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We hope you’ll add your voice to demand freedom for the eight Guapinol political prisoners in Honduras.
The international solidarity community is calling for the immediate release of the eight Guapinol water defenders who have been in pre-trial detention since September 2019. Those being held in Olanchito Penitentiary are José Daniel Márquez Márquez, Kelvin Alejandro Romero Martínez, José Abelino Cedillo, Porfirio Sorto Cedillo, Orbín Nahúm Hernández, Arnold Javier Alemán, Ewer Alexander Cedillo Cruz. Jeremías Martínez Díaz is being detained separately at La Ceiba Penitentiary.
What can I do?
Click here to sign these urgent messages to authorities in Honduras and the US Embassy in Tegucigalpa, calling for the immediate release of the 8 water defenders/political prisoners.
Share this email notice and the Facebook event (until April 26th) with your friends.
Why are they imprisoned?
To bring attention to several identified environmental, social, human, and economic impacts of large scale mining projects in the Atlantic zone, residents of El Guapinol and surrounding communities organized the Encampment on the Defense of Water and Life in August 2018. They pointed to contamination of the Guapinol and San Pedro Rivers, which supply drinking water to fourteen surrounding communities.
Who is behind this?
Nucor Steel (based in Charlotte NC) is expected to be the main purchaser of the iron ore oxide to be mined inside what is supposed to be protected lands: 200 hectares inside the Carlos Escaleras National Park.
The Facussé family in Honduras is the owner of the company, Los Inversiones Los Pinares , that has been given a concession by the corrupt Honduran government to start this open-mine inside a national park. It’s worth noting that the company owners are the daughter and son-in-law of the notorious narco land baron who’s displaced thousands of campesinos off their land, the late Miguel Facussé .
What are the environmental harms?
Residents have documented how preparations for the mine are destroying animal life and contaminating smaller waterways which supply several other rivers flowing to Olancho, Atlántida, and Colón Departments. Tens of thousands of inhabitants are at risk of losing their agricultural crops and homes for this mining operation being constructed to supply US-based Nucor Steel with iron oxide.
What does the UN say?
On February 9, 2021 the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions determined that the detention of the 8 Guapinol Water Protectors was carried out arbitrarily and is against their human rights. It also noted that the sanitary situation in the Olancho prison only increases the vulnerability of the Guapinol Water Protectors to COVID-19. At least one of the Guapinol water defenders has been diagnosed with the virus, but the risk is imminent for the other activists.
The working group, which belongs to the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR), noted that the arbitrary detention of the Guapinol Water Protectors is related to their work in defense of the environment. Every day that the Guapinol Water Protectors spend in prison is another violation of their human rights. We cannot forget that while the Honduran prosecution has not been able to gather evidence against the 8 Water Protectors, there is plenty of evidence that demonstrates the illegality of the Los Pinares mining project and the links of the government of Juan Orlando Hernandez with organized crime groups.
What are we asking for?
Demands for Honduran Authorities
1. That the State of Honduras immediately release the 8 Guapinol defenders and follow the recommendations of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
2. That the National Penitentiary Institute take all necessary health measures to protect the lives of the 8 Guapinol water defenders. The Honduran State has the obligation to inform the families of the political prisoners about the state of health and the health situation of the activists.
3. That the National Human Rights Commission of Honduras (CONADEH) take urgent action to guarantee compliance with the resolution of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention.
Demands of embassy representatives in Honduras
1. As a diplomatic representative, ask for the release of the 8 Guapinol Water Protectors and demand that the Honduran government comply with the recommendations of the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detentions.
2. Demand that the Honduran government guarantee all necessary health measures to protect the lives of the 8 Guapinol Water Protectors in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
3. Demand that the Honduran government put an end to arbitrary detentions and all violence against environmental defenders in Honduras.
For more information visit https://www.guapinolresiste.org/
Thank you for joining with us to bolster this vital across-borders solidarity movement. Continue to journey with us toward real transformative justice—to build the better world where all life is valued, and care for those in need takes precedence over locking people up.
P.S. Legislation is currently circulating in the US House of Representatives in honor of slain indigenous environmental defender Berta Cáceres, HR 1574 The Human Rights in Honduras Act: “The Honduran police are widely established to be deeply corrupt and to commit human rights abuses, including torture, rape, illegal detention, and murder, with impunity.”