Génesis Hernández and Jorge Alberto Castillo have collaborated with the Association for a Better Life – APUVIMEH. APUVIMEH works with the community of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex people, and with those affected by HIV / AIDS in Honduras.
The organization also administers a shelter for people with HIV / AIDS and the LGBTI community, the “Casa Renacer”, and several projects that include a program for the prevention of HIV / AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases and a youth project. Jorge Alberto Castillo was a founding member of the Casa Renacer. The human rights defender was one of the first people to advocate for LGBTI rights in Honduras. Génesis Hernández was a protest poet who had treated the sexual rights of women, including lesbians and bisexual women in her poetry as a way of drawing attention to these matters. She had also participated in many demonstrations for LGBTI rights and, recently, had to flee the city as a result of threats against her.
On September 18, 2015, at approximately noon, Génesis Hernández was kidnapped by strangers in two vans, one gray and one green, outside her home in Tegucigalpa. The human rights defender was taken to the Comayagüela region in Tegucigalpa, where she was forced to get out of the vehicle with her hands tied. Then, she was forced to stand in front of a wall and, according to witnesses, suffered verbal abuse of her sexual orientation and subsequently received two shots in the head.
On September 6, 2015, Jorge Alberto Castillo was stoned to death near his home in El Manchén, Tegucigalpa. His co-workers believe that his murder amounts to a hate crime. However, to date, the investigation into his murder has not been initiated.
These two murders have occurred in the context of a pattern of intimidation against APUVIMEH members. On July 31, 2015, while the director of APUVIMEH Mrs. Sandra Zambrano and other employees and volunteers of the organization, Messrs. Cristian Daniel Cortes Sagastume, Silvio Gerardo Artola and Carlos Alberto Cardona Varela left the Chinese market, a police patrol (no. M-103) approached them and, without justification, the police ordered them to get into the police wagon.
Human rights defenders were taken to the police station in the district of Alemán in Comayagüela, where they took photographs of a police file with the cell phone of one of the police officers. When a police officer at the police station asked why they had been taken there, he was instructed to write down that they were drunk in public (“put them who were drunk and disorderly”), even though no one in the group had taken anything to drink. The group was then taken to the police station in Belén, Comayagüela, where they were detained for an entire day, on August 1, 2015. They were not allowed to make a phone call, and they were not provided with food or water. Nor were they informed of their rights, or the reason for their detention.
They were finally released at 6:30 p.m. on August 1, 2015, when Cristian Daniel Cortes Sagastume’s mother paid 300 HNL (approximately 13 euros) to the authorities.
The facts were informally reported to the Secretary of Security and the National Human Rights Commission on August 3, 2015. However, no formal complaint was filed. On August 8, 2015, APUVIMEH received a note explaining that they were going to open an immediate investigation by the police, who would visit the complainant’s house. However, the officers who visited Sandra Zambrano’s house were the same ones who had arrested them. Police officers parked outside the house with sirens on before questioning the human rights defenders, and also asked them about their intention to report the detention.
On March 3, 2015, an APUVIMEH volunteer, Mr. Efraín Salomón Silva, suffered an attack perpetrated by strangers in Lepaterique, who verbally attacked him and used discriminatory language. The human rights defender denounced the attack but, to date, there is no investigator assigned to the case.
In July 2015, Sandra Zambrano made a request to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to request the extension of the protection measures granted to the organization in 2013. Sandra Zambrano has declared the Honduran State responsible for any injury or attack that may happen to her to her, her colleagues or her family.
Watch this video about the situation described: