The National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders of Honduras (La Red Nacional de Defensoras de DDHH de Honduras), along with a wide range of social movements that raised their voices, expresses gratitude that the women and men of the Peasant Movement of San Manuel Cortes (Movimiento Campesino de San Manuel Cortes - MOCSAM) who were detained on 12 June were released.
On June 12, 2012 at 6:30am a large police and military force violently evicted MOCSAM, located around 250 kilometers north of the capital. The peasant group began the process of taking land back on April 17, and since then they have been evicted three times.
As a result of this most recent eviction, at least 21 people were taken into custody, 18 of which are women. They have been transferred to the police headquarters Ballena in San Pedro Sula in the north of Honduras.
A few weeks ago, despite being targeted and threatened by big landowners, the peasant group decided to occupy some 4252 manzanas of land (around 7400 acres). This action was supported by a recent resolution of the National Agrarian Institute that clearly established that the land in question is state property that is being illegally occupied by the businesses there.
Since April 17, the peasant group formed a coalition of 1,500 families to fight for their land, much of which has since been destroyed by the violent eviction, including some 100 manzanas of land used for corn cultivation.
It is worth mentioned that a few days ago Judge José Antonio Barahona gave an order to capture seven peasant leaders from the group. Yesterday, after just two hours of deliberation, he gave an order to evict the group in the early hours of the morning, not allowing the families a chance to defend themselves or make an appeal to avoid this brutality.
They were released after a hearing on the morning of 13 June. However, their freedom was delivered on certain conditions, reports Ms. Brenda Mejía, a lawyer from ERIC who attended the case. The conditions consist of requiring all those detained to sign in once a week, to stay away from the land on which they live and to not participate in demonstrations. Ms. Mejía denounced a series of irregularities in the legal process, above all highlighting the fact that Habeas Corpus no longer functions properly as a legal tool in Honduras. According to the Law of Constitutional Justice (Ley de Justicia Consititucional), Habeas Corpus should go into effect immediately and should be given priority above all other functions or processes. However, this is not carried out according to the law. Ms. Mejía reports that in this case, they took more than three and a half hours to give a response, due to inefficient judicial authorities. This allowed the commencement of judicial proceedings against those accused and detained.
For the most part, the women are doing well, with the exception of three who were beaten. Those three have been taken to the medical examiner for an evaluation.
Furthermore, we denounce the abuse of the mother of the minor who was detained. Rather than work against the repressive forces that took this minor into custody without respect for her rights, The Public Prosecutors Office for Youth (Fiscalía de la Niñez) threatened her mother, warning her they could declare her daughter at risk. The police and the military that carried out the eviction put the life of that young woman at risk, as well as the lives of all of those who live in that area.
We give thanks again for the prompt response of our international allies. Ms. Brenda Mejía: “We express gratitude to the international community that responded to the call to action because only then could we ensure the authorities in Honduras knew that other countries are watching what is happening here in our country because otherwise we are helpless if not even Habeas Corpus is in place.
Honduras continues living under a politics of terror. Land recoveries have begun anew, and persecution will follow. This is just one attempt to set a precedent and send a message. Right now, the women and men of Movimiento Campesino de San Manuel Cortes MOCSAM, after facing an eviction that destroyed the land on which they live, will continue fighting to guarantee their piece of land upon which to cultivate, live and watch their children grow.
Once again, THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!
The National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders of Honduras
(La Red Nacional de Defensoras de DDHH de Honduras)