Human rights defender Rufino Bulnes Mejía was 27 years old when he was kidnapped while making some administrative arrangements in the Aguadero community in Honduras. He was then killed and his body was dumped.
Rufino Bulnes was a member of the Tolupan people, and belonged to La Candelaria tribe. The reason why he was killed: taking an active role in the community, mainly carrying out surveillance activities. The Tolupan are indeed the most marginalised indigenous group in Honduras, living in extreme poverty in remote rural areas with little access to basic services. This makes them more vulnerable to aggressions, criminalisation and attacks.
The killing of Rufino Bulnes is emblematic because it represents the case of many other indigenous peoples that are seeing their natural resources exploited, and their voices silenced when they try to denounce it. Indigenous communities in Honduras, such as the Tolupan, constantly challenge private companies that carry out unlawful mining activities and implement illicit hydroelectric power projects. It is through these commitments that they are recognised as human rights defenders.
HRDs that decide to stand for their land rights become an obstacle to big land owners, whose interests are to keep exploiting the land for profit. Unfortunately, many of these human rights defenders suffer the same fate as Rufino Bulnes.