Urgent Action Request : Murder and Repression Target Lenca Communities in Resistance
On May 26th community leader, Irene Meza was killed In San Francisco de Opalaca where election fraud in November installed a ruling party (National Party) mayor who was not accepted by the town; the indigenous council then led a takeover of the municipality. A National Party gunman opened fire on Mr. Meza and also wounded another activist. National Party thugs then attacked the car taking Mr. Meza and the other wounded man to the hospital.
The night of May 24th In Rio Blanco, where the community and its indigenous council have been blocking the construction of a hydroelectric project,community activist William Jacobo Rodríguez was murdered. There were also new incidents of threats, detentions, and beatings by the police of community members. Below is the recent communique on both incidents from the Lenca organizations, COPINH with the demands of the communities.
For more background on Rio Blanco
For more background on San Francisco de Opalaca
CALLS OR LETTERS ARE NEEDED: The situation in both communities is very insecure and at high risk for more violence against the community members and political opposition. Please contact the US Embassy Human Rights Officer and/or the Attorney General (Fiscal General) of Honduras to express your concern and demand an end to the state sponsored violence, serious investigations of the acts of violence and murders, and an end to the political persecution of COPINH, LIBRE and the indigenous councils in the communities.
In English: Amanda Johnson-Miller, Human Rights & Labor Officer, U.S. Embassy Tegucigalpa Honduras
In Spanish: Oscar Fernando Chinchilla, Fiscal General de la República.
- Fax (504) 2221-5667
- Tel (504) 2221-5670 2221-3099
English translation followed by the Spanish original of COPINH’s comunique about yesterday’s repression in San Francisco Opalaca and Rio Blanco. From Brigitte Gynther of SOA-Watch
Murder and repression in San Francisco de Opalaca and Rio Blanco executed by the facist forces of the National Party and the National Police
To the national and international community, COPINH denounces and condemns the murders, murder attempts, and repression perpetrated yesterday against the Lenca people, acts that are motivated by the repressive policies of the State of Honduras, led by Juan Orlando Hernandez:
Yesterday, after the conclusion of an important Indigenous Assembly in San Francisco de Opalaca – the purpose of which was to socialize the findings of the Audit demanded by the Lenca people and carried out by the Superior Accounting Tribunal as well as to make decisions in the context of the construction of the Indigenous Government – employees of the ex-Mayor that the National Party has tried to impose appeared in a private vehicle and Mr. Hugo Sánchez, without saying a word, took out a pistol and fired on Irene Meza and Plutarco Bonilla. Irene Meza is the husband of the 3rd Councilwoman of the Legitimate Mayor’s Office, Ada Elizabeth Méndez, who was in charge of reading the Audit report in the Assembly yesterday. Plutarco Bonilla is a well-known compañero in the struggle against the coup d’etat, in the resistance movement, and both are part of the LIBRE party. Additionally, both compañeros had been participating in all of this most recent struggle in San Francisco Opalaca.
The brutality with which this crime was perpetrated is so extreme that when Irene Meza, shot with bullets in the stomach and chest, was being driven to the hospital in La Esperanza by his wife and a driver, they were attacked again by a heavily armed group of men at the height of the ascent of the Zarco River, causing the vehicle to crash. The armed men then proceeded to the site of the crash, shooting 6 more shots at Irene. In this crime, the two people with him were also injured.
With regards to Plutarco Bonilla, we inform that a bullet hit his hand and he is out of danger.
On the other hand, in Río Blanco, between Saturday May 24th and Sunday May 25th, while he was returning to his home around midnight, William Jacobo Rodríguez, a struggler in defense of the Gualcarque River against the imposition of the Agua Zarca Hydoelectric Dam, was murdered. It is worth mentioning that even though somebody already confessed to this crime, the Police forces that are stationed at the DESA installation in Rio Blanco as part of a special operation against the Lenca People, proceeded to break into homes and arbitrarily capture two COPINH members, Lindolfo Benítez and Salvador Sánchez, and as if that were not enough, they then physically and emotionally tortured both of them, threatened to kill minors that were in their houses, and also threatened and verbally attacked Francisco Javier Sánchez, President of the Indigenous Council of Rio Blanco and Coordinator of Land and Territories for COPINH.
For all of this, COPINH demands:
-Effective investigation and immediate application of justice for the murders of William Rodríguez and Irene Meza as well as the attempts against Plutarco Bonilla, Ada Méndez and Pedro Rodríguez.
-Although Lindolfo Benítez and Salvador Sánchez, in the early hours of today were taken back to Rio Blanco and freed, we demand an investigation and punishment of the repressive forces responsable for their torture and abitrarity, for which COPINH has repeatedly demanded the withdrawal of this police force that only has brought threats and repression to the communities that constantly reject it.
-An end to the political repression and criminalization against the Lenca people and COPINH, against the social and political strugglers.
COPINH holds responsible the State of Honduras, President Juan Orlando Hernández, the powerful groups, corporations, as well as the army and police, for all the polices of terror and criminalization against our People and organization.
We declare that all the actions of Indigenous people rising up and defending territory and the common goods of nature, against large predatory capital, for the construction of self-determination, for ILO Convention 169 and Indigenous government continue strong; this will be part of the big Assembly for Territory and Communities that will start tomorrow, May 27 and the 5-department Regional Mobilization in La Esperanza, Intibucá on Thursday, May 29 at 10.00am, all of our actions guided with hope for our ancestral history of rebellion and dignity.
In Intibucá, May 26, 2014.
¡In the face of more repression, more struggle and organization!
¡We are sons and daughters of Lempira!
Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras COPINH: Bo. Las Delicias, Intibucá, Intibucá; Blog: copinhonduras.blogspot.com; Tel. (504) 2783-0817; http://copinh.org; FB: Copinh Intibucá; Twitter: @copinhhonduras