HONDURAS - CONGRESSIONAL SIGN-ON LETTER CONCERNING THE RIGHTS OF AFRO-INDIGENOUS PEOPLES
Since 1998, Rights Action has funded and worked with OFRANEH (Fraternal Organization of Black People of Honduras).
- BROKEN ANVIL: HUMAN RIGHTS GROUPS PUSH FOR WASHINGTON INVESTIGATION, Annie Bird of Rights Action discusses the May 11, 2012, U.S.-D.E.A. "Ahuas" killings of 4 civilians, in north-eastern Honduras, as part of the "war on drugs".Watch: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=9025
- COLLATERAL DAMAGE OF A DRUG WAR: The May 11 Killings in Ahuas and the Impact of the U.S. War on Drugs in La Moskitia, Honduras (August 2012). http://rightsaction.org/sites/default/files//Ahuas_Report_120815.pdf
IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED!
FROM: Gary L. Cozette, Program Director, Chicago Religious Leadership Network on Latin America (CRLN)
We need your help. Please ask for your U.S. Rep to sign on to the Hank Johnson letter on Afro-indigenous rights in Honduras, which you will find below with an action alert.
Contact the Foreign Policy Staffer in Washington DC Office of Your U.S. Representative!
Please share this alert with your networks. However, we ask that media folks refrain from publishing or writing about the letter until it is officially delivered by Rep. Johnson to Secy Clinton and Atty Genl Holder with all signatures.
On January 07, 2013, U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) circulated a House sign-on "Dear Colleague" letter (found below) addressing ongoing human rights violations against Afro-indigenous communities in Honduras. It highlights the need for full accountability in the 11 May 2012 murders of four Afro-indigenous civilians in a violent U.S. drug raid gone wrong in Ahuas, Honduras. The letter also calls for "a review on the implementation of counternarcotics operations carried out by our government in Honduras". The four initial signers - Rep Johnson (D-GA), Conyers (D-MI), Meeks (D-NY), and Bass (D-CA) - are in the Congressional Black Caucus.
We need your help in securing the signature of your U.S. Rep on this letter - and other U.S. Reps from your state.It should be easy for them to sign on to this letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Holder raising these ongoing human rights concerns, and calling for a full and credible investigation of the Ahuas massacre.
Please call the foreign policy aide in your Rep's DC office. Here is how:
The Congressional Switchboard number is (202) 224- 3121
(To identify your rep, type in your zip code this website - look to upper right corner): http://www.house.gov/representatives
Ask to speak with the aide who handles foreign policy. Use the script below in speaking with the aide. If the aide does not recall seeing the letter, ask for the aide's email address so that you can forward a copy of the letter.If the foreign policy aide is not is not available, ask to leave a message on his or her answering machine. Be sure to ask for the name foreign policy staffer so you can follow up.
Script: "My name is _____. I am a constituent in (town / city neighborhood). I am calling to ask Rep. _____ to join in signing the Hank Johnson letter in support of Afro-indigenous human rights in Honduras. Has Rep. ____ seen this letter? Can I count on him/her to sign on? Please call me this week at (your phone number) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Rep_____ will sign it."
To sign on to the letter, the legislative staffer who handles foreign policy must call or email Sascha Thompson in Rep. Johnson's office to inform her. Please contact the aide every few days to make sure that the staffer has asked the Rep to sign on.
SUPPORT THE RIGHTS OF AFRO-INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES IN HONDURAS
From: The Honorable Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr.
Sent By: Sascha Thompson
Please join us in supporting the human rights of Afro-indigenous communities in Honduras by signing a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Attorney General Eric Holder calling for the investigation of alleged abuses by Honduran security forces and the role of DEA forces in an May 11 incident that led to the tragic death of four indigenous villagers. The letter also expresses concern regarding reports of threats and repression targeting Afro-Honduran leaders and intimidation of Afro-descendent and indigenous communities defending their historical land rights.
In recent years, the rule of law has gravely deteriorated in Honduras as a result of a 2009 military coup d'Etat and a steady increase in drug-trafficking activities throughout the country. Afro-indigenous peoples, who are among the most impoverished and marginalized communities in Honduras, have been disproportionately affected by drug-related violence as well as targeted attacks allegedly perpetrated by Honduran police and military.
We are not merely distant observers of the human rights crisis in Honduras. Our government has worked closely with Honduran authorities to combat drug-trafficking in the region and trains, funds and equips Honduran security forces. Furthermore, armed DEA personnel have participated in controversial counter-narcotics missions that have resulted in fatal casualties, including the aforementioned May 11 incident in the northeastern Moskitia indigenous municipality of Ahuas. It is therefore incumbent upon the U.S. administration to ensure that all possible measures are taken to protect the basic rights of Honduras' most vulnerable communities.
If you have any questions or would like to sign the letter, please contact Sascha Thompson in Rep. Johnson's office at 225-1966.
Hank Johnson Gregory W. Meeks
Member of Congress Member of Congress
John Conyers Karen Bass
Members of Congress Member of Congress
Dear Madame Secretary Clinton/ Attorney General Holder:
We write to express our concern regarding the grave human rights situation in Honduras, and in particular the dire situation of Afro-Indigenous Hondurans in the aftermath of the June 2009 military coup. We request a thorough and credible investigation on the tragic killings of May 11 in Ahuas to determine what exactly occurred and what role, if any, was played by U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents. We also call for an immediate investigation into alleged abuses perpetrated by Honduran police and military officials in the country.
We are troubled to hear of the threats and repression targeting Afro-Hondurans who have bravely voiced their alarm over the steady deterioration of democracy in their country. We are also concerned regarding acts of violence and intimidation against Afro-Indigenous people defending their historic land rights. We are particularly disturbed to learn of the effects of a militarized counternarcotics policy on Afro-Honduran communities, and the participation of U.S. agents in operations that have led to the deaths of Afro-indigenous civilians.
On May 11, 2012, four Afro-Indigenous villagers, including a 14-year-old boy, were killed during the course of a May 11 drug interdiction raid in Ahuas, Honduras. Three others were seriously wounded. At least ten U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) agents participated in the mission as members of a Foreign-Deployed Advisory Support Team (FAST), a DEA unit first created in 2005 in Afghanistan. According to the New York Times, Honduran police agents that were part of the May 11 operation "told government investigators that they took their orders from the D.E.A."
We understand that this tragic incident has been extremely traumatic for the otherwise peaceful and tightly knit community of Ahuas. Although Honduran human rights groups and international organizations such as Human Rights Watch have demanded that U.S. and Honduran authorities conduct a thorough and impartial investigation of this incident, the investigation has not been properly conducted. For instance, official inquiries into the matter have been perfunctory, and deeply flawed. Credible testimony indicates that the victims were innocent bystanders and not drug traffickers. As Honduran authorities have yet to address the issue, our government should press ahead with a full investigation to better determine exactly what occurred and what role was played by U.S. agents.
On June 22, the Fraternal Organization of Black People of Honduras (OFRANEH), one of the most prominent groups representing Afro-Indigenous Hondurans, objected to what it views to be racially biased, "outrageous and dangerous" statements given to the New York Times and the Washington Post by U.S. officials following the May 11 killings. OFRANEH claims U.S. officials made unsubstantiated accusations of drug trafficking against the entire Afro-indigenous communities in the Moskitia region of Honduras.
OFRANEH states that since the coup, drug traffickers have been increasingly targeting Afro-Indigenous communities, claiming their traditional lands, and killing those who stand in their way. Human rights groups confirm that the Honduran judiciary has done little to defend the basic rights of these communities. For instance, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights of the Organization of American States has ordered the State of Honduras to cease and desist from approving any title transfers on land in the Afro-Indigenous community of Triunfo de la Cruz in order to protect its vulnerable population from attacks by drug traffickers anxious to secure access to the Caribbean. Currently, many more Afro-Indigenous communities seek similar protection. We note that, even in this context, Afrodescendent and Indigenous leaders assert that the U.S. -backed drug war in Honduras hurts their communities.
In addition, since the country's June 2009 military coup, according to numerous reports, the rate of impunity of alleged abuses perpetrated by state security forces has risen to unprecedented heights. According to Honduras' leading human rights organization, the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), over the last three years, more than ten thousand complaints have been filed regarding police and military abuses, very few of which have been investigated. Furthermore, State security forces are also directly carrying out repression against government critics. For instance, Afro-indigenous leader, Miriam Miranda, president of OFRANEH, was physically attacked and arrested by a departmental police chief in May 2011.
Finally, we strongly recommend a review on the implementation of counternarcotics operations carried out by our government in Honduras taking into account the unique conditions and high vulnerability of Afro-descendent and indigenous communities, who are disproportionately affected by drug trafficking activities.
Cc Michele M. Leonhart, Administrator, Drug Enforcement Administration
Cc Lisa J. Kubiske, U.S. Ambassador to Honduras
Cc Denis McDonough, Deputy National Security Advisor
Cc Ricardo Zuñiga, Senior Director for the Western Hemisphere
Rights Action (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Please send copies of this information, and your own letters, to your Canadian and American politicians (MPs, Congress members and Senators) and to your own media. Since the June 2009 military coup, that ousted the democratically elected government of President Zelaya, Honduras has become the 'Murder Capital of the world'. State repression has again reached the levels of the worst years of the 1980s. Since the coup, the U.S. and Canadian governments have 'legitimized the illegitimate' post-coup regime. North American companies and investors have increased their business activities in Honduras since the coup. In no small part, this regime remains in power due to its political, economic and military relations with the U.S. and Canada.
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