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Blog de jimloughran
Almost every week now there is an expensively produced supplement in one of the national papers in Guatemala denouncing the activities of environmental campaigners. This well funded PR campaign claims that human rights defenders and environmental activists protesting against the impact of mining projects are troublemakers funded from outside the country to undermine the economic development of the country and make money for themselves.
Last week Front Line Defenders Head of Communications, Jim Loughran, travelled to Guatemala for a meeting of national and international organisations meeting to discuss the deteriorating security situation for human rights defenders in the country. The following is the first of two blogs consisting of his diary entries over the course of the week.
Read part two here
Front Line Defenders Andrew Anderson reflects on the outcome of the elections. "Given the controversy in Kenya about foreign commentators' distorted versions of the elections it is with some trepidation that I write down some reflections as a "mzungu" who flew in for only a few days".
Front Line Defenders is currently undertaking a Cycle For Protection speaking tour of Ireland. With a team of 20 cyclists Front Line Defenders founder and Executive Director Mary Lawlor is leading the intrepid team from Dublin to Kilkenny to Carlow to Cork to Limerick and now Galway.
Mary is joined by Olga Sadovskaya from the Nizny Novgorod Committee Against Torture and Farai Maguwu from the Centre for Research and Documentation in Zimbabwe where he works documenting the horrific human rights abuses in the diamond fields of Marange.
Farai and Olga will be speaking at public meetings to raise awareness of the human rights situation in their respective countries.
Today in Galway - 3pm in the Human Rights Centre of UCG and tomorow at 12.00pm in the Earl of Rosse Theatre in Athlone IT - I hope you will be able to join us.
I spent yesterday travelling with Farai from Cork to Galway and as we drove along through the Irish countryside a tale of incredible courage and terrible violence unfolded.
Two years ago Farai had travelled to Europe to speak to the European Parliament about the rapes and killings perpetrated by the army in the diamond fields.
Adam Shapiro reports from Kyrgyzstan where he met Kahdija Askarov wife of jailed human rights defender Azimjan Askarov.
Khadija Askarov lives in her and her husband’s home in Bazaar Korgon, in an area of town devastated during the inter-ethnic clashes in 2010. The town, and parts of towns all over southern Krygyzstan, is still being rebuilt with some help from UNHCR, but mostly from efforts within the Uzbek community.
Honduras: El Servicio de Seguridad Nacional no pueden acudir a una reunion por no tener gasolina en su coche
Defensor de derechos humanos LGBT Donny Reyes habla aquí de lo sucedido cuando un pistolero intentó assassinarlo cuando caminaba en coche hacia su trabajo en Tegucigalpa, Honduras. La Unidad de Derechos Humanos del Servicio Nacional de Seguridad no pudieron asistir a la reunión prevista para el día siguiente por no tener gasolina en sus coches. No habian pagado su cuenta.
Honduras – Police fail to respond to attempted killing of LGBTI human rights defender Donny Reyes because they have no petrol
LGBTI human rights defender Donny Reyes describes what happened when a lone gun man tried to kill him on his way to work. "On 5 July 2012 I was leaving my home in Tegucigalpa when I spotted a man on a motor cycle on the corner who was obviously watching the house. He was about 150 netres away. This wasnt the first time I have been tracked like this so I spotted him straight away and tried to act normally.
Razan Ghazzawi, winner of the 2012 Front Line Defenders Award talks about the arrest of Sryian blogger Hussein Ghrer
Hussein Ghrer was detained on 16-2-2012 in a raid on Syrian Center for Media and Freedom of Expression’s office in Damascus by Air Force Intelligence – Mazzah branch. This is Ghrer’s second arrest; he was detained on 24-10-2011 and released on 1-12-2011 on bail and is still on trial.
Today was a 5am start as we flew up to Flores in the Petén region of Guatemala to visit the national park and see exactly why the protection of the environment is such a vital issue here and why it has inspired such total dedication from Yuri (Melini).
It's one of those windy-up planes with propellers and there is a short intake of breath when we see it on the runway. "The Adventures of Biggles" come to mind!
It's a short, one hour flight and we fly in over pristine forest, huge lakes and finally reach what looks like a miniature version of Venice, the island town of Flores.
It is much hotter here than in Guatemala City and by the time we reach the hotel for breakfast we are already in a lather. Sitting on the terrace of the hotel, looking out over the lake it is hard to believe that this semi-paradise is also a place where human rights defenders have been attacked and killed and where, according to one source, many people don't need to work because they have made their money trading in stolen archaeological artefacts.
We drive up to the access point into the park and there, because we are with Yuri (Melini) we are ushered through as guests of the Director.
After meeting the community in Peronia, we received a message that there were some people in the village of San Rafael who had been receiving threats because they were challenging the policy of a mining company who they felt were trampling over their rights. We arrived to a small village in a very beautiful area with lots of trees and green fields, surrounded by mountains... the kind of place that should be a haven of tranquility.
We went to the house of Oscar, who has been the target for a series of threats and he explained to us what had been happening.
He started by setting out how we, as humans, resist or challlenge something that is unknown to us or that has not been explained properly. It is our nature, he explained.
Recently a mining company has been given a licence to mine for gold, lead, silver and zinc in the area, and already the company has started the preliminary work.