URGENT ACTION: Forced Disappearance of Garifuna land defenders
On Saturday, July 18 at approximately 6 am, four members of the Garifuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz in Honduras: Snider Centeno, Suami Mejía, Milton Martínez, Gerardo Rochez and another man, were abducted and forcibly disappeared by a group of heavily armed men, in unmarked cars, wearing-bullet proof vests and police uniforms, according to reports.
The national and international community has urged Honduran officials to immediately investigate this incident and return the young Garifuna land defenders to their communities unharmed. However, they remain disappeared.
Snider Centeno is the president of the elected community council in Triunfo de la Cruz. In 2015 his community won a case in the Inter-American Court on Human Rights which the Honduran government has not respected. Three of the disappeared men are members of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), the Garifuna organization working to protect Garifuna economic, social and cultural rights.
The kidnapping and disappearance of Snider and the 3 other men is yet another attack against the Garifuna community and their struggle to protect ancestral lands and the rights of afro-indigenous and indigenous people under threat from international tourism and mega-projects.
Honduran police have harassed and repressed those holding vigils and peaceful protests in response to the forced disappearance of these community members.
On May 7, 2020, the U.S. State Department certified Honduras on human rights despite the ongoing human rights crisis and abuse on the part of state security forces.
Please call your Representatives in Congress and urge them to:
- ask the State Department and US Embassy in Honduras to publicly denounce the forced disappearance of these land defenders and insist that Honduran officials return them to their community unharmed.
- support HR 1945 – The Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act to suspend U.S. funding for Honduran security forces due to human rights abuses.
Those who are forcibly disappeared in Honduras are at extremely high risk of being tortured and killed. Thank you for taking action.
We Join the Garifuna Communities in Demanding:
- The return of the disappeared men alive.
- A serious and impartial investigation that does not include the DPI into the disappearance of the 5 men from Triunfo de la Cruz.
- Compliance with the orders of the Inter-American Human Rights Court for justice for Triunfo de la Cruz and Punta Piedra
- An end to all attempts to displace Garifuna communities and all the violence and harassment against communities and organizations