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Honduras: Apparent extrajudicial executions / fear for safety

, Index number: AMR 37/008/1997

Jorge Castillo and Julian Alberto Morales, killed; Roberto Martinez, Miguel Antonio Martinez, Salvador Zuniga, Candido Roberto Martinez and other members of the indigenous community: On 21 October 1997, Jorge Castillo and Julian Alberto Morales, members of the Garifunas indigenous group, were reportedly extrajudicially executed by five land owners alleged to have links with local authorities. On 24 October, some other indigenous leaders were arrested and Amnesty International is concerned for their safety.

EXTERNAL AI Index: AMR 37/08/97
UA 335/97 Apparent extrajudicial executions/
Fear for safety 29 October 1997
HONDURASJorge Castillo, aged 28, killed )
Julián Alberto Morales, aged 17, killed )
Roberto Martínez, aged 45 ) leaders and
Miguel Antonio Martínez, aged 50 ) activists
Salvador Zúniga )
Cándido Roberto Martínez )
Other members of the indigenous community )
Amnesty International is extremely concerned at recent and ongoing human rights
violations, including extrajudicial killings and death threats against Indian
peasant leaders, perpetrated by businessmen and landowners, in collusion with
local authorities, in land disputes in the community of Triunfo de la Cruz,
Tela Atlantida.
On 21 October 1997, Jorge Castillo and Julián Alberto Morales, members of the
Garifunas indigenous group, were reportedly extrajudicially executed by five
heavily armed terratenientes, landowners, alleged to have links with local
In the same incident Roberto Martínez, Miguel Antonio Martínez and a number
of other active leaders of the Garifunas indigenous people, were also
ill-treated and threatened.
On 24 October, warrants for the arrest of a number of indigenous leaders were
issued. This included Salvador Zúniga, President of Comité de Organizaciones
Populares e Indígenas de Intibucá, (COPIN), Committee of Indigenous and Popular
Organizations of Intibucá and Cándido Roberto Martínez. This followed their
participation in a peaceful meeting with other indigenous leaders to plan
protest activities at the latest killings including a plan to stage a
demonstration in the capital, Tegucigalpa.
Businessmen, in association with local landowners in Tela, wish to build an
expensive tourist complex on land belonging to indigenous peoples on the
seafront. The indigenous community are strongly opposed to this development
which will destroy their homes and livelihood, which depends on the sea.
According to reports nine members of different indigenous groups have been
murdered, reportedly extrajudicially executed, in 1997. To date impunity
prevails in all these cases. The recent murders of Jorge Castillo and Julian
Alberto Morales has heightened fears for the immediate safety of other
indigenous people who have been subjected to a continuous and systematic
campaign of human rights violations over some years in an apparent attempt
to intimidate them into silence concerning land issues.
For further information please refer to the letter addressed to the President
of Honduras TG AMR 37/03/97 on 20 May 1997 and to Urgent Action 274/97, AMR
37/03/97 on 14 August 1997 and follow ups AMR 37/04/97 on 15 August 1997 and
AMR 37/05/97 on 19 August 1997 and CASA action 7/97.
RECOMMENDED ACTION: Please send telegrams/telexes/faxes/express/airmail
letters in Spanish or your own language:
- calling for a prompt, full and independent investigation into the reported
extrajudicial execution of Jorge Castillo and Julián Alberto Morales and the
ill-treatment of Roberto Martínez and Miguel Antonio Martínez, and other
indigenous leaders on 21 October 1997;
- urging that those responsible be promptly brought to justice;
- calling for immediate and effective measures to ensure the safety of all
indigenous people in Honduras;
- expressing concern at the impunity enjoyed by those responsible for the
If possible:
- requesting the government comply with agreements signed at national and
international level, mentioning some of the following: International Labour
Organization (ILO), Covenant 169, signed in 1994 which specifically calls for
the respect of indigenous cultures and return of indigenous lands; the May
1997 agreement, as well as others signed in July 1996, 1995 and 1994, between
the Government of Honduras and indigenous peoples.
1) President
S.E. Carlos Roberto Reina Idiaquez
Presidente de la República de Honduras
Casa Presidencial,6ª Avenida, 1ª Calle
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Telegrams: Presidente, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Faxes: +504 344947
Salutation: Sr. Presidente / Dear President
2) Minister of Foreign Affairs
Sr. Delmar Orbizo
Ministro de Relaciones Exteriores
Ministerio de Relaciones Exteriores
Edificio Atalaya, Avenida La Paz
Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Telegrams: Ministro Relaciones Exteriores, Tegucigalpa, Honduras
Faxes: +504 31-0097
Salutation: Sr. Ministro / Dear Minister
1) Ombudsman
Lic. Leo Valladares Lanza
Comisionado Nacional de Protección de los Derechos Humanos
Avda. Los Próceres 3623
Tegucigalpa MDC., Honduras
Faxes: +504 36 7213
Email: conadeh1@gbm.hn
2) Indigenous organizations
Confederación de Pueblos Autóctonos
de Honduras (CONPAH)
Apartado 20-585,
M.D.C. Honduras
Faxes: +504 25 49 25 (If voice: por favor me puede dar tono de fax)
E-mail: conpah%conpah@sdnhon.org.hn
and to diplomatic representatives of Honduras accredited to your country.
PLEASE SEND APPEALS IMMEDIATELY. Check with the International Secretariat,
or your section office, if sending appeals after 11 December 1997.

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