte Quiroz, Marco Rivadeneira, Angel Ovidio Quintero Gonzalez, Omar Guasiruma and Ernesto Guasiruma. In the context of COVID-19, they now face even greater risks: 1- attackers know that public security forces are focusing on issues related to the pandemic, 2-social leaders cannot flee danger because they are subject to restrictions imposed to contain the pandemic, and 3- state protection measures have been weakened.
March 23, 2020
Colombian Armed Forces killed 23 inmates when they used indiscriminate gunfire at La Modelo prison in Bogotá on March 22. La Modelo inmates had joined with prisoners across the country who were holding simultaneous protests against unhealthy conditions, overcrowding, and lack of protections against the COVID-19 coronavirus. Colombian courts have declared the lack of health and overcrowding illegal and in violation of the constitution. Immediate measures must be taken to alleviate overcrowding and improve sanitation and health in the prison system. Here's one: release the more than 300 political prisoners and prisoners of war who should already have been released under provisions of the 2016 Peace Accords.
March 22, 2020
The Colombian peace and justice organization Justapaz recently learned of a pamphlet where they were described as an immediate military target by the paramilitary group Águilas Negras (Black Eagles). The pamphlet is not the first time that Justapaz has been threatened. This threat, however, is much more specific; it threatens to target Justapaz members’ families and children at their schools. To protect the important and legitimate work of Justapaz, we are calling on the government of Colombia to take immediate action to protect members of Justapaz and their partners across the country.