PBI-Honduras at court hearing for Guapinol water defenders
On August 26, the Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project posted on their Facebook page, “This morning we were present at the hearing for the presentation of the accused of 7 new defendants (for illegal association, robbery and aggravated fire) in the Guapinol case for the defence of natural assets.”
Their post then notes, “These seven people have been under judicial detention and were referred to the Tamara Penitentiary.”
Radio América reports, “On March 4, a judge released 12 residents of Tocoa, who were also being criminalized by the same case in Guapinol.”
The mine is located inside the Carlos Escaleras National Park and is causing damage to the Guapinol River, the source of drinking water for about 42,000 people.
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) has explained, “In August 2018, when development of the mine began to contaminate the drinking water for 14 nearby communities, residents of Guapinol erected a ‘Camp in Defense of Water and Life’.”
The camp was in place for 90 days. The UUSC notes, “In October 2018, 1,500 Honduran military and police officers violently attacked and evicted the camp.”
After that, 12 activists were subsequently charged with “usurpation of land”.
School of the Americas Watch has also commented, “On February 23 [of this year], 12 Honduran activists who have been defending the drinking water of numerous communities from a mine owned by members of Honduras’ powerful oligarchy were jailed in an extreme misuse of the justice system.”
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee also notes, “The company behind the mining project, Inversiones Los Pinares, is also the largest landowner in Honduras; with close ties to the Honduran ruling party, they have previously been linked to attempts to kidnap and intimidate activists as well as bribe officials.”
And the InterReligious Task Force on Central America has commented, “It is conspicuous that the Public Prosecutor’s Office has filed illicit association charges against Guapinol human rights defenders but the same institution has repeatedly declined to file illicit association charges against the criminal structure that murdered Berta Cáceres and executed other crimes against the Lenca people despite multiple requests from the victims.”
This past February, PBI-Honduras accompanied the Committee for Freedom of Expression (C-Libre) to an information event about the impacts of mining on Guapinol. Now, after the jailing of the 7 water defenders, C-Libre has tweeted, “We call for national and international solidarity with fellow members of the community of Guapinol.”
PBI-Honduras notes, “The initial hearing will be this Thursday, August 29 at 9 a.m.”