Honduras: Human rights activists abducted while defending children's rights
Since 2012 members of the Nueva Esperanza community have been campaigning against a local mining project which is disrupting the lives of local communities and threatens to rob them of their right to self-determination, as stipulated in various human rights documents such as the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP). The villagers, many of whom include children, have subsequently been threatened and harassed by armed guards working on behalf of the mining company.
On 24 July Orlane Vidal, a French woman and Daniel Langmeier, a Swiss man, both working for the Honduras Accompaniment Project (Proyecto de Acompañamiento en Honduras – PROAH), witnessed first-hand the type of harassment and threats the local community face on a regular basis. The two international volunteers met with the Nueva Esperanza community in the department of Atlántida to discuss protection issues and international accompaniment.
A family which is active in the campaign and has recently been harassed and intimidated by guards working on behalf of the mining company, were host to the two volunteers on that particular day. The next day, at 9:00am, the host and guests were shocked and terrified when seven heavily armed men approached the house they were staying in. The men carried rifles, while some thirty other individuals carrying machetes surrounded the house.
The armed men forced their way into the house, and ordered the volunteers to leave at gunpoint. Gunshots were heard in the surrounding area and the activists later learnt that the owner of the house had been followed by unknown individuals nearby. The armed men became agitated and loaded their weapons. They called the volunteers communists and members of the Resistance, and claimed that it was because of them that they could not work in mining.
The international volunteers were forced to leave on foot for the Nueva Esperanza community. Their cameras and mobile phones were seized and photos of company vehicles deleted. The leader of the armed gang told the volunteers that if they came back they would “disappear in the woods”. The volunteers were then forced into a pickup truck, where they continued to be held at gunpoint by two heavily armed men who made threatening comments of a sexual nature towards the female volunteer.
Those driving warned the volunteers not to talk publicly about what had happened. Eventually Orlane Vidal and Daniel Langmeier were released at a bus stop in Nueva Florida. They subsequently filed complaints to the authorities.
This case highlights the great difficulties facing communities in Honduras, and the apparent threat of forced evictions in order to allow mining companies to gain access to the lands, illustrate the great dangers that children in those communities face.
Please write immediately in Spanish or your own language:
* Urging the authorities to immediately provide appropriate protection measures, in accordance with their wishes, to members of PROAH as well as to activists in the Nueva Esperanza area that are campaigning against mining.
* Calling on them to order a prompt, independent and thorough investigation into the abduction of and threats against Orlane Vidal and Daniel Langmeier and the family that hosted them, with the results made public and those responsible brought to justice.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS BEFORE 10 SEPTEMBER 2013 TO: (Time difference = GMT - 6 hrs / BST - 7 hrs)
Public Prosecutor’s Office
Ministerio Público, Lomas del Guijarro
Avenida República Dominicana,
Edificio Lomas Plaza II
Fax: 00504 2221 5662 (say “tono de fax por favor”) Twitter: @MP_Honduras
Salutation: Dear Members of the Intervening Committee
Minister of Interior
Sr. Arturo Corrales
Secretaría de Estado en el Despacho de Seguridad, Plantel Casamata, subida al Picacho,
Fax: 00504 2220 1756
Salutation: Dear Minister
PLEASE SEND COPIES OF YOUR APPEAL TO
His Excellency Mr Ivan Romero-Martinez, Embassy of Honduras, 115 Gloucester Place, London W1U 6JT.
Fax: 020 7486 4550 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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