Friday, 17 June 2011 – Dina Meza. International networks that participated in the International Investigation Mission to the Bajo Aguán region, February 25 – March 4th, 2011 issued a public statement today speaking out against the violence and impunity in the Valle del Bajo Aguán, where the assassination of peasants and other serious human rights violations continue.
Complete text of the International Statement:
According to information received and verified by national human rights organizations, 9 peasants, members of campesino organizations, have been murdered since April 2011.
The organizations signing this statement denounce the violence and impunity in the Valle del Bajo Aguán (Honduras) where the murder of peasants and other serious human rights violations continue.
Following the International Investigation Mission on human rights violations in the Bajo Aguán region, February 25 – March 4th, 2011; threats, kidnappings, disappearances and murders continue to occur with impunity in the Aguán region with no just or lasting end to the agrarian conflict in sight.
Summary of incidents registered from March 18 to June 15, 2011:
Assassinations: According to information received and verified by nationa human rights organizations 9 peasants, members of peasant organizations, have been murdered since April 2011.
April 20, 2011: Tarín Daniel García Enamorado and Carlos Alberto Acosta Canales, members of Productores de Colón
May 5, 2011: Henry Roney Díaz, El Despertar Cooperative
May 10, 2011: José Paulino Lemus Cruz, member of the Brisas del Edén Cooperative
May 29, 2011: Olvin Gallegos and Secunino Gómez, members of the El Despertar Cooperative
June 2011: Guillermo Recinos Aguilar, Joel Santamaría and Genaro Acosta, members of the San Esteban Cooperative.
Injured: During May and June 2011, at least 6 peasants were registered as seriously injured as a result of forced evictions carried out against the peasant movement:
May 5, 2011: Antonio Rivas was injured during an attempted eviction of the La Trinidad Cooperative
May 7, 2011: Juan Licona and Manuel Vásquez of the El Despertar Cooperative were wounded during an attempted eviction on the El Despertar farm.
May 13, 2011: Neptalí Esquivel, peasant seriously injured during the dispersal of a protest in Planes, municipality of Sonaguera. Esquivel was injured and disabled after being shot in the left leg by a soldier.
June 5, 2011: Doris Pérez Vásquez and Oliver Gonzales, peasants housed in the installations of the National Agrarian Institute (INA) in Sinaloa, injured by shots fired by private security guards when the guards violently entered INA.
Kidnapped and Disappeared:
April 14, 2011: Disappearance of Tarín Daniel García Enamorado and Carlos Alberto Acosta Canales, members of Productores de Colón; both were found tortured and assassinated on April 20.
May 5, 2011: Disappearance of José Paulino Lemus Cruz of the Brisas del Edén Cooperative, who was found murdered on May 10th.
May10, 2011: Alejandro Gómez of the La Trinidad Cooperative kidnapped and tortured.
Disappeared since May 15, 2011: Francisco Pascual López of the Rigores Cooperative.
May 29, 2011: Kidnapping of Olvin Gallegos and Secunino Gómez, both from the El Despertar Cooperative; both found dead the same day.
Death Threats: Since June 2011, attorney Antonio Trejo Cabrera, legal representative for the Unified Peasant Movement of the Aguán (MUCA) and in particular of the San Isidro, Despertar, Trinidad and San Esteban cooperatives, has received death threats via his cell phone against him and his family. On June 10, 2011, Mr. Trejo was followed by several vehicles at the same time. At the same he also received death threats against him and his family. In a complaint filed with the Criminal Investigation Unit, the threatened attorney held two businessmen in the zone whose private security guards have been identified as the principal aggressors against the peasant communities, as responsible for any attempt against his life, his family and their property.
We denounce the wave of violence that continues without ceasing in a region where the organized peasant population lives in a situation of permanent danger, total defenselessness and complete impunity regarding crimes committed.
At the same time, the implementation of existing legal decisions and political agreements to resolve the agrarian conflict have not advanced significantly. On April 23, 2011 authorities acknowledged that the April 13, 2010 Agreement between Porfirio Lobo and representatives of the Unified Peasant Movement of the Aguán (MUCA), has not been upheld and renewed their committed to implement it. In terms of lands reclaimed by the Unified Peasant Movement of the Aguán (MUCA), INA issued a total of 471 hectares to peasants affiliated with this organization.
On June 7, 2011, the Director of INA stated before the Council of Ministers, that implementation of the Agreement was not complete due to the lack of advances in legalizing land which according to INA is due to the “lack of political will on the part of the landowners, in this case Mr. Miguel Facussé Barjum, who has not wanted to accept the price of the land which has been established according to the law”. As a result, “the Minister proposes to resolve the problem of Bajo Aguán, by expropriating these lands due to public need, by Legislative Decree.”
In light of this situation, the organizations below repeat the following recommendations that were determined by the International Investigation Mission to the national authorities and international community:
We urge the national authorities to:
a) Fulfill their obligation to promptly investigate and punish all crimes and other serious human rights violations committed in the Bajo Aguán, and to fully pursue the material and intellectual authors.
b) Immediately cease the repression and violence against the peasant movement, stopping the forced evictions and adopting effective measures to provide protection for people at risk.
c) Regulate the functioning of private security firms, requiring them to fully respect the human rights of the population under penalty of canceling their permission to operate in the country.
d) Fulfill the legal decisions and political agreements related to the agrarian conflicts in order to achieve a just and sustainable solution to the land tenure problem.
We believe that the international community plays a fundamental role in the promotion and protection of human rights in Honduras. It is regrettable that the OAS has reincorporated Honduras without considering the absence of guarantees for the investigation and punishment of serious human rights violations committed during and after the coup d’état.
It is urgent that the international community reassert its attention and action regarding the human rights situation in Honduras, in particular the Bajo Aguán, by:
a) Contributing with concrete and coherent measures to create greater protection for people at risk, in particular in relation to Bajo Aguán.
b) Permanently monitor the situation in the Bajo Aguán, particularly the results of the resolution of the agrarian conflict as well as the investigation and punishment of those responsible for assassinations committed and formulate recommendations for national authorities.
c) Assure effective implementation of the local strategy including lines of action outlined by the European Union for the protection of human rights defenders.
d) Establish a permanent office of the U.N High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras.
June 17, 2011
ALOP (Asociación Latinomericana de Organizaciones de Promoción al Desarrollo)
APRODEV (Asociación de Agencias de Desarrollo ligadas al Concejo Mundial de Iglesias)
CIFCA (Iniciativa de Copenhague para América Central y México)
FIAN Internacional (Organización Internacional por el Derecho a la Alimentación)
FIDH (Federación Internacional de Derechos Humanos)
La Vía Campesina Internacional
PIDHDD (Plataforma Interamericana de Derechos Humanos, Democracia y Desarrollo)
Rel-UITA (Regional latinoamericana de la Unión Internacional de los Trabajadores de la Alimentación, Agrícolas, Hoteles, Restaurantes, Tabaco y Afines)