“For us, there were two hours of terror, but for the people there, it’s something that never ends, it’s daily. In this sense, we have to use what has happened to denounce nationally and internationally what is occurring in this region.”
-Orlane Vidal, a French volunteer abducted while working with Honduran activists in Nueva Esperanza
Less than a week ago, I posted about the killing of an indigenous community leader when Honduran troops opened fire on a peaceful march. I also reported a sad update on the case of a Honduran journalist who was abducted in June – Amnesty confirmed his mutilated body had been located.
Now, I have three more cases of attacks on human rights defenders to tell you about:
- On July 21, the body of transsexual activist Herwin Alexis Ramirez Chamorro (aka “Africa Noxema Howell”) was found in La Ceiba. Herwin Alexis volunteered with the Ceiba Pro-Union Organization (OPROUCE). Last February, I posted about threats against the Executive Director of this OPROUCE, Patricio Vindel.
- Judge Mireya Efigenia Mendoza Peña, a member of the Association of Judges for Democracy (AJD) was killed in an ambush by gunmen on motorcycles on July 24.
- Also on July 24, seven heavily armed men abducted two international volunteers who had been working with Honduran activists opposed to mining in the Nueva Esperanza community in the department of Atlántida – the same region where Herwin Alexis Ramirez Chamorro was murdered. Although the two activists were eventually released unharmed, the gunmen threatened them if they reported the crime.
Why has there been so much violence against human rights defenders in Honduras? Unfortunately, the answer is once again impunity. In its condemnation of the murder of Judge Mendoza Peña, the Inter-American Human Rights Commission (IAHRC) noted that she has become the 64th legal professional to be killed in the nation since January 2010. These crimes will not stop until there are through investigations that identify and punish those who orchestrate these killings, as well as those who carry them out. As the IAHRC explained:
It is the State’s obligation to proactively investigate acts of this nature. The Commission insists on the need to create special protocols that make it possible to conduct investigations into cases involving attacks on justice operators and ensure punishment for those who are responsible. The Commission also urges the State of Honduras to immediately and urgently adopt all necessary measures to guarantee the right to life, integrity, and safety of judges and magistrates and, more generally, all those who work in the field of justice in Honduras.
Please take action on Nueva Esperanza case to demand that Honduran authorities carry out this fundamental responsibility!