Honduras: Attempted killing of human rights defender Ms María Santos Domínguez

Maria Santos Dominquez

Maria Santos Dominquez

On 5 March 2014, as human rights defender Ms María Santos Domínguez returned to her home, she was surrounded and attacked with sticks, stones and machete by a group of seven individuals. Her husband and her son came to her rescue but were also attacked, with her son losing his ear. María Santos Domínguez has faced death threats on repeated occasions.

María Santos Domínguez is the co-ordinator of the Organización del Consejo Indígena del Río Blanco y del Sector Norte de Intibucá (Indigenous Coucil of Río Blanco and the North of Intibucá). The human rights defender is also a member of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Indígenas y Populares de Honduras – COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras) and an emblematic leader in the struggle for the defence of the Gualcarque river and the indigenous Lenca territory. Her husband, Mr Santos Roque Domínguez, is also a member of COPINH and a community activist.

On 5 March, just after noon, María Santos Domínguez was returning from preparing school lunches, on the route she normally uses. Santos Roque Domínguez phoned her several times due to the worry caused by the threats already made against the human rights defender. On the fourth call, María Santos Domínguez informed her husband that seven individuals, allegedly the same who had threatened her with death, and who had been waiting for her on her route, had her surrounded. In that moment, her husband and son left the house to search for the human rights defender and found her, having already received deep machete wounds, being beaten with sticks and stones by the group. Santos Roque Domínguez tried to reason with them and pleaded with them not to kill his wife, meanwhile his son attempted to aid his mother. Immediately, one of the group slashed the child with the machete, chopping off his right ear and part of his face. Santos Roque Domínguez was also gravely injured. The attack against the three family members has left them in a serious state of health.

María Santos Domínguez, as well as her husband and son, have been the target of serious threats and attacks because of their work in opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric plant. The same group who attacked them on 5 March also destroyed their crops on a previous occasion.

Maria was one of the people Dennis Remick video taped in September last year for his program, Honduras: Courage and Hope.

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229 Politically Related Murders in Honduras Under President “Pepe” Lobo

Introduction

Politically Related Murders in Honduras Under President “Pepe” Lobo is a chronology of politically motivated or politically related murders in post-coup Honduras during the period from the 27 January 2010 installation of President Porfirio “Pepe” Lobo until 20 November 2013 on the eve of new, inclusive Honduran elections. It chronicles the murders of 229 Honduran civilians primarily by state security forces or death squads linked to state security forces or Honduran oligarchs behind the 2009 coup. These murders capture the scope and nature of organized repression in Honduras targeting non-violent social movements in resistance to the 28 June 2009 coup: trade unionists, campesinos in farming cooperatives, land rights and environmental activists, indigenous peoples, afro-Hondurans, LGBT Hondurans, students, teachers, lawyers, journalists, and women in resistance organizations.

Read the report here: Assassinations in Honduras Under Lobo 20 Nov 2013

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HONDURAS ACCOMPANIMENT PROJECT – PROAH

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Police question member of Lenca community.

The Honduras Accompaniment Project – PROAH posted a summary of human rights issues and event in Honduras for the months of October, November and December 2013.

“The human rights landscape in the last quarter of 2013 was dominated by the elections on November 24, with an increase in killings and other attacks on political activists, particularly LIBRE. The stigmatization of human rights defenders was particularly acute in the Bajo Aguan and extended beyond the elections. There was some good news regarding criminalization of human rights defenders, with the provisional dismissal of one set of charges against the COPINH leadership, and the entry of AZUNOSA in conciliation negotiations with campesinos and the CNTC. However, there was no let-up in the killings and persecution of particular target groups including journalists, lawyers and members of the LGBTI community.

“Honduras also featured prominently in the 149th period of sessions of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), from 24 October to 8 November (see annex for more details).” (From the report)

You can read the report here: PROAH 2013 OctNovDec

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Charges Against Three COPINH Leaders Dismissed!

Good news: Radio Progreso has reported that the warrants against the leaders of COPINH have been dismissed. Arrest warrants were revoked for Bertha Cáceres , Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) . The judges revoked the arrest warrants and other precautionary measures imposed on them in their struggle against the Company DESA and Sinohydro who installed a dam on the river Gualcarque against the will of the communities of Rio Blanco in Intibucá . Also revoked was the eviction order and they issued a provisional dismissal in favor of the 3  This was determined by the Appellate Court of Comayagua, by order dated January 4, 2014 in the place the Appeal was filed by the defense.

We will see how long this lasts. It is important that we not let these community leaders disappear from view.

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Five Years Too Many

Yaran2It has been five and a half years since the Yaran, representatives of the Baha’i Faith in Iran were arrested and put in prison. It is time for their release.

About the Yaran

On 5 March 2008, Mahvash Sabet – a schoolteacher and mother of two – was arrested having been summoned to the Iranian city of Mashhad to discuss some matters regarding a Baha’i burial. She has been in prison since that time – including the first 175 days spent in solitary confinement.

Two months later, on 14 May, six other prominent members of Iran’s Baha’i community were incarcerated in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, after they were arrested in early morning raids at their homes in a sweep that was ominously similar to episodes in the 1980s when scores of Iranian Baha’i leaders were summarily rounded up and killed.

The six were Fariba Kamalabadi, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Afif Naeimi, Saeid Rezaie, Behrouz Tavakkoli, and Vahid Tizfahm.

These five men and two women were all members of a national-level group known as the “Yaran-i-Iran” – or “Friends in Iran”.

Some 20 months – we want to emphasize that number – after being imprisoned without charge, a trial began on 12 January 2010. Throughout their long wait for justice, the seven had received hardly one hour’s access to their legal counsel and suffered appalling treatment and deprivations, including psychological and physical hardship.

The seven were charged with, among other things, espionage, propaganda against the Islamic republic, the establishment of an illegal administration – charges that were all rejected completely and categorically by the defendants.

Their crime, though, is nothing more than being members of the Baha’i Faith, a religion which has been the focus of a systematic, government-sponsored persecution in Iran since the 1979 revolution.

Indeed, the trial of the seven in many ways was the trial of an entire community of more than 300,000 Iranian Baha’is. Over the last 30 years, more than 200 Baha’is have been killed, hundreds more imprisoned, and thousands deprived of jobs, education, and the freedom to worship.

The charges against the seven moreover reflects the kinds of false accusations and campaign of misinformation that Iran’s regime has used to vilify and defame Baha’is for decades.

The trial of the seven Baha’i leaders ended on 14 June 2010 after six brief sessions, characterized by their lack of due legal process.

The initial sentence of 20 years imprisonment for each of the defendants, met with outrage and condemnation throughout the world. One month later, the appeal court revoked three of the charges and reduced their sentence to 10-year jail terms. In March 2011, the prisoners were informed that their original 20-year sentences were reinstated. Notwithstanding repeated requests, neither the prisoners nor their attorneys have ever received official copies of the original verdict or the ruling on appeal.

They are still in prison.

At every Amnesty International Southern Oregon table we have letters to sign. If you would like to help the Yaran you can down load a letter to Ayatollah Sayed ‘Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran and sign and mail them:

Word file: Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

PDF file: Supreme Leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran

For more information about the Yaran and other members of the Baha’i Faith in Iran visit the Baha’i International Community’s website: http://www.bic.org/

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In Honduras, Posting a Blog Can Come with Jail Time

 

Children who are members of the Civic CoMembers of the COPINH during a demonstration. Three members of the COPINH, Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina, are currently jailed or on probation for a series of blog posts and speeches accusing the Honduran government and a hydro-electric company of violating their indigenous community’s land rights (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).

In mid-September, Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action calling on the Honduran government to drop its unfounded charges against Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina of the Civic Council of the Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The organization warned, “If they are imprisoned, Amnesty International will consider them prisoners of conscience.”

First, thank you to everyone who took action! Unfortunately, however, the judge did not listen to us. On September 20, 2013, she ordered Cáceres to be held in prison. She also ordered Gómez and Molina placed on probation.

 The “evidence” the judge used to make this ruling? Their speeches and their blog posts – in other words, the exercise of their right to freedom of expression. The prosecution claims that this expression was meant to incite violence, but it has failed to explain whom they were supposedly inciting. Furthermore, Amnesty believes these statements were legitimate complaints that the Honduran government and a hydro-electric company had violated the indigenous community’s land rights.

The good news is that the Honduran authorities have not yet carried out the order of arrest against Bertha Cáceres. Hopefully, the international outcry by activists like you has led them to reconsider their plans.

In addition to Amnesty Activists, Honduran authorities have heard from groups such as the Center for International Policy, SOA Watch, and a wide array of citizens’ groups throughout Central America and Mexico.

It is very important, however, take action to keep up the pressure so that the Honduran government can hear us loud and clear:

FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IS NOT A CRIME!

DROP ALL CHARGES AGAINST BERTHA CÁCERES, TÓMAS GÓMEZ, AND AURELIANO MOLINA!

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Honduras: Indigenous leaders face unjust charges

UA: 244/13 Index: AMR 37/012/2013 Honduras Date: 12 September 2013

URGENT ACTION

Indigenous leaders face unjust charges

Three Honduran indigenous leaders face unfounded charges in relation to their actions as human rights defenders. A hearing is scheduled to take place on 12 September. If they are imprisoned, Amnesty International will consider them prisoners of conscience.

Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina are facing unfounded criminal charges for the alleged crimes of usurpation, coercion and continued damages (usurpación, coacción y daños continuados) against a company running a hydro-electric power project on indigenous land. They are also accused of inciting others to commit these crimes. Based on their testimonies and the information received from various sources, including from the authorities, Amnesty International believes they are being criminalized in reprisal for their leadership and human rights work in defence of the Lenca indigenous people.

Bertha Cáceres is the general coordinator of the Civic Council of the Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras COPINH), and well-known for her work promoting the human rights of the Lenca indigenous people in north-western Honduras. Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina are also members of COPINH, community leaders, human rights defenders and work for community radio stations La Voz Lenca and Guarajanbala.

COPINH has been active since 1993, fighting for higher standards of living for the Lenca indigenous people and defending rights to territory, natural resources and the environment. The Lenca indigenous communities of Río Blanco and Santa Barbara department have been demonstrating since April against a hydro-electric power project. The project is situated on the land where they have lived for centuries and the community say they did not give free, prior or informed consent. In July the army opened fire during a peaceful demonstration by COPINH, killing indigenous leader Tomás Garcia and wounding his teenage son.

Amnesty International has previously expressed concerns regarding misuse of the justice system to prevent, restrict or punish these three leaders for their defence of human rights. Despite receiving written responses, Amnesty International believes the authorities have not adequately addressed concerns.

Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:

Urging the authorities to cease all unfounded criminal proceedings against Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina in light of their legitimate role as human rights defenders;

Stating that Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina will be considered prisoners of conscience if they are imprisoned.

PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 24 OCTOBER 2013 TO:

President

Porfirio Lobo Sosa

Casa Presidencial, Barrio Las Lomas

Boulevard Juan Pablo II

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Fax +504 2290 5088

Attorney General

Oscar Chinchilla Banegas

Ministerio Público, Lomas del Guijarro

Avenida República Dominicana

Edificio Lomas Plaza II

Tegucigalpa, Honduras

Fax: +504 2221 5667

Twitter: @MP_Honduras

Salutation: Dear Attorney General / Sr Fiscal General de la República

Salutation: Dear President / Sr Presidente

Also send copies to diplomatic representatives accredited to your country. Please insert local diplomatic addresses below:

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