Tuesday, February 22, 2005

25 year sentence for indigenous activists

(Amnesty International) ...is gravely concerned that, in Honduras, the judicial system appears to have been misused to target environmental and indigenous activists and those who support them, in order to prevent them from carrying out their work on behalf of their communities claiming rights to communal land titles. The actions of community representatives and social activists, like the Miranda brothers, pursuing land and environmental protection initiatives are frequently viewed as an impediment by those involved in land and environmental exploitation. The harassment through the judicial system of environmental and grassroots activists, including indigenous people, is part of a pattern of human rights abuses against those involved in defending the environment in Honduras. Amnesty International has documented killings, death threats, as well as the targeting of activists through spurious criminal charges.

On 8 January 2003, brothers Marcelino and Leonardo Miranda, indigenous leaders of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Indígenas Populares, (COPINH), Civic Council of Indigenous and Popular Organisations, were taken by 21 armed police officers from the Policía Nacional, National Police, and armed civilians wearing ski masks, from the indigenous Lenca community in Montaña Verde, municipality of Gracias, Lempira department. According to reports the two men were tortured in front of their relatives, who were also threatened, during the arrest. The torture reportedly continued as the two men were taken to prison in Gracias municipality. At the prison, the police officers reportedly stabbed Leonardo Miranda in the head with a knife and threatened to kill him and his brother in their cells. Marcelino Miranda was forced to sign a confession under torture for unknown charges. They have reportedly been tortured further while in prison by Cobra officers from an elite group in the National Police force. Leonardo Miranda was reportedly threatened with death unless he signed a piece of paper accepting the charges brought against him.

1 comment:

Irene Wood said...

It is enraging to see how the judicial system of Honduras decides to take matters in their own filthy hands! In Central America, Honduras has vast and beautiful landscapes and a rich indigenous culture. However, the idiotic government cannot see how these places, instead of being exploited natrually, could be conserved properly to increase the levels of tourism. The judicial system in Honduras is anything but judicial (yes, pun intended). These tortures are out of control. The people working in this branch of government are not qualified and do not have good-judgement. The government should be restructured.