Article by PBI-Canada
On December 29, The Guardian reported: “On Tuesday, local media reported the killing of yet another defender, Adán Mejía from the indigenous Tolupán people, who was allegedly attacked on his way back from tending to his corn crops in Candelaria, a rural community in the northern department of Yoro.”
And Sandra Cuffe, a Canadian journalist based in Latin America, has tweeted: “Mejía was killed [on December 29] in Honduras, just 2 days after the murder of Lenca community leader Félix Vásquez. Violence against leaders protecting ancestral territories has increased during the pandemic and 7 have been killed this year.”
The Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), a grassroots organization working with Garifuna (Afro-descendant and indigenous) communities, has further drawn attention to this assassination of an Indigenous land defender.
OFRANEH tweeted: “Assassination of Adrian Mejia, from the Calendaria tribe, Yoro, adds to the list of more than a hundred indigenous Tolupanes murdered, their territory being plundered by the illegal exploitation of wood and mining.”
OFRANEH has also noted: “Murders and criminalization of indigenous defenders is an indicator of the absence of a rule of law and respect for prior consultation in Honduras. It is one of the most dangerous countries on the planet for defenders of Mother Earth.”
The Guardian’s New York City-based environmental justice reporter Nina Lakhani further notes: “Honduras became one of the most dangerous countries in the world to defend natural resources and land rights after the 2009 coup ushered in an autocratic government which remains in power despite multiple allegations of corruption, electoral fraud and links to international drug trafficking networks.”
Lakhani adds: “The nexus between political and economic elites means crimes against environmental defenders are rarely prosecuted. Investigations into allegedly corrupt officials who sanction large-scale projects without legally required consultations and environmental impact assessments are also rare.”
The Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project has previously posted: “Since the coup d’état took place in Honduras on June 28, 2009, PBI has followed with growing concern the serious deterioration of space for the defence of human rights faced by organizations, communities and human rights defenders in the country.”
Second Indigenous leader assassinated in less than 48 hours
Violence against Indigenous leaders who protect ancestral territories and common goods has increased in the midst of the pandemic in the face of an offensive by businessmen and state officials who come to dispossess Indigenous peoples. Extractive projects, ZEDEs (zones for employment and economic development), and the control of the territory promoted by organized crime.
Indigenous people murdered in the last year for the defense of ancestral territory:
Enough murders and criminalization of Indigenous leaders!
Published by Brent Patterson on December 30, 2020