Repression against women and violence that doesn’t stop

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By: Camila Parodi and Laura Salomé Canteros / Source: / The Dawn / December 1, 2015.-

The banner reads: "No to the Coup (golpe) d'Etat and NO to punches (golpes) against women", and the sign reads: "Wendy Ávila, murdered by the military"
The banner reads: “No to the Coup (golpe) d’Etat and NO to punches (golpes) against women”, and the sign reads: “Wendy Ávila, murdered by the military”

On November 25, international day for eradication of the violences against women, proposes to explore Latin America with those who organize and resist the oppressions from feminist and women’s movement. In this issue, we share voices of Honduran and Lenca people that resist violences against their bodies and territories.


Honduran Daniela Galindo kept intact in her memory the legacy of struggles of her indigenous Garifuna and Lenca peoples as well as the recent resistance of feminists. Even though she is young, her life experience has been so intense that she has already learned about repression and organization for struggle.


Galindo tells us that the struggle is always present in her country; Honduras’ history is full of violence and aberrations against people, and especially against those who organize and resist. In this context, she recounts two recent events that evidence the situation that they are still suffering as consequences of June 28, 2009 coup against democratically elected president, Manuel Zelaya.


From that moment on, the instilling of fear against those who resist the usurpation of their territories, began, as well as the repression against their bodies. Galindo reflects on current context and says that, in less than a week, organized women that were demonstrating on November 25 and indigenous Lenca people that were resisting the advance of extractivism and ransacking of their lands, have been violently repressed.


Honduras is a clear example of a model that powers try to export to the whole region, where control over territories and bodies is shockingly cruel.


– On November 25, women’s organizations were mobilized, in Honduras as well as in many parts of the continent, to say NO to violence against women, however, this violence was promoted and redirected from the State. Does this show the situation that women face in Honduras?


– On November 25 we celebrate the day against violence against women, and throughout the world women take to streets to protest and denounce all cases of violence. Honduras was not an exception, and on 4 a.m. that same day, around 40 members of different organizations went to the Presidential House in Tegucigalpa, Honduras capital, and when they arrived they encountered that barricades was being placed to prevent access, and immediately, without notice, they were beaten by a contingent of police and army that were guarding the headquarters of the Executive Power.


Among them were members of organizations such as the Women’s Right Center (CDM), the Center for Women’s Studies in Honduras (CEMH) and the Network of Women of the Red Cross Colony of Comayagüela.


The director of the CEMH, Suyapa Martínez, denounced the aggression that they suffered at the hand of presidential guards; first they were threatened by the guards with aggressions, which they committed minutes later: they beat her with sticks and pointed their guns at them.


Merari Medina, 15, was brutally beaten by military officers, and several pregnant women were also beaten. On the other hand, journalist Dina Meza denounced that a minor had been put in a police patrol to detain her but a group of women managed to rescue her, since they feared for her life.

COPINH, Honduras
COPINH, Honduras


– Is this situation representative of the context that Honduras is going through since 2009?


– This repression comes from the context of massacres that happened in the last 24 months in Honduras. The National Commissioner of Human Rights (CONADEH) details that, in 21 months of the currents mandate, almost 6,700 women complained before the ombudsman that they were victims of violations of their rights. Between January and September 2015, the CONADEH responded to 2,571 complaints from women, of which 827 are related to death threats, domestic violence, intrafamiliar violence and sexual violence, among others.


– They are denouncing these violations…


– Exactly. The National Network of Human Right Defenders in Honduras, as well as other national and international human rights organizations condemn this act of repression and violence against women who defend human rights, and the danger under which minors and babies were put through. This evidences, once more, the violation of human rights and criminalization of protest by Juan Orlando Hernandez government.


– A few days after that, the lenca people suffered a similar repression


– Yes, on November 20, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras was headed towards the Mobilization Against the Agua Zarca Project, and found great ditches, 2 meters deep, that prevented the buses from accessing to the place. This was ordered by Mayor of San Francisco de Ojuera, Raúl Pineda, and DESA company.


Since October, this company is trying to install an hydroelectric project, with no regard for international agreements that were previously signed. On October 16 the COPINH had installed a camp in the bank of the Sagrado Gualcarque river, as a means of pacific but determined demonstration. On November 4, there was a violent eviction to the communities of Samolo, San Juan, Ceguanca and Santa Barbara, who are in a process of reclaiming of their lands, and on November 7 they suffered threats, a few hours after the presence of the UN Special Rapporteur of Human Rights of the Indigenous Peoples.

COPINH, Honduras
COPINH, Honduras


– Since 2009, the persecution against social fighters has been intensifying. Is this situation still going on?


– Exactly. Not only are the lenca people being attacked for defending their territory. Last Friday November 27, in Trujillo city, communitary leader of the Garifuna, Vidal Leiva, who is President of the Defence Committee of the Lands of the Garifuna People, suffered an attack at the hands of gunmen.


Leiva suffered three bullet wounds, one of them in a lung and other in the liver. Despite the seriousness of the injuries, Leiva is in stable conditions. Nevertheless, in the community there is fear because of threats against members of the Defence Committee, that denounced being watched and followed by people alien to the community.


The Garifuna communities of Trujillo bay have been affected by the intense pressure of the government and companies on their territories since 2007, that peaked in 2010 with the demolition of Black River. This demolition was promoted by the Municipal power and achieved thanks to the threat of a forceful eviction, with the purpose of building a cruise dock known as Banana Coast.


There was another attack to the defensors of the Aguan and members of the Human Rights Watch of Aguan (OPDHA), Irma Lemus and Rigoberto Duran. They were attacked in the community of Zamora near the city of Tocoa, Colón.
Our people stand in struggle for the defence of the lands and territories, a right that is entitled to them by the Convention 169 of the ILO and the UN Declaration on the Rights of the Indigenous People.

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