Rapid Response Network (RRN) letters this month
21 JUL 2022
threatened: Fredy García, defender of 200-year-old Indigenous Maya-Chortí cemetery being destroyed by US gold mining company Aura Minerals
Despite a court order to stop expansion of its open-pit gold mining operations in La Unión, Miami-based Aura Minerals continues the destruction of an Indigenous Maya Chortí community in Copán Department in western Honduras. At the heart of the matter for local residents is the contamination of vital water sources and the destruction of their 200-year-old Azacualpa community cemetery As we described in previous letters (cf December 2, 2021; January 25, 2022, April 11, 2022) army and police were deployed to ensure the exhumations of graves, to facilitate expansion of the San Andrés gold mine, which is owned by US- and Canada-based Aura Minerals and operated by its Honduran subsidiary MINOSA (Minerales de Occidente SA). On March 30, 2022, the government of Honduras ordered MINOSA to stop its operations, but the destruction has continued.
Those who try to protect their water sources and cemetery are regularly threatened. Fredy García, a resident of Azacualpa, filed a complaint with the Public Ministry against Jacobo Paz, a manager of the San Andrés gold mining project, and Dimar Miranda Pérez, a contractor for the mining company, because of the contamination of a vital water source. In retaliation, people have been coming to the home of Fredy García and threatening him.
You can read the full letter at: https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-07-21-000000
22 JUL 2022
assassinated: Julián David Ochoa Rueda social and environmental leader in Antioquia -- ¡presente!
Attacks on social leaders continue with impunity. Since the Peace Agreement was signed in November 2006, 1,318 social leaders have been murdered, with at least 91 this year.
Julián David Ochoa Rueda was an active member of the left political coalition Historic Pact (Pacto Histórico). As such he had been active in promoting the electoral campaign of Gustavo Petro and Francia Márquez for the presidency and vice-presidency, respectively. In Granada, Petro’s opponent Rodolfo Hernández won with a wide margin.
In the early morning hours of June 27, Julián was killed with a shotgun the small town of Santa Ana in Granada municipality, Antioquia Department. During the attack, his domestic partner, the mother of his 4-month-old infant, received injuries caused by a machete.
There must be an end to impunity for these attacks on social leaders. We are calling on authorities in Colombia to conduct a thorough and impartial investigation into the killing of Julián David Ochoa Rueda with the goal of finding the intellectual and material authors of the attack, publish the results, and bring those responsible to justice.
You can read the full letter at: https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-07-22-000000
23 JUL 2022
threatened: Indigenous Tolupán tribe in Yoro, by logging company and national forest management plans
National and regional forest management plans are threatening the ancestral forests of the Indigenous Tolupán people of Yoro Department.
Because deforestation has caused some water sources to go dry, the Tolupán Tribe of San Francisco de Locomapa tribe has asked the National Institute for Conservation and Forest Development (ICF) to take action to protect their forest rights. Police and courts routinely side with the interests of private companies instead of protecting the tribe. Police have attacked some community members. Nine Tolupán defenders are facing criminalization instigated by the INMARE logging company. The tribe has recorded at least ten murders of Tolupán land rights leaders, even some who had precautionary measures.
We urge that authorities in Honduras:
-promote and protect forest management policies that only allow Tolupan communities direct participation in activities for their own development
-protect the land rights of residents, workers and their families from any attacks by INMARE logging
-hold accountable the police and other local authorities to respect the rights of the Tolupán communities
You can read the full letter at: https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-07-23-000000
24 JUL 2022
criminalized: María Magdalena Cuc Choc, community defender against El Estor nickel mine, senetenced to 2 years
We wrote once again to officials in Guatemala about the unjust criminalization of environmental defenders who are part of the local resistance to the El Fénix nickel mine in El Estor (Izabal Department), run by the Guatemala Nickel Company (CGN) and owned by Switzerland-based Solway Investments. Residents of El Estor have been victims of land grabbing, arson, and repression. The contamination of Lake Izabal has had severe consequences on the local fishing community.
María Magdalena Cuc Choc was first detained and unjustly criminalized in 2018 for the alleged crimes of threats, illegal detention and aggravated usurpation during the eviction of the community of Chab’il Ch’och’ in 2017. On June 27, 2022 the judge acquitted her of two crimes but sentenced her to two years for the charge of aggravated usurpation. She was given the option to pay 7,500 quetzales—about US $920—to commute her sentence.
We condemn acts of state violence and criminalization of Indigenous environmental rights defenders in El Estor. We urge authorities to revoke the 2-year sentence of María Magdalena Cuc Choc.
You can read the full letter at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-07-24-000000
25 JUL 2022
assassinated: Noel Humberto Castro Colorado, ex-combatant and signer of Peace Accords -- ¡presente!
We wrote once again to officials in Colombia about the continued impunity for attacks on signatories of the historic Peace Agreement. Since the Peace Agreement was signed in November 2006, 324 signatories have been killed, with 25 so far this year. Many are ex-combatants of the now extinct Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People’s Army (FACR-EP).
Killed on July 12 was 45-year-old Noel Humberto Castro Colorado, an ex-guerrilla who was enrolled in the official reincorporation process at the Agua Bonita Territorial Training and Reincorporation Center (ETCR). He had been transferred there for security reasons after having received death threats. Armed men approached him at 9:45pm and shot him as he was storing his car in the garage of his home in Florencia municipality, Caquetá Department.
We are urging that authorities in Colombia (1) investigate the assassination, (2) offer protection for his family, (3) offer protections for other signatories of the Peace Agreement, and (4) construct comprehensive and inclusive measures to implement the Peace Agreement.
You can read the full letter at: https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-07-25-000000
26 JUL 2022
assassinated: Nancy Sacul Tut became the 16th LGBTQ+ leader killed in 2022 -- ¡presente!
We wrote to officials in Guatemala about continued impunity for violent crimes against transwomen. On July 2, 34-year-old Nancy Sacul Tut became the 16th LGBTQ+ leader killed in Guatemala in 2022.
Nancy Sacul Tut was shot in the face on the streets of Guatemala City at 9:30pm on July 2. A few days prior, Nancy had filed a complaint with the Public Ministry for death threats and violent attacks against her. Nancy, a Maya Q’eqchi’ woman originally from Alta Verapaz, was an active member of the Transwomen Sex Workers Collective of Trébol. Ilse Janeth Contreras, president of the Transwomen Collective, has been forced into hiding; she began receiving death threats after being interviewed in the media about Nancy’s assassination and the vulnerability of transwomen.
Nancy grew up in Chisec, Alta Verapaz Department, before moving to the capital city at age 17. She was rejected by her family and suffered discrimination in her hometown. Proud of her heritage, she continued to wear traditional Maya Q’eqchi’ clothing representative of her region. Ilse Janeth Contreras described Nancy as a quiet woman who worked in the sex trade, in addition to selling clothes and vegetables in the market. As of July 5, the day Nancy was buried, authorities had not started an investigation into her assassination.
We are outraged by the pattern of disinterest and inaction on behalf of the state to defend and prevent violence against transwomen.
You can read the full letter at https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn/2022-07-26-000000