Honduras: mining company destabilizes community and threatens HRDs

August 9, 2013

Front Line reports the continuous presence of armed security guards in the community of La Nueva Esperanza, in the department of Atlántida, threatening and intimidating the local population, resulted in the temporary kidnapping of two human rights defenders, Mr Daniel Langmeier and Ms Orlane Vidal. Both are working for the Proyecto de Acompañamiento Honduras – PROAH (Honduras Accompaniment Project), an organisation which aims to prevent or alleviate situations of risk against human rights defenders in Honduras.Frontline NEWlogos-1 condensed version - cropped

The security guards have routinely been involved in the intimidation of the community, making explicit threats against those community members who have refused to sell their land to company of Lenir Pérez and those who have organised in a peaceful resistance movement to the mining operation. Two local community leaders have already been granted protective measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights following death threats made against them by Lenir Pérez.

On 24 July 2013, Daniel Langmeier and Orlane Vidal arrived in the community to spend the night with a local family which had been targeted by the armed guards. They had informed local police of their arrival; however, local police were absent from their post. The following morning, at approximately 9am, a group of seven heavily armed men and a further 25 workers from the mining site armed with machetes came to the house, led by a local man known to be employed with the mining operation. They threatened the two members of PROAH …stating that they would ‘disappear’ if they returned to the community.

After leading Daniel Langmeier and Orlane Vidal away from the town by foot, the armed men forced them to surrender photographic documentation of mining equipment and made them to enter a pick-up truck with several of the armed men. Eventually the human rights defenders were released in the community of Nueva Florida at 11:30am, amid threats that the community of La Nueva Esperanza would suffer retaliation if the incident was reported. Orlane Vidal was reportedly sexually intimidated during the incident. The next evening, armed men from the mining company drove through La Nueva Esperanza firing shots into the air. The family which had hosted the international human rights defenders has reportedly had to flee their home and go into hiding due to fears for their safety.


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