Monday, October 1, 2012

September 23, 2012 Answer to Dinant Press Statement

 On September 21st we received a copy of a press release by Miguel Facusse's company DINANT attacking La Voz de los de Abajo in response to our press releases and press conference in Tegucigalpa on September 18th (see our blog entry on September 13th for more background).  DINANT has also published comments on the You Tube site where a video is posted showing their armed paramilitary guards threatening and then firing a shotgun at the ground in the direction of our delegation visiting the Los Laureles plantation in Tocoa, Colon on September 13.   Since then the lawyer working with Aguan campesinos, Antonio Trejo, was gunned down in Tegucigalpa and another human rights special investigator and founder of MADJ, Eduardo Diaz was murdered in Choluteca. The communications representative for MUCA, Karla Zelaya is receiving death threats and individuals are being threatened for talking to human rights people.  We are extremely alarmed by what looks like a concentrated campaign to isolate and destroy the campesino organizations and to threaten human rights defenders.

 Below is our answer to the Dinant communique.  We believe that in the face of this situation of increasing violence against campesinos, the murders of lawyers and human rights advocates who work with the campesinos and the threats against international groups supporting campesino human rights that  solidarity and human rights activists must step up our efforts to assist in bringing the intellectual and material authors of these actions to justice in the national or international justice system for crimes against humanity. 

La Voz de los de Abajo Chicago Illinois USA
September 23, 2012 Answer to Dinant Press Statement

“All individuals have the right to life, to liberty and to the security of their person. No one will be subjected to torture, nor to cruel, inhuman or degrading punishment or treatment”. (Article 3 and 4 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
In answer to the communique of the Dinant Corporation of Mr. Miguel Facusse rregarding the incident that occurred on September 13, 2012 when our delegation was investigating human rights violations related to the eviction carried out on the Los Laureles plantation, located in the Aurora neighborhood of Tocoa, Colon.
Our delegation of human rights observers, made up of 9 people from diverse organizations in the United States (USA) visited various regions in Honduras from September 6-16th and the same as other delegations that we have organized had as its fundamental aim to document and dennounce the systematic repression from the government by the army, national police and big landowners’ “security groups”.
Our visits have the purpose of dennouncing the serious violations of human rights carried out against organized Civil Society committed to Social Justice, and in particular violations against the campesinos and campesinas who ask for a small piece of land for themselves and their families in Honduras.
In point number 1 of its communique the Dinant Corporacion states the following: “In the face of the irresponsible attitude of the “human rights group” that is distributing the video, which entered private property...”
Our organization, “La Voz de los de Abajo-Chicago” was on the public street in the moment in which we received the verbal threats made with aggresive language and the firing of a shotgun towards us occurred. Our delegation was on public property taking photos and interviewing the neighbors who told us how they were terrorized by nearly 500 police, military and the guards working for Miguel Facusse. WE REPEAT, we were on the public street as is shown by the video and photos that were taken. It would be irresponsible on our part to stop documenting everything that has to do with the grave violations of human rights that are occurring in the Aguan. For that reason: We were doing our job. We were doing what we have to do as human rights observers.
In point number 7, it says: “It is important to point out that our company contracts guards from a company that is legally constituted for that purpose and we do not contract paramilitaries nor have a relations with or knowledge of the existence of groups of that nature”.
Definition of Paramilitary or paramiliatrism: “it refers to private organizations that have a structure and discipline similar to that of the army but which are not formally a part of the armed forces of a State and generally they are outside the law. Among their members may be police, mercenaries, members of assault squads or private security groups”.
When we were threatened and fired at, we saw that nearly all the “security guards” had their faces covered, except for two who were seen well back from the others hidden by the palms. These guards had heavy caliber weapons or assault weapons such as used by the military as can be seen in the photos we took. It is due to these characteristics that we use the term “paramiliatary” in our judgement this describes very well these ‘Security Guards” and their actions and manner.
In point number 8: “ THrough this (communique) we assure public opinion that once the Fiscalia called the guards to make statements regarding the complaint presented by the “offended” the guards went and gave the real version of the facts, making it clear who really was breaking the law by entering private installations without permission from its legitimate owners who reserve the right to proceed legally against those who really were the ones acting against the law”
“giving the real version of the facts” This version which was distributed in the Honduran media as the official truth contrasts with the versions of the diverse human rights organisms and with Honduran legislation that establishes that no one can take the law into their own hands and no one on their own can decide the fate of the life and future of a person outside that established by the Constitution of the Republic and its general laws. None the less the “security guards” act as if they themselves are themselves the law - to the extent that our delegation was told by a policeman, “not even we ourselves can enter the plantation to investigate”.
During our visit from the 6 to the 16 of September we visited with 16 campesino communities located in La Paz, Puerto Cortes, El Progreso, Atlantida and Colon. Everyone told us the same thing - that there is an alarming escalation of repression against the Honduran campesinos and everyone interviewed stated their profound concern for the atmosphere of insecurity in their communities. They spoke of their anguish over their fear for their lives and the lives of their families.
It is important to point out that in the Aguan region dozens of campesinos have died and the principal suspects in the murders are the “security guards” of Miguel Facusse. Nonetheless there has not been an investigation to clarify the crimes and much less to put into place a judicial process to bring to trial and to sentence the material and intellectual authors of these crimes.
Our organization laments the death of any human being especially when we have heard so many voices desperately demanding justice. Especially when we we have seen, once again, that disrespect for life, and impunity reign in Honduras. Especially when we have confirmed through the human rights organizations, leaders of social organizations and campesino organizations that the political, social and economic life in the country is every day more critical. Especially when we have seen an evident and profound absence of a true agrarian policy in the country, which is the root of the current agrarian conflict which has all Hondurans in mourning and when we have seen that an economic and political business elite insists on turning Honduras into a common grave to bury those who affect their interests.
For all of these reasons we reiterate that we continue to have the same demands. In the first place that the government of the United States end its military aid directed to the military and National police and cancel its joint operations using military and DEA with the Honduran military and police which have caused serious violations of human rights, produced victims and violated the national soverignty of Honduras.
Secondly, we demand the immediate liberation of the political prisoners who are in prison because of the legitimate struggle for land: José Isabel Morales, prisoner in La Ceiba, José León Galeas, Cesar Bardales García, Santos Isaías Rodríguez, Selvin Noeli Rodriguez, prisoners in La Paz.
Thirdly, we demand punishment for the material and intellectual authors of the crimes against humanity in Honduras.
Fourth, we demand an authentic agrarian policy, inclusive and fair and an end to the repression, political persecution and impunity.
La Voz de los de Abajo 22 de Septiembre del 2012 Chicago Illinois EE.UU.

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