The U.S.-backed terror state of Honduras remains a dangerous free-fire zone against community leaders…
“Honduras: Attempted killing of human rights defender Ms María Santos Domínguez,” Front Line Defenders, 2014/3/7
On 5 March 2014, as human rights defender Ms María Santos Domínguez returned to her home, she was surrounded and attacked with sticks, stones and machete by a group of seven individuals. Her husband and her son came to her rescue but were also attacked, with her son losing his ear. María Santos Domínguez has faced death threats on repeated occasions.
María Santos Domínguez is the co-ordinator of the Organización del Consejo Indígena del Río Blanco y del Sector Norte de Intibucá (Indigenous Coucil of Río Blanco and the North of Intibucá). The human rights defender is also a member of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Indígenas y Populares de Honduras – COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras) and an emblematic leader in the struggle for the defence of the Gualcarque river and the indigenous Lenca territory. Her husband, Mr Santos Roque Domínguez, is also a member of COPINH and a community activist. ….
María Santos Domínguez, as well as her husband and son, have been the target of serious threats and attacks because of their work in opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric plant. The same group who attacked them on 5 March also destroyed their crops on a previous occasion.
Honduras is one of the most dangerous countries in the world to be a human rights defender, owing to threats, defamation, judicial harassment, physical attacks, attempted killings and killings. Indigenous leader and member of COPINH, Mr Justo Sorto was killed on 21 January 2014. Human rights defender Mr Tomás García was killed on 15 July 2013, and the case has still not been properly investigated.
Here is how Witness for Peace describes the political context:
“Since the June 2009 coup d’état in Honduras, criminalization of human rights defenders in the country has dramatically escalated. The U.S. government continues to fund Honduran police and military forces in the name of the War on Drugs – despite overwhelming evidence that the police and military are routinely involved in violating the human rights of innocent Honduran citizens.
The situation in the indigenous community of Río Blanco is particularly concerning. This community has peacefully mobilized in opposition to the Agua Zarca project, a hydroelectric dam in the community of Río Blanco, Intibuca. The dam is a project of the Honduran company DESA and other collaborators. The indigenous community of Rio Blanco contends that the dam is an illegal. In response to the protests, the area has been militarized.”