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Aug-31-2013 10:28printcomments

Honduras: Killing of Indigenous Environmental Rights Defenders

Two men opened fire on Ms María Enriqueta Matute, Mr Armando Fúnez Medina, and Mr Ricardo Soto Fúnez.

Map of Honduras
Courtesy: frontlinedefenders.org

(YORK, UK) - On 25 August 2013, around 5pm, human rights defenders Ms María Enriqueta Matute, Mr Armando Fúnez Medina and Mr Ricardo Soto Fúnez were killed in an attack. The three belonged to various tribes of the Tolupán indigenous people, from Locomapa, in the Yoro zone, and had been involved in a peaceful protest against a local antimony mining operation and the construction of a hydroelectric dam in their indigenous zone. On 25 August, María Enriqueta Matute of the San Francisco Campo community, Armando Fúnez Medina of the Las Brisas tribe, and Ricardo Soto Fúnez of the Cabeza de Vaca 1 tribe, were reportedly participating in a peaceful sit-in protest in San Francisco Campo, blocking the main road to Locomapa together with some 150 other Tolupán indigenous people.

The protesters refused to let any traffic through. Around 5pm, the protesters were approached by two men known locally, who after a short exchange of words opened fire on the three human rights defenders. It is reported that Armando Fúnez Medina and Ricardo Soto Fúnez died on the spot, while María Enriqueta Matute ran to her nearby home, where she was tracked down by the gunmen and fatally shot. Reports indicate that to date, the police have not yet opened any investigation into the killings.

The roadblock involved several indigenous communities in the area and had been in place since 14 August 2013. However, the indigenous local residents of the region have been organising social protest for the past four years, since an antimony mining operation started up in the region. In addition to this, a large hydroelectric dam is currently under construction and the inhabitants have had their traditional community lands seized by local landowners. None of the large-scale development projects engaged in the required prior consultation with the local population. In July 2012, the community sent an open letter to the Minister for Justice and the Secretary for Indigenous Affairs about a timber magnate in the area, whose forestry operations had resulted in death threats and arbitrary arrests of members of the community who voiced their opposition to the mining and forestry operations.

William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com is gravely concerned by the death of these three human rights defenders and urges the authorities in Honduras to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.

William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com is alarmed at the deteriorating security climate for human rights defenders in Honduras, resulting in a situation in which human rights defenders, particularly defenders of environmental rights and those belonging to indigenous groups, frequently operate in a context rife with killings and other serious threats to their safety, while prosecution levels for crimes against them remain almost negligible.


S.E. Presidente Porfirio Lobo Sosa
Oficina del Presidente
Casa Presidencial
Blvd Juan Pablo II
Tegucigalpa
Honduras

Letter:

Your Excellency,

I am William Nicholas Gomes, Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com.

On 25 August 2013, around 5pm, human rights defenders Ms María Enriqueta Matute, Mr Armando Fúnez Medina and Mr Ricardo Soto Fúnez were killed in an attack. The three belonged to various tribes of the Tolupán indigenous people, from Locomapa, in the Yoro zone, and had been involved in a peaceful protest against a local antimony mining operation and the construction of a hydroelectric dam in their indigenous zone.

On 25 August, María Enriqueta Matute of the San Francisco Campo community, Armando Fúnez Medina of the Las Brisas tribe, and Ricardo Soto Fúnez of the Cabeza de Vaca 1 tribe, were reportedly participating in a peaceful sit-in protest in San Francisco Campo, blocking the main road to Locomapa together with some 150 other Tolupán indigenous people. The protesters refused to let any traffic through. Around 5pm, the protesters were approached by two men known locally, who after a short exchange of words opened fire on the three human rights defenders. It is reported that Armando Fúnez Medina and Ricardo Soto Fúnez died on the spot, while María Enriqueta Matute ran to her nearby home, where she was tracked down by the gunmen and fatally shot. Reports indicate that to date, the police has not yet opened any investigation into the killings.

The roadblock involved several indigenous communities in the area and had been in place since 14 August 2013. However, the indigenous local residents of the region have been organising social protest for the past four years, since an antimony mining operation started up in the region. In addition to this, a large hydroelectric dam is currently under construction and the inhabitants have had their traditional community lands seized by local landowners. None of the large-scale development projects engaged in the required prior consultation with the local population. In July 2012, the community sent an open letter to the Minister for Justice and the Secretary for Indigenous Affairs about a timber magnate in the area, whose forestry operations had resulted in death threats and arbitrary arrests of members of the community who voiced their opposition to the mining and forestry operations.

I am gravely concerned by the death of these three human rights defenders and urges the authorities in Honduras to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice. I am alarmed bythe deteriorating security climate for human rights defenders in Honduras, resulting in a situation in which human rights defenders, particularly defenders of environmental rights and those belonging to indigenous groups, frequently operate in a context rife with killings and other serious threats to their safety, while prosecution levels for crimes against them remain almost negligible.

I urge the authorities in Honduras to:

1. Carry out a thorough, impartial and immediate investigation into the killing of human rights defenders María Enriqueta Matute, Armando Fúnez Medina and Ricardo Soto Fúnez, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

2. Take all the necessary measures to ensure the safety and the physical and psychological integrity of other community leaders involved in the Locomapa protest and their families;

3. Guarantee in all circumstances that all human rights defenders in Honduras are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals and free of all restrictions.

Yours sincerely,

William Nicholas Gomes
Human Rights Ambassador for Salem-News.com
Twitter@wnicholasgomes
www.williamnicholasgomes.com

http://williamnicholasgomes.com/

Salem-News.com Human Rights Ambassador William Nicholas Gomes is a Bangladeshi journalist, human rights activist and author was born on 25 December, 1985 in Dhaka. As an investigative journalist he wrote widely for leading European and Asian media outlets.

He is also active in advocating for free and independent media and journalists’ rights, and is part of the free media movement, Global Independent Media Center – an activist media network for the creation of radical, accurate, and passionate telling of the truth. He worked for Italian news agency Asianews.it from year 2009 to 2011, on that time he was accredited as a free lance journalist by the press information department of Bangladesh. During this time he has reported a notable numbers of reports for the news agency which were translated into Chinese and Italian and quoted by notable number of new outlets all over the world.He, ideologically, identifies himself deeply attached with anarchism. His political views are often characterized as “leftist” or “left-wing,” and he has described himself as an individualist anarchist.

_________________________________________




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