PBI-Honduras marks 29 months of arbitrary detention of the Guapinol River defenders

Published by Brent Patterson on

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On February 1, the Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project tweeted: “When 29 months of arbitrary preventive detention of the defenders of @guapinolre, the doors of the Supreme Court remain closed before their demand for justice.”

Guapinol Resiste had issued this call to media and social organizations:

“29 months after the illegal detention of the defenders of the Guapinol River, the Municipal Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Goods, relatives of the defenders and allied organizations summon the media and social organizations: Meeting of solidarity and symbolic action in the Supreme Court of Justice of Tegucigalpa.”

Criminalization of water defenders

The Guardian has reported: “In March 2018, shortly after the company started widening a road within the national park, the tap water in Guapinol turned chocolate brown and thick with muddy sediment. Residents were forced to buy bottled water to drink, cook and even bathe after children began suffering from diarrhea, while some adults reported skin complaints.”

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) adds: “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’.”

Juana Zúñiga says: “They ruined our river … We couldn’t use water for anything, that’s why we organized, that’s our struggle.”

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.”

Eight water defenders are now on trial. One of them has been held since December 8, 2018, while seven have been incarcerated since September 1, 2019.

After a long delay, their trial began on December 1-2, 2021, resumed on December 9, but then adjourned without ruling on a habeas corpus application filed on December 14. The trial resumed on January 13, 2022.

On January 27, in her inaugural address, Honduran president Xiomara Castro said: “Freedom for the political prisoners of Guapinol.”

We continue to follow this situation.

COPINH photo: “Twenty-nine months after the arbitrary arrest of Guapinol’s comrades, social organizations demand their prompt release, the cessation of judicial persecution of those who fight for life, and the arrest of death projects.”

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