More than 100 national and international organizations condemn criminalization of nine indigenous tolupan authorities from San Francisco Locomapa

Americas, June 24, 2019.- National and international organizations condemn new efforts to criminalize indigenous leaders of the indigenous Tolupan Tribe of San Francisco Locomapa. We denounce that the Honduran State, intentionally and systematically, seeks to silence Indigenous Peoples who legitimately exercise their right to protest and who demand their rights be respected.

Honduras, a country that has prioritized extractivism as an economic model, is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to defend human rights. On May 17, Honduran state authorities filed an indictment
against nine indigenous Tolupan land defenders for obstructing a forest management plan. This accusation comes as retaliation for their work defending the life, territory, and environment of their community, a response that reflects a practice that has been systematic in one of the most dangerous countries for human rights defenders.

On Monday, June 24, the nine Tolupan leaders will face their initial hearing in which a decision will be made on whether or not to proceed with the prosecution. This hearing comes four months after the assassination of two members of the same community, who were also members of the Broad Movement for Justice and Dignity (MADJ). These cases highlight the serious situation of risk, violence, and criminalization that the Tribe faces.

As a result of the granting of “forest management plans” and operating licenses without free, prior and informed consultation and consent, the departments of Yoro and Francisco Morazán, territories of the Tolupán indigenous people, have been targeted for resource exploitation by companies and people outside the community.

In response to this situation, and the increasing dispossession of territory and forced displacement, the Preventive Council of the Tribe was created by dozens of local indigenous people to defend their rights and peacefully protest. Their demands have led to increased risk and multiple threats that have led to criminalization and assassinations.

In 2010, eight indigenous Tolupan leaders from the San Francisco Locomapa Tribe were criminalized, also charged with obstruction of the forest management plan. In 2012, three more faced charges. In both cases, the defense showed that they were not guilty and all charges were eventually dropped.

In 2013, Tolupan leaders Ricardo Soto, Armando Fúnez and María Enriqueta Matute were murdered. As a consequence, that same year, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted
precautionary measures MC 416-13 to 35 members of the community.

Despite the IACHR ordering the Honduran state to protect their lives and physical integrity, two beneficiaries of the measures, Erasimo Vieda and Luis Marcía, were murdered in 2015; in 2016 Santos Matute, also a beneficiary of the measures, was murdered. Most recently, in February 2019, Juan Samael and beneficiary José Salomón Matute were killed by two individuals who had previously threatened them.

In response to these latest murders, the IACHR stated that "indigenous peoples have the right to exercise effective control of their lands and to be free from interference by people who seek to take control of their territories through the use of violence. States are also obliged to prevent and then protect indigenous peoples affected by these violent acts when
they occur within the framework of territorial conflicts.”

The IACHR also indicated: "The fact that there is a precautionary measure in force from the IACHR means that the state authorities were informed of the situation of an imminent serious risk that the person faced. It is therefore particularly worrying that the necessary measures have not been adopted to guarantee the security of the persons protected by the measure.”

For these reasons, and as indicated by the IACHR and the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), the signatory organizations of this letter denounce the impact of the malicious use of criminal law to limit the exercise of human rights, in particular, the defense of the right to land and the environment by indigenous, peasants and social leaders. We note with concern that, this very week, five leaders of the Arizona department are also facing a trial related to their peaceful resistance to a hydroelectric project in the area.

We demand an immediate end to the prosecution of the nine Tolupan land defenders currently charged. Likewise, we ask the authorities to cease the violence, discrimination, and criminalization of the Tolupan tribe of San Francisco Locomapa and to guarantee their rights over their ancestral territory, protect their lives and punish those who have systematically violated their human rights.

Finally, we lend our solidarity to the legitimate and dignified defense exercised by the Tolupan defenders and call on the national and international community to closely follow and demand justice for their case.
Their hearing is scheduled for today, June 24, 2019 in Yoro, Honduras.




Red Europea de Comités Oscar Romero

Comité por los Derechos Humanos en América Latina
Guatemala Community Network
Todos por Guatemala
United for Mining Justice

Movimiento Nacional de Víctimas de Corporaciones Multinacionales

Centro de Documentación en Derechos Humanos "Segundo Montes Mozo
S.J." (CSMM)

El Salvador
Asambleas Comunitarias de El Salvador
Instituto de Derechos Humanos de la UCA (IDHUCA)
Universidad Centroamericana José Simeón Cañas

Colectivo Cadeho
Oekumenisches Netz Rhein-Mosel-Saar

Asociación para la Promoción y el Desarrollo de la Comunidad CEIBA
Bufete para Pueblos Indígenas
Centro Para la Acción Legal en Derechos Humanos
Comité Campesino del Altiplano (CCDA)
Comité de Desarrollo Campesino (CODECA)
Comité de Unidad Campesina (CUC)
Familiares y amigos contra la Delincuencia y el Secuestro
Festivales Solidarios
H.I.J.O.S. Guatemala
Instituto Amaq'
Prensa Comunitaria
Red Tz'ikin - Realizadoras-es Independientes de Guatemala
Unidad de Protección a Defensoras y Defensores de Derechos Humanos
-Guatemala (UDEFEGUA)
Unión Nacional de Mujeres Guatemaltecas (UNAMG)

Asociación LGBT Arcoiris de Honduras
Bloque Popular
Centro de Derechos de Mujeres (CDM)
Centro de Desarrollo Humano (CDH)
Centro de Estudio para la Democracia (CESPAD)
Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de Víctimas de la
Tortura (CPTRT)
Colectivo de Trabajadoras y Trabajadores Sociales de Honduras (CTSH)
Comité para la Defensa del Consumidor Hondureño
Comité por la Libre Expresión (C-Libre)
Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras
Coordinadora de Organizaciones Populares del Agua (COPA)
Ecuménicas por el Derecho a Decidir
Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación de la Compañía de Jesús
en Honduras (ERIC-SJ)
Fundación San Alonso Rodríguez (FSAR)
Justicia Paz e Integridad de la Creación - Familia Franciscana Honduras
Juventud del Milenio
La Insurrecta
Movimiento Ambientalistas Santabarbarense (MAS)
Movimiento de Diversidad en Resistencia (MDR)
Plataforma Agraria Regional del Valle del Aguan
Puras Mujeres
Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en Honduras (RNDDH)
Red Nacional de Jóvenes Artesanos de la Paz
Somos Muchas
Terco Producciones
Unión Estudiantil Morazanista (UEM)

Collettivo Italia Centro America (CICA)

Procesos Integrales para la Autogestión de los Pueblos
Red Mexicana de Afectadas/os por la Minería (REMA)
Fundación para la Justicia y el Estado Democrático de Derecho (FJEDD)


Comité Noruego de Solidaridad con America Latina (LAG)

Anticapitalistas Madrid. Área Internacional
Comunidad Centroamérica en España
Plataforma por Honduras en Madrid
Red de Hondureñas Migradas (REDHMI)

Alliance for Global Justice
Central American Resource Center (CARECEN) -- DC
Franciscan Action Network
Guatemala Human Rights Commission (GHRC-USA)
Hands Off Honduras - Minnesota
Interfaith movement for human integrity
Nicaragua Center for Community Action
Parlamento Maya USA
School of the Americas Watch (SOAW) Oakland/East Bay
SOA Watch
Witness for Peace Solidarity Collective

Coalición de Tendencias Clasistas (CTC-VZLA)

Brigada José Artigas de Trabajo Voluntario
Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL)
International Comission of Jurists (CIJ)
Cruz Morada Hondureña
Hablemos de Derechos Humanos
Honduras Solidarity Network in North America
Informations Gruppe Lateinamerika (IGLA)
Iniciativa Mesoamericana de Mujeres Defensoras de Derechos Humanos
La Cadejos, Comunicación Feminista
La Voz de los de Abajo, Chicago
Movimiento Mesoamericano contra el Modelo Extractivo Minero - M4-
Oficina Ecuménica por la Paz y la Justicia
Protection International Mesoamérica
Task Force on the Americas
The St. Louis Inter-Faith Committee on Latin America (IFCLA)

CIVICUS: Global Alliance of Civil Society Organisations
Confederación General del Trabajo
Due Process of Law Foundation (DPLF)
International Federation for Human Rights (FIDH) within the framework of
the Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
JASS (Just Associates)
Migrant Roots Media
World Organization Against Torture (OMCT) within the framework of the
Observatory for the Protection of Human Rights Defenders
International Platform Against Impunity (PI)