International Garifuna Council
1720 Lincoln Ave Suite #3
San Rafael, CA 94901
OPEN LETTER FROM THE GARIFUNA COMMUNITY RESIDING OVERSEAS.
We, the Garifuna community in the diaspora demand an immediate end to the surge in attacks brought this year upon our Garifuna communities in Honduras. We demand the swift investigation of the assassination and kidnapping of Garifuna leaders in Honduras. We reject all attempts by the Government to appropriate and sell off Garifuna ancestral territories, in open violation of the free, prior and informed consultation of the community. We demand an immediate investigation into the poisoning of our rivers and ecosystem, and end to the campaign to terrorize and harass the entire Garifuna community.
The community of Triunfo de la Cruz, located in the Department of Atlántida, municipality of Tela, alongside all the Garifuna communities, demands that their 4 children be returned, these were taken and kidnapped from the community at dawn on Saturday, July 18th of the present year, 2020. This act was executed by marching into our brother’s homes and forcefully extracting them. Those who executed the act were dressed in official Honduran military uniforms. The kidnapped are known by the following names and roles: Alberth Sneider Centeno, community elected community council president and active member of the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH); Milton J. Martinez, Suamy A. Mejia and Gerardo M. Rochez, each of whom actively protect the life and land of their community.
In this context, mention must be made that in the year of 2015, the Interamerican Commission for Human Rights, emitted a Sentence in favor of the community of Triunfo de la Cruz. In it’s ruling, the Court exacted the implementation of 9 reparations, which the State of Honduras has yet to implement. In the year 2006, the Interamerican Commission of Human Right granted precautionary protection measures for this community. These precautionary protective measures remain in force. The current events in Triunfo de la Cruz clearly reveal that the Governments response has been unacceptably deficient.
On July 20th, of the present year 2020, the lifeless body of our brother, Antonio Bernardez was found. He fought for the protection of life and the land, son of the Garifuna Community of Punta Piedra, located in the department of Gracias a Dios, who was a member of the patronage of said community and also a member of the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH). The Interamerican Commission for Human Rights, emitted a sentence in favor of the community of Punta Piedra in 2015, case for which Mr. Bernardez was one of the main witnesses who testified, such testimony helped in the final sentence emitted by the Judges of the Court. The assassination of our brother has not been clarified by the state authorities.
On May 21st, of the present year 2020, in the Garifuna Community of Rio Tinto, our brother Edwin Fernandez, community defender, was murdered, he was also a member of the Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH) and was in charge of the surveillance in times of the COVID-19 pandemic. Another case that has not been clarified.
In 2019, a total of 18 Garifuna leaders were murdered across the board. Justice has yet to be served, nonetheless the communities must withstand all the external accusations without solid proof, classifying the victims as participants of illegal activities, thus justifying their murders.
On October 14th, 2018, Secundino Torres disappeared, who was the president of the Committee of the Lands of Triunfo, active member of Honduran Black Fraternal Organization (OFRANEH), and activist in defense of life and human rights. This case was not investigated; we demand his safe return.
On July 17th, of the present year 2020, in the Honduran Mosquitia, the rivers were poisoned, act which caused the death of thousands of fishes. On the following day, July 18th, of the present year
2020, in the Garifuna Community of Santa Rosa the Aguan, located in the Department of Colon, we found the terrifying sight of the poisoned Aguan River waters with thousands of fishes floating lifeless ashore.
These acts attempt against the aquatic fauna, the health, and the right to nourishment of the inhabitants of the indigenous, farmer and Garifuna communities that reside by the rivers. These events have not been appropriately tended to, nor has there been an explanation given to the surrounding communities, by the corresponding authorities.
Because of the above, the Garifuna Community residing overseas demand:
“NO TO THE PERSECUTION AND MURDER OF GARIFUNA LEADERS”
International Garifuna Council