enero 2017

Philippines: 4 HRDs killed in January 2017

In the Philippines attacks continue against farmers and leaders of indigenous communities who have dedicated their lives to the defence of their land and rights. As the Duterte administration and its Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) announced their new counter-insurgency plan Oplan Kapayapaan, replacing Oplan Bayanihan, attacks targeting land and environmental activists, perpetrated by private armies of landed families and mining firms complicit or in connivance with state security forces, have become routine.

On January 5, 2017, around 4pm, Venie Diamante, 43, a T’boli and municipal tribal chieftain, was brutally killed by an unnamed assailant on board a motorcycle while on his way home from Koronadal City. Residents from the community attested that Diamante was a good person and a respected tribal leader. The police then showed a petition to survey the area which is part of the T’boli ancestral domain, a move that Diamante had  strongly advocated against.

Weeks later, on January 20, 2017, two activists in Surigao del Norte and in Negros Occidental were killed. Katribu regional party list coordinator Veronico Delamente, 27, a Lumad-Mamanwa and member of Kahugpungan sa Lumadnong Organisasyon (KASALO) was shot by two unnamed assailants. On the evening of the same day, around 8pm, Alexander Ceballos, 54, regional council member and district area coordinator of the National Federation of Sugar Workers (NFSW) was gunned down by two unnamed assailants near his house.

On January 28, 2017, Quilina Ceballos, wife of Alexander Ceballos, received a death threat via text message. The message stated: ‘You, your companions, and your two children’s place in the cemetery is ready.’ Quilina Ceballos received the threats while still in mourning for her husband’s death.
In a separate incident on January 25, 2017, another farmer from Negros Occidental, Wencislao Pacquiao, 48, member of the San Benito Farmers Association- Kilusang Magbubukid ng Pilipinas (KMP), was shot while doing work in the designated land cultivation area (LCA).
In its Annual Report 2017, which covers the period January-December 2016, Front Line Defenders reported the killing of 31 human rights defenders in the Philippines, the highest of any country outside the Americas.
Full details on the killings are available here

Honduras: the Deadliest Place to Defend the Planet

Top Honduran politicians and business elites linked to violent crackdown on people defending their rights to their land. United States must urgently review its support of Honduran industry, military and police.

A new Global Witness investigation has named the president of Honduras’ ruling party, Gladis Aurora López, as one of several top politicians and business tycoons implicated in a violent crackdown on families standing against the theft and destruction of their land.

The United States also comes under scrutiny for backing Honduran state forces, which are often behind the murders and attacks of activists.

The report,  Honduras: the Deadliest Place to Defend the Planet. documents the fact that 120 people have been killed since 2010 for protesting against the theft or destruction of their land, forests or rivers, including high-profile indigenous activist Berta Cáceres, whose murder last year was the first to prompt international outrage.

Conflicts over mining, hydropower and agribusiness are the biggest drivers of deaths, with most victims from indigenous groups and rural communities. Global Witness has uncovered new evidence of the back-door deals, bribes and lawbreaking used to impose these projects and silence opposition.

You can download the full version of the report Here


Front Line Defenders 2017 Annual Report highlights killing of 281 HRDs in 2016


In its 2017 Annual Report which covers the period January December 2016, Front Line Defenders has reported a total of 281 HRDs killed around the world. 49 percent of the HRDs killed were defending land, indigenous and environmental rights.

Front Line Defenders found that in the vast majority of cases, killings were preceded by warnings, death threats and intimidation which, when reported to police, were routinely ignored. In addition to killings, over half of the cases reported by Front Line Defenders in 2016 concerned criminalisation, a tactic which the organisation calls “the first choice of governments to silence defenders and to dissuade others.”

“This report honours the hundreds of defenders killed in 2016,” said Front Line Defenders Executive Director Andrew Anderson. “We mourn their loss and celebrate their lives and achievements. Each and every peaceful HRD killed is an outrage. The scale of the killings in Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico and the Philippines is a bloody indictment of the governments concerned; it demands an urgent and systematic response.”

You  can download the full text of the report here

Six HRDs assassinated in one week in Colombia, Mexico and Guatemala

At a time of populist right wing anti human rights rhetoric when respect for human rights is under threat human rights defenders (HRDs) are increasingly at risk. In its Annual Report covering the period January-December 2016 Front Line Defenders reported the killing of 281 human rights defenders – 215 of them in the Americas. In this last week alone Front Line Defenders has received reports of the killing of 6 HRDs in Guatemala, Colombia and Mexico

On 06 January Olmedo Pito García was shot dead by unknown gunmen when he was travelling home from work. Olmedo was a member of the Movimento Sem Terras ( Landless Rights Movement) and was an active campaigner for the land  rights of the indigenous community. His was just the latest killing in what appears to be the targeted killings of land rights activists.

On 07 January Aldemar Parra García, president of the Asociacion Agricola de El Hatillo, in the province of Cesar in Colombia, was shot dead by two gunmen travelling on a motor bike which had been seen scouting out the area on previous days. Aldemar was one of a  group of local activists protesting against contamination caused by mining projects in the area.

ON 13 January 53 year old community leader Edmiro León Alzate was reported missing in the province of Antioquia, Colombia. The next day his body was found on the side of the road. He had been shot dead. Edmiro was one of the community leaders who had been defending the community’s access to water and campaigning to protect water sources in advance of the development of a major hydroelectric project in the area.

In 2005 Colombian environmental rights defender Isidro Baldenegro Lopez won the Goldman Environmental Prize for North America. Isidro Baldenegro was recognized internationally as a champion of indigenous land rights. On Sunday 15 January he was shot in the home of a relative and died later from his injuries. According to local media reports the murder suspects are linked with known assassins of other Indigenous environmental activists in the region.

On Tuesday, January 17, protesters led a peaceful demonstration against a hydroelectric plant in Guatemala. But the event ended in death after paramilitaries shot and killed 72-year-old activist Sebastian Alonso. The groups have been protesting the project for five years, with little acknowledgement from government officials. Violence has dogged the dam project; in 2014, two people died in disputes over the project.

Colombian human rights defender Emilsen Manyoma was last seen with her husband, Joe Javier Rodallega, boarding a taxi in Villa on Saturday 14 January. On Tuesday, 17 January 2017, their bodies were found in the neighbourhood of el Progreso in Buenaventura. Emilsen Manyoma was the leader of the Comunidades Construyendo Paz en los Territorios (Communities Building Peace in the Territories, CONPAZ) in Buenaventura. CONPAZ is an initiative of communities and organisations that live in territories where the armed conflict is taking place.

Repressive governments think that HRDs can be killed with impunity and that there will be few if any real consequences. As human rights standards are being rolled back in Poland and Hungary and the President of the Philippines is threatening to include HRDs in his «harvest» of killings, the human rights movement needs government champions who will combat this dangerous trend by re-stating their commitment to the human rights which have been built up at such cost over the last 60 years.  Governments should condemn every killing of a HRD as with every killing the prospects for building more just and equal societies are lessened.



The frightening issue that could destroy Colombia’s peace deal

A man waves the Colombian flag during a Nov. 30 demonstration to demand the immediate endorsement of the revised peace deal between the government and FARC guerrillas. (Guillermo Legaria/AFP/Getty Images)

After a half-century of war, peace has come to this long-troubled region of Colombia, and the change has been terrifying.

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On Christmas Day, gunmen assassinated a rural activist from the leftist Marcha Patriótica party as he rode home on his motorbike. A member of the group was ambushed along the highway here in early November. The mutilated body of another activist turned up two weeks later in the same area. Leer más >