Target: Juan Orlando Hernández, President of Honduras
Goal: Provide additional protection to indigenous leaders in the wake of the murder of José Santos Sevilla.
Honduran indigenous rights leader and teacher José Santos Sevilla has been assassinated. Mr. Sevilla, who was a leader of the Tolupan indigenous people and an outspoken critic of mining and logging on indigenous lands, was murdered at his home by five heavily armed gunmen. This murder comes just two weeks short of the anniversary of the murder of indigenous leader Berta Caceres.
Lands belonging to the Tolupan community, which makes up about 10 percent of the Honduran population, have long been the target of illegal logging and mining. Protests against this illegal activity have faced a campaign of intimidation. In 2013, gunmen opened fire on peaceful protesters, since then there have been multiple instances of gunmen threatening activists and their relatives, damaging homes, and burning crops.
Despite multiple rulings against illegal mining and logging operations, several firms continue to operate with impunity on Tolupan lands. These firms allegedly have links to the Honduran military, law enforcement, and state security forces; ex-army general Filánder Uclés has been implicated in the harassment, intimidation, and assault of members of the community. Sign our petition to demand greater protection for members and leaders of Tolupan indigenous communities.
Dear President Hernández,
I was shocked and saddened to hear of the assassination of José Santos Sevilla. As you know, he was a teacher and leader of the Tolupan indigenous people and an advocate of indigenous land rights in opposition to industrial mining and logging. His assassination at the hands of five heavily armed gunmen highlights the campaign of intimidation faced by members of the Tolupan community who exercise their right to oppose and protest illegal activities on their lands.
Many members of the community allege the involvement of former members of the military and security forces and report a culture of impunity which can only serve to encourage these crimes. Both of these facts were outlined in the 2015 U.N. report on the campaign of violence against Tolupan organizers, activists, and communities. Furthermore, while the courts have ruled many logging and mining activities as illegal, operations continue undisturbed. I urge you to provide protection to organizers and activist in the Tolupan community and to take action against illegal mining and logging on indigenous lands.
[Your Name Here]
Photo Credit: Zscout370