Urgent Action: solidarity with Garífuna communities in Honduras
The Afro-Indigenous ethnic Garífuna communities in Honduras urgently need our solidarity to echo the demands they brought to the government of Honduras this week to (1) investigate the forced disappearance of four young Garífuna community leaders, (2) defend their ancestral territories against land seizures by big corporations, and (3) enforce court orders by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights.
For decades, Garífuna communities along the Atlantic coast of Honduras have suffered violence, harassment, threats, unjust criminalization, killings, disappearances, and forced displacement due to power economic interests. This includes Honduran elites, the international tourist industry, investors in charter cities (aka ZEDEs), drug traffickers, industrial scale agriculture (e.g., palm oil plantations), and more. The government of Honduras has enabled the stealing of Garífuna lands because of its failure to protect and defend ancestral land rights of the Garífuna, as ordered by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights. In fact, the government has been either complicit in the repression or complicit through its utter lack of political and legal action to hold the powerful accountable for their crimes against the Garífuna people.
Two years after the July 18, 2020 forced disappearance of four young Garífuna defenders (Snider Centeno, Suami Mejía, Milton Martínez and Gerado Rochez from Triunfo de la Cruz), their disappearance remains in impunity with no serious investigation reported on by the authorities.
Almost eight years after the August 2015 Inter-American Human Rights Court (IAHR) ruling in favor of the communities of Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra, the measures ordered by the court to restore and protect Garífuna territories have still not been implemented by the Honduran state.
Send a letter to Honduran authorities in support of OFRANEH (Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras) and the Garífuna demands for justice and defense of their territories!
We understand that the violations in these cases were committed by the narco-coup regime and not the current administration, but we note that the newly elected government of President Xiomara Castro has inherited the responsibilities for justice related to both cases and is now responsible for guaranteeing the rights of the Garífuna people going forward. President Castro’s election was the result of 12 years of the people’s resistance, and it awakened hope for change in Honduras. Now is the time to act on these emblematic cases!
We at IRTF, a member of the Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN), support the following demands of OFRANEH and the Garífuna communities:
1. That the Honduran government provide information about the investigation of the forced disappearances of July 18, 2020 and expands that investigation as needed so that all the responsible parties in the illegal action are identified and the facts of the case are shared so that all those responsible are brought to justice.
2. That the Honduran government comply with the Inter-American Court of Human Rights rulings completely and as they are written, without further delay
3. That the criminalization and judicial prosecution of Garifuna leaders who are fighting to defend Garifuna territorial rights be ended immediately.
4. That as part of its responsibility for the rights of the Garifuna people, the Honduran government respect and comply with the International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169 for the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.
5. That the Honduran government appoint a special prosecutor with responsibility for investigating forced disappearances in Honduras. There are dozens of cases from the past 12 years still in impunity and sadly, there continue to be new forced disappearances through which powerful interests threaten the future of Honduras.