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Human Rights Defender in Imminent Danger

The Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) condemns the harassment and death threats to which has been subjected the Human Rights Defender, Blanca Azucena Espinoza, President of the peasant business association "Buenos Amigos de Sabá" (Good Friends of Sabá) in the Province of Colón in the North of the country.

On September 27th, 2010, Blanca Azucena Espinoza led with her comrades the seizure of idle lands in the Community of ELIXIR, for the benefit of several families without land. On this same day, she was attacked by a man armed with a machete at the service of the landowner Cesar Velásquez, who claimed to be the owner of those lands.

Since this day, she has confronted a number of actions that have put her life and the lives of her nine children in danger. On December 31st, 2010, hooded men who were driving a green pickup truck without licence plates, opened gun fire on a group of the community, which was assembled in a meeting with Blanca Espinoza.

On January 4th, 2010, individuals driving a grey vehicle followed her in the Sabá municipality. Blanca was obliged to seek refuge in the Town Hall. Three days later, on January 7th, 2010, Roger Barahona, an employee of Cesar Velásquez, followed Blanca as she was moving along a street in the ELIXIR community with her daughter, and tried to run over Blanca's daughter. On repeated occasions, he had showed his pistols to her and simulated firing them, while at the same time ensuring that he would kill her.

Since January 30th, 2011, one of her daughters received a text message in which it was written that Blanca is a dead woman.

On March 1st, 2011 at approximately 11:30 P.M., two armed and hooded men riding a motorbike prowled around her house during an approximate 15 minutes. They left when a neighbour's vehicle entered the street where Blanca Espinoza's home is located. In addition to wearing balaclavas, the two men wore hoods and wore military style boots. On March 8th, 2011 at 10:30 P.M., the men returned to her residence with their motorbikes and remained opposite her home for a half hour.

Blanca and three members of the Board of Directors are facing legal proceedings for seizure of land and the legal officials have issued an arrest warrant against one of her daughters, only 11 years of age, for the same offence. The constant presence of armed men and the text messages sent to her daughter have caused her children psychological trauma who show fear an suffer from insomnia.

We urge the national and international community to demand and remind the State of Honduras:

  • To open an independent, exhaustive and impartial investigation into the threats made against Blanca Azucena Espinoza, to make public the results of the investigation, and to bring the perpetrators before justice;

  • to take immediate steps to provide effective protection to Blanca Azucena and her family in accordance with her own desires,

  • to consider null and void the arrest warrant against her minor daughter.

  • to provide free psychological attention to Blanca's nine children in order that they recover their mental health and normality.

  • to remind the Honduras State officials that it is their obligation to guarantee defenders of human rights their right to carry out their work without unjust limitations and without fear of reprisal, in accordance with the UN Declaration on Human Rights Defenders and resolutions of the OAS.

    Address your appeals to:

    Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
    President of the Supreme Court of Justice
    Tel (504) 269-3000 269-3069
    Mail: cedij@poderjudicial.gob.hn

    Luis Alberto Rubí
    Public Prosecutor of the Republic
    Fax (504) 221-5667
    Tel (504) 221-5670 221-3099
    ail: lrubi@mp.hn suazog@mp.hn

    Copy to:

    Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH)
    Barrio La Plazuela, Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
    Apartado Postal 1243
    Tegucigalpa, HONDURAS
    Fax: +504 220 5280 (gives "fax signal")
    Mail: berthacofadeh@yahoo.com

    Send a copy also to the accredited diplomatic representatives of Honduras in your countries.

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    small logoThis document has been published on 18Mar11 by the Equipo Nizkor and Derechos Human Rights. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes.