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Wed Mar 13, 2013, 12:50 PM

Honduran Death Squads Murder Peasants in the Bajo Aguán Valley: Reflections on the Bird Report

Honduran Death Squads Murder Peasants in the Bajo Aguán Valley: Reflections on the Bird Report

BY Frederick B. Mills, Senior Research Fellow at the Council on Hemispheric Affairs
– Posted on March 6, 2013

On February 20, 2013, Rights Action Co-Director, Annie Bird, issued the most detailed report to date on “Human Rights Violations Attributed to Military Forces in the Bajo Aguán Valley in Honduras” (hereafter cited as the Bird Report). The report’s findings remove ambiguities that may have given those who have chosen to remain silent a clear conscience. The Bird Report is far more than simply a compilation of documentation and analysis; it represents an urgent call to stop the killing taking place in this region of Honduras.

There has been no dearth of credible reports of human rights abuses in the Bajo Aguán. The 2011 annual report of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR, Chapter 4) is based on the Commission’s own on site observations in May of 2010, correspondence from the State of Honduras, and reports from a number of international human rights organizations and networks, including the International Verification Mission. The Mission visited the area from February 25 to March 4, 2011. Section 295 of the IACHR report states:

During 2011, the IACHR continued to receive troubling reports that the situation in the Bajo Aguán had worsened. There has been a long-standing land dispute between campesinos and businessmen in this area and it has come to the attention of the Commission that as of the June 28, 2009 coup d’état, there has been an increase in the number of deaths, threats and intimidation against campesinos in the area and stigmatization and criminalization of the land rights struggle persists.

The Bird Report provides an important update to the information collected by the IACHR. Bird’s methodology relies in no small part on the testimony of survivors and witnesses who reside in the Bajo Aguán Valley as well as the reports of other human rights defenders and organizations. Bird also gives a general assessment of recent publications by the Honduran Comisión Nacional de Derechos Humanos (CONADEH) and by the U.S. State Department Country Reports on Honduras (2010 and 2011). Of these two sources, Bird remarks:

CONADEH and the State Department reported significantly lower numbers of campesinos killed than did human rights organizations and the campesino movements. Further, there was little clarity regarding reports of members of security forces killed. While numbers of killings were reported, there was not confirmation of the identity of the individuals, nor the conditions under which their deaths occurred. Another key difference between U.S. State Department and Honduran government reports and those of human rights organizations was that the State department and CONADEH generally characterized the killings as having occurred in confrontations while human rights organizations denounced … the emergence of a pattern of targeted killings. (Bird Report, p. 18)


Wednesday, Mar 13, 2013

Link to brief: http://rightsaction.org/action-content/written-submission-rights-action-and-global-initiative-economic-social-and-cultural

Link to Bajo Aguan report: http://rightsaction.org/sites/default/files//Rpt_130220_Aguan_Final.pdf

Human rights advocates tell World Bank (WB) auditors that the WB is obligated to respect the rights of the "Panama" campesino community in Honduras, who were shot at while protesting the illegal and violent land usurpations that they are suffering at the hands of the Dinant Corporation, a WB loan recipient.

Please send letters and call the US Secretary of the Treasury, the Canadian Minister of Finance, and the Executive Directors for the U.S. and Canada in the World Bank - Contact information below.

On March 6, 2013, the Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (GI-ESCR) and Rights Action presented a brief to the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman (CAO) of the World Bank's International Finance Corporation (IFC) in reference to an ongoing audit the CAO is conducting of a $30 million loan to the Dinant Corporation, a Honduran African palm oil producer controlled by Honduras' largest landowner, Miguel Facusse. The WB loan was made in late 2009, to the military-backed regime that came to power in Honduras after the June 2009 military coup, and that was engaged in widespread repression and human rights abuses against the Honduran people.

Link to brief: http://rightsaction.org/action-content/written-submission-rights-action-and-global-initiative-economic-social-and-cultural

Even as the WB examines the loan, widespread violence and repression continues in the very region where the WB is invested in Dinant's African palm production. The day before Rights Action and GI-ESCR presented the brief, Honduran security forces opened fire against a group of campesinos from the Panama farm protesting the ongoing usurpation of their land by the Dinant Corporation.

Two weeks ago, Rights Action published a comprehensive report investigation documenting human rights violations by Honduran security forces, and private security forces hired by African palm producers, describing the murders of 93 campesinos and those perceived to be their supporters. The day the report was released, February 21, Yoni Adolfo Cruz and Ezequiel Guillen Garcia disappeared; their tortured bodies were found on February 24th.

Link to Bajo Aguan report: http://rightsaction.org/sites/default/files//Rpt_130220_Aguan_Final.pdf
Demand that the World Bank, the U.S. and Canadian governments comply with international law and cancel the Dinant loan.

Ian H. Solomon
Executive Director
Office of the Executive Director of the United States
The World Bank
1818 H Street, N.W. (Mail Stop MC 13-1307)
Washington, DC 20433
f: (202) 477-2967
e: EDS01@worldbank.org

Jacob Lew
Secretary of the Treasury
United States Department of the Treasury
U.S. Department of Treasury
1500 Pennsylvania Avenue NW
Washington, DC 20220

Marie-Lucie Morin
Executive Director for Canada, Ireland and the Caribbean
The World Bank
1818 H Street, N.W.; Mail Stop MC 12-1206
Washington, DC 20433 U.S.A.
f: (202) 477-4155
e: EDS07@worldbank.org

Jim Flaherty
Minister of Finance
Department of Finance Canada
140 O'Connor Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0G5
T: 613-992-1573
F: 613-943-0938
E: finpub@fin.gc.ca

Source: rightsaction.org


Excerpt from rightsaction.org:

According to an investigation published February 21, 2013, since January 2010, 95 members of campesino movements or those believed to be associated with them have been killed, 53 while waiting for buses riding bicycles or driving on public roads, 13 were in their homes or undisputed farmland, 10 abducted and their bodies later found, most tortured, while another 3 remain disappeared. Another 16 were killed on or neighboring land in dispute, though many of those reportedly not in the context of an eviction but also apparently in targeted killings.

Reports indicate that hundreds more have been wounded, many disabled, raped, tortured, had their homes and families destroyed. The day the report was released, February 21, Yoni Adolfo Cruz and Ezequiel Guillen Garcia disappeared; their tortured bodies were found on February 24th.

As the World Bank deliberates, the campesinos of Panama loose even more of their land at the point of hundreds of guns, and campesinos throughout the Aguan await the next victim of the violence the World Bank loan has facilitated."

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