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Grassroots organisation OFRANEH denounces kidnapping and disappearance of Garifuna leader in Honduras

Armed group kidnapped the President of the Triunfo de la Cruz Community Board and three other young leaders

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48 hours after the kidnapping and disappearance of Sneider Centeno, President of the Triunfo de la Cruz Community Board and active member of the Black Fraternal Organisation of Honduras (OFRANEH), Real World Radio interviewed fellow OFRANEH member César Benedith, who denounced that they have not yet received “any type of answer from the government.”

At the time of the interview, the Garifuna community of Triunfo de la Cruz, in Honduras, had blocked Road C13 to demand the safe return of the young men kidnapped on Saturday 18 July by an armed group dressed as police officers.

The community of Triunfo de la Cruz is 220 km away from Honduras’ capital city, Tegucigalpa. For decades companies have been showing interest in taking over these lands to develop tourism and exploit the natural resources.

In 2015, the Inter-American Court of Human Rights ruled in favour of the inhabitants, forcing the Honduras State to “grant the Garifuna community a collective ownership title” over their territories. However, OFRANEH denounces that, so far, the ruling has not been enforced.

César Benedith told Real World Radio that the kidnapping of his colleague may be linked to his demands for the ruling to be enforced: “We have been denouncing the lack of will by the State to comply with this ruling. We are under a failed State, a State that does not ensure the safety of our community which has been granted precautionary measures.” He also highlighted: “Several leaders have been murdered and not even one of these cases has been solved.”

A month ago, Antonio Bernárdez, a local resident from the Punta Piedra community, also disappeared. His body was later found in a road leading to Icoteas community.

In addition to Sneider Centeno, the armed group also took Milton Joel Martínez, Suami Aparicio Mejía and Alber Sentana Thomas.

OFRANEH is asking the international community to stand in solidarity with the Garifuna people and to publicly denounce these kidnappings and disappearances of defenders of territories.

 

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