Persecution in October 2012
Summary of killings in October 2012
Douglas Madrid Peña was in a highway blockade opposing model cities and mining concessions when he was killed by hitmen on 4/10
2 farmers were killed in a confrontation with guards and security forces as a land occupation began in Santa Ana, Atlántida
Garífuna farmers Óscar Daniel Sánchez Batista, José Olivera Nolasco and Marco Hernández Gonzales were killed in Farallones by palm company Dinant guards when they were going fishing
Killings and threats against environmental and justice defenders
On 4/10/12 at about 9.30am, at the height of the 6 de mayo community in Macuelizao, Santa Bárbara, 4 armed men got off a white pickup and fired shots at a group that are part of a highway blockade and fled, killing with 4 bullets Douglas Madrid Peña (about 20). Douglas was about half a km from the large group, being one of 15 youths who were stopping non-authorised vehicles from passing through when they were attacked. The highway occupation was organised by the community council Patronato Regional de Occidente (PRO), protesting against unfulfilled promises by government, against mining concessions and against model cities, and demanded development projects.
On 5/10/12, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights ordered protection/cautionary measures for environmentalists and MADJ (Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y Justicia) members César Adán Alvarenga Amador and Roberto García Fúnes, noting increasing threats and harassment against both in the last months in written and phone threats due to their work in human rights and environmental defence in the Atlántida province in the northern carribean part of Honduras.
Killings, judicial persecution, and threats against farmers, land occupiers and their advocates
On the night of 4/10/12, in a land
reclaim occupation that MOCRA (Movimiento Campesino Recuperación Atlántida) was
starting at the height of Santa Ana, Atlántida, at land held by CAISESA-Frisco,
of one of the Aguán palm giants René Morales, a confrontation between 60 soldiers
and 60 farmers (some captured said they were not armed and were forced to go
there by others) was had and death toll reported include two farmers (including German Emilio Castillo), and a soldier Luis
Alfredo Varela. 18 farmers were detained
(including 2 women and 2 minors) and taken to an unknown place. A dozen farmers were reported disappeared. 2
soldiers and 5 guards were reported wounded. Those detained were: Isabel Manzanares Herrera (48),
Nelson Ulises Turcios Martínez (20), Olvin Javier Manzanares Cantarero (18), Jorge
Alexander Lanza Tablada (29), Andrés Valladares Hernández (52), Andi Cáceres
Ríos (18), Rigoberto Alexander Amador Rodríguez (19), Melvin Segundo Gámez
Argueta (19), Elvin Alberto Amaya Ríos (25), Berta Alicia Argueta Ramos (42),
Maximiliano López Ramírez (48), Norma Suyapa Leiva Hernández (43), Melvin
Javier Hernández Oseguera (43), Moisés Suazo Andino (25), Julián Reyes Santamaría
(43), Nelson Ariel Castillo (19) and two 17 years old minors.
On 6/10/12, at Farallones, Colón, garífuna (Afrodescendent) farmers Óscar Daniel Sánchez Batista (26), José Olivera Nolasco (30) and Marco Hernández Gonzales (28) went out to fish prawns; their bodies were found the next day by their relatives and police dead and buried in a border area of Farallones. José had 6 bullet wounds, Marco 21, and Óscar 3, all with hands and feet tied up. It was claimed that Dinant security guards shot at them when they entered to ´steal tepezcuintles´ (animals) within the perimeter of a supposed reserve area that the palm giant Miguel Facussé had imposed on the area. Police said the guards then captured the workers and held them for several hours before assassinating them and burying them in a mass grave in the evening hours. Investigative agents began investigation and found the bodies and the trailer and the arms used (6 shot guns, a 9mm pistol), and also mobile phones and a green vehicle Toyota 2.8 with provisional plate PP01979 that has traces of blood in the cabin. The area was named originally in Garífuna language as Farañú and belonged to the Limón community before being usurped by Facussé in 1994 who built a mansion and a landing pad there, where drug confiscation and burning of planes from Colombia had been documented. Prosecutors found there was evidence of crime in the murders case, but they have not prosecuted, although captures were made against guards.
On 6/10/12, hearings began for 24 farmers arrested on 21/8/12 while protesting outside the Supreme Court, in the hearing charges of illegal carrying of arms and damages were dismissed for lack of evidence, but they continue to accuse the farmers of ´illicit protests´. The farmers are given substitutive measures to prison while their hearings continue, they are: Josefa López Espino, María Luisa Lara, Ismael Redondo Bueso, Eldin Nahúm Pérez, Juan Ocampo Meza, Miguel Castillo Reyes, Nelson Alexander Pérez, Lázaro García, Carlos Padilla Ulloa, Elvin Esteban García, Vitalino Álvarez, Jony Rivas, Narciso Pérez Castillo, Jari Ariel Aguilar, Santos Munguía, Braulio Orlando Hueso, Manuel de Jesús Díaz, Carlos Ramón Navarro, Daniel Santos, Fredis Joel Elvir, Alex Leonel Cadenas, José Enrique Flores and Orlin Alberto Coello
On 8/10/12, leader of Vía Campesina, lawyer, and Libre MP candidate Rafael Alegría made death threats against him public. He is warned including by Honduran authorities about knowledge by state intelligence authorities of a plan to assassinate him. Notifications came on 5th and 4th October from defacto president Lobo, Security Minister Pompeyo Bonilla, and police director Juan Carlos Bonilla. Sources say that the attempt is planned for after the internal elections in November. He believes the plan can be from the large landowners responsible for the grave agrarian conflict, and or in relation to his active participation in FNRP and Libre for which he has leadership positions.
In La Paz, Los Laureles Indigenous community members denounced being persecuted by security guards and hitmen of José David Morales, having had eviction threats by José David Morales for a month. Morales is a self-proclaimed owner of land on which the community of at least 100 families have been occupying for over 6 months, living in makeshift homes made of plastic and cardboard. When the community approached the Agrarian Department seeking resolution they were simply told they may be evicted by police and army at any time. The farmers inform that Morales was detained 1.5 months ago with four hitmen in possession of 25 weapons – M-16, R-15, grenades, etc, in Gualazara La Paz, but was freed hours later because of the influence he has.
Attacks against journalists
On 2/10/12, journalist Elizabeth Zuniga was forced to go into hiding for three days because of a capture order the court emitted against her for charges of defamation (for saying that there are public officials who are thieves who bought goods for themselves with state money naming Choluteca Council Alderman Dr Luis Alonzo Naravaez who then placed the charges against her
from 2007 – for which on 16/11/09 she was sentenced to two years and 8 months jail – she successfully appealed that ruling but on 16/8/12 the Supreme Court criminal hall voted unanimously to condemn her to 1 year and 4 months of jail for the same charge, and the capture order stemmed from that until she voluntarily appeared in court to appeal the prison term and fine. Elizabeth is the radio director of ´Facts and News´ and received awards as a journalist from the congress in 2007 and from El Heraldo in 1999 for being the best correspondent there.
On 17/10/12, JBN journalist Selvin Martinez and his family continues to receive death threats from his attacker Joaquin Molina Andrade who is now in prison. Joaquín attempted against Selvin on 11/6/12. Joaquín has been calling Selvin saying ´We are going to give it to you where it hurts most; your children, your mother, and your woman´. Selvin is a RAPCOS member (Network of Alerts and Protection for Journalists and Community Journalists).
About 6.30am on 23/10/12, MUCA farmers movement journalist Karla Yadira Zelaya was at a bus stop going to class at UNAH when three men with police/military build kidnapped and tortured her for about three hours putting their arms around her and forcing her to go with them into a grey tourist van, saying to her in a low voice, ´shut up and walk´. Once in the van, they said to her, ´you are Karla…collaborate, we won´t do anything to you, we just want the names of the MUCA leaders, is it true that Jhony is the head of MUCA?´ The men were hooded and they blindfolded her. They said, ´only by killing those heading the movement that we can put an end to the movement´, as they hurt her breasts and stomach with a sharp object. They asked her questions like, ´who pays you?´ and commented to one another, ´this idiot does not want to collaborate´ and one asking another if they should kill her. ´It´s because you keep opening your mouth too much, and we have warned you by messages and you haven´t wanted to listen, and so today is your day. We won´t kill you or anything because you are worth more to us alive than dead´, they let her go telling her she was lucky this time, but warned her she would not have the same luck next time and that they know where she lives and where all her family live and all of MUCA´s movements and that ´at any moment we are going to find you and you give us the information that we need.´ Before being kidnapped, Karla was on 21/9/12 amongst the 28 farmers detained and was beaten and taken photos of by police as ordered by head of Policía Metropolitana No. 1, and she received death threats after that that renewed after she uploaded photos about the repression on the 20 and 21/9/12 and on the assassination of Antonio Trejo. She received messages on 21 and 23/10/12 saying, ´you are tiring me, does it not fear you to die bitch I´m going to kill you´ and ´look, don’t get into what does not concern you because you already know what happens to people who get involved, bitch with your bratly lids they are going to find you´.
On 24/10/12 at 7.20pm, within 100 metres of a pólice checkpoint with 4 police at Los Llanos Tegucigalpa, journalists Nery Arteaga and Ninfa Gallo were intercepted by 6 men with police ID who got off a van with weapons yelling, ´we are national police´ and began to beat them. Nery said, ´we are journalists, we are journalists,´ and was beaten with a weapon in the face and insulted and asked for valuable objects and to get out of the car. They robbed the journalists´ vehicle and journalist equipment (a professional video camera, 2 laptops, 2 mobiles, 2 cameras, papers and documents, and belongings of value inside). The robbers fled in the direction of the police checkpoint. The journalists had just finished transmitting their program ´Noticias y Debates 51´, Nery is also the director of CHN radio chain. Some taxi drivers saw the robbery and took the journalists to the police, whose response was ´the patrol is in a bad state.´ Nery reported the attack to the authorities but no police officials had contacted him to find more details.
Harrassment against human rights defender
On 31/10/12 palm giant Miguel Facussé and Irene Castro (private secretary of Dinant) sued Andrés Pavón, president of CODEH (Honduras Human Rights Committee), for slander and defamation, for having made a denouncement pointing to Facussé as responsible for the killing of Antonio Trejo (22/9/12) and human rights defender Carlos Escalares (2005). CODEH was amongst organisations that received the denouncement from Trejo before he was killed that if he gets killed Facussé and other landowners would be responsible. On 25/10/12, due to multiple complaints made to DPP, capture orders were made against five Dinant guards. On 24/9/12, Andrés participated in a TV forum Frente a Frente where he linked Trejo and Escaleras´ cases with Facussé and Castro and the state of impunity. Andrés also sued palm giants Facussé and Morales for crimes against farmers in Aguán on 10/12/10.
Complaints of persecution against ministers and deposed president
On 5/10/12, Agrarian Minister Cesar Ham denounced publicly to Televicentro that palm giant Miguel Facussé has sent to kill him, referring to when Facussé warned Ham through the media that ´everything that he (Ham) did he is going to pay´. Ham said the threats started because ´we don´t accept bribes´. Ham said that even Lobo advised Ham personally that there are intelligence reports that there is an attempt being prepared against him with hitmen who are paid in advance, and told him to be careful in his movements. Ham is a supposed leftist leader inside the government. Of the Unificación Democrática party. Miguel Facussé denied Ham´s accusations. Ham revealed that Facussé had tried to bribe him.
There have been death threats also against Human Rights and Justice Minister Ana Pineda. She faces a Council of Ministers that does not support the human rights focus that Lobo supposably defends. She has received threats since the beginning of her term but it has reached a point where she has to make the threats public
On 25/10/12, journalists of Globonoticias (César Omar Silva) and Tras la verdad (José Luis Galdamez) denounced that there were hitmen following all the caravans in a party political demonstration headed by deposed president Manuel Zelaya and his spouse and Libre presidential candidate Xiomara Castro, to assassinate Zelaya. Security of expresident Zelaya has detected armed persons who try to infiltrate the caravans of these demonstrations around Honduras.
Resistance and solidarity in and with Honduras this month
Actions in Honduras
· Workers of the child protection workers union Sitraihnfa maintained an indefinite occupation for at least a week at different IHNFA centres nationally demanding an end to the human rights violations in the attention to children and families (with the political goal of destroying the institution to privatise it). Their demands included the reinstatement of dismissed employees, the suspension of the dismissal hearings against workers, to continue negotiating the 7th collective contract, payment of the September salaries of permanent and temporary employees and of those suspended who are owed salaries from December 2011, for an end to the persecution and harassment against staff, for the current collective contract to be respected, and for an end to intervention against the union.
· A last minute protest was held outside a hotel where Michael Strong (an executive with company wanting to build model city called MGK) was staying on 3/10/12. People screamed, ´Michael Strong, go home!!´
· The Patronato Regional de Occidente PRO that groups over 200 community organisations decided to occupy the western highway on 4/10/12 indefinitely demanding the compliance with agreements made by authorities for infrastructure projects, the opposition to the mining bill, against the installation of private hydroelectricity dams and concessions of rivers to companies and opposition to model cities.
· 51 new charges of unconstitutionality were placed against model cities at the Supreme Court by Asociación de Juristas por el Estado de Derecho, La Asociación de Abogados ´Justicia en Acción´, indigenous groups, lgbti community and from civil society.
· Sit-ins were held every Wednesday against model cities
· On 11/10/12, a sit in was held outside the Dinant (palm company) office to highlight its acts of repression against the Bajo Aguan people and others in solidarity, and a callout was made to mark this date of Mesoamerica Solidarity Action with Honduras, to undertake simultaneous actions in front of the Honduran embassies in El Salvador, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Costa Rica and Mexico.
· On 12/10/12, Atima Santa Bárbara held a march and sit-in at the council, screamed ´noooo more colonisation, exploitation and concession of our territories and natural resources!´, opposing mining companies. Bands and theatre groups arrived and performed and joined in. They were rejecting the mining law the congress is trying to approve
· The Copemh high school teachers union placed a charge of unconstitutionality against the Ley Fundamental de Educación a decree towards privatisation of education
Statements from Honduras
· The directive committee of high school teachers union Copemh made a statement asserting that the school year will finish on 30/11/12 and not at the extended date the regime enforced in relation to lost class days due to holidays and teachers strikes, calling out for teachers not to sign the public servant ethical behaviour agreement because it is an imposed disposition without any consultation from the regime, condemning persecution against teachers and reaffirming commitment to defending public education and teachers rights.
· The UNAH law students of Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula assembled and made a public statements separately rejecting model city projects as unconstitutional and violating of territory and sovereignty.
· Copinh and Ofraneh made an urgent callout and alert in solidarity with the MOCRA land recovery movement as it began an occupation and suffered two assassinations and various disappeared and detained farmers.
· The Human Rights Alliance denounced threats against human rights defenders and the systematic persecution against MARCA and MUCA farmers since November 2009, naming amongst the threat recipients the human rights and agrarian ministers, CODEH coordinator Andres Pavón and his team, and condemned the killings of Antonio Trejo and Eduardo Díaz Mazariego, and expressed fear for the lives of the farmers movements´ farmers, human rights defenders and lawyers.
· Social organisations (Copinh, Ofraneh, MADJ, COPA, AIDEVISH, ERIC, SoB, Coordinadora de Organizaciones Lajeñas, Consejo Parroquial of the Goascorán Parrish, CNTC and REMUPRO) wrote demanding the immediate release of political prisoner and land reclaim activist José Isabel Morales
· Cofadeh, Stibys union, CNTC, FUTH, ANACH, FRENAJUC and La Via Campesina made a public statement of solidarity with Rafael Alegría, head of La Vía Campesina under political persecution.
· The National Coalition of Environmental Networks made public statements denouncing the mining bill and its imposition.
· Students of the UNAH journalism school made a public statement of solidarity condemning the kidnapping and torture of journalist and student Karla Yadira Zelaya of MUCA farmers movement.
· Copemh (high school teachers union)´s Women Teachers Space held a workshop on leadership and juridical tools for the defence on our rights
· CIMEQH the mechanical electrical and chemical engineers association of Honduras and affiliated branches made a public statement expressing concern with the irregular, non-transparent and corrupt way in which the Honduran government is submitting its natural resources to national and foreign private sectors, with particular mention to the imminent concession of petrol and natural gas at the mosquitia coast. They highlighted that the concession in question is of an area much larger than permitted by law – 3,500,000,000 hectares (legal limit is 600,000 hectares). CIMEQH affirmed that the new mining bill brings no benefits to Hondurans.
· Cofadeh made a statement seeking protection for ex secretary Gladys Melissa Aroca of the communications office of the presidence office for the threats and coercion she has received.
· The state electricity workers union Stenee called out for a mobilisation supported by unions teachers and villagers in La Ceiba to opposed electricity and living costs.
· The Frente Amplio Estudiantil en Resistencia FAER made a solidarity wtatement with Andres Pavon and with farmers of Bajo Aguan.
· Truth Commission headed by Elsy Monge presented its comprehensive report demanding the punishment and justice for the human rights violations committed. Elsy declared that the ´reason for this report´s existence is to give voice to the victims and stop human rights violations that keep producing themselves since the coup through the trial and punishment of those materially and intellectually responsible militaries and civilians. The commission collected over 1966 testimonies and verified over 5000 committed human rights violations from June 2009 – August 2011 within Honduras.
· The WhyHunger Organization gave an international Food Sovereignty Award to the farmers movement MUCA, in representation of the farmers movement in Honduras more broadly that has been victim to assassinations and repression by 3 large landholders. Other award recipients this year were Coalition of Immokalee Workers, Sri Landan National Movement of Solidarity with Fish, and Korean Women Farmers Association.
Letters and statements internationally
· Howard Berman – Democrats President of the Committee of International Relations in the lower house of US congress, wrote to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Honduras saying that ´today the legal system in Honduras almost does not function and the state of constitutionality is under a state of siege. The judicial power in various forms are corrupt, journalists and medias of the opposition continue to be threatened and state security forces are credibly known as perpetrators of assassinations in both low and high profiles.´
· Around 50 social movements and organisations of the Americas wrote to the Defence Ministers who were about to the a 10th conference of the Defence Ministers of the Americas on 8-10 October calling for demilitarisation, elimination of foreign military bases and troops from the continent, cancellation of all military armies that work under direction and doctrine of the pentagon, the closure of the School of the Americas Whinsec, and end to the military response to ´war against drugs´, etc.