Urgent Appeal for Action on Behalf of Human Rights Defenders of LGBTI Organisation, APUVIMEH

Honduras: Kidnapping, surveillance, threats, harassment and intimidation of members of LGBTI organisation, APUVIMEH

September 3, 2010 /LGBT News - Front Line/ APUVIMEH works with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community and those affected by HIV / AIDS in Honduras. It also operates a shelter for people with HIV / AIDS and those of the LGBTI community, "Casa Renacer", and runs several projects including a program for prevention of HIV / AIDS and sexual infections, and a gay youth project.

In recent months, members and staff of APUVIMEH have been subject to surveillance, threats, kidnappings and intimidation. On 14 August 2010, an APUVIMEH officer who works in the prevention of HIV/ADIS project – whose name is known to Front Line but withheld for security reasons - was kidnapped in front of the offices of APUVIMEH. It is reported that the perpetrators, who have not been identified, pushed a handkerchief into his mouth along with an unknown type of pill. It believed that the pill was a sleeping tablet, as the APUVIMEH officer lost consciousness and cannot remember anything afterwards. Some 19 hours later, the man was found abandoned about 30kms from the municipal capital of San Juancito. His belongings had been robbed, including his university identification card, credit cards, cell phone, books and notebooks. The family decided not to report the kidnapping to the authorities because of their fear of reprisals, while the victim is severely traumatised by the attack.

The week of 9 August, a few days before the kidnapping, the residence of Ms Sandra Zambrano, project manager for APUVIMEH, was kept under surveillance by armed men. Unidentified men stood in front of the house for half an hour and asked neighbours and passersby questions about Sandra Zambrano and her family. On August 13, at approximately 9:00 am, it was noticed that APUVIMEH's office was being watched by an unknown man. On August 20, APUVIMEH filed a complaint with the Human Rights Unit of the Ministry of Security to ask for security measures. It was agreed that a police patrol would be provided for Sandra Zambrano's house and another for the organization's office. However, while officials conducted their patrols as planned on 23 August, they have not been back since and police have not been in contact Sandra Zambrano.

There have also been reports by APUVIMEH of several previous incidents of threats and harassment. Since December 2009, five of their members have fled the country to ensure their safety because of death threats, surveillance, intimidation, raising of their identities publicly and surveillance of the office. As a result of intimidation and surveillance, APUVIMEH has decided to close the office of its gay youth project with effect from 2 September. Front Line previously issued an urgent appeal in connection with Mr Walter Trochez, a member of APUVIMEH who was brutally murdered on 17 December 2009.

At least 30 members of the LGBTI community have reportedly been killed so far in 2010, and there are several documented cases of LGBTI fleeing the country for their safety.

TAKE ACTION!

Copy the enclosed letter and send it to the address provided.

Thank you for taking action on behalf of human rights defenders of LGBTI organisation, APUVIMEH.

Target adresses:

Presidente Porfirio Lobo
Oficina del Presidente,
Casa Presidencial,
Blvd Juan Pablo II
Tegucigalpa
Honduras

LETTER:

Your Excellency,

I express deep concern regarding recent incidents of kidnapping, surveillance, threats, harassment and intimidation against members of the LGBTI organization Association for a Better Life (AsociaciĆ³n por una Vida Mejor- APUVIMEH).

APUVIMEH works with the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex community and those affected by HIV / AIDS in Honduras. It also operates a shelter for people with HIV / AIDS and those of the LGBTI community, "Casa Renacer", and runs several projects including a program for prevention of HIV / AIDS and sexual infections, and a gay youth project.

In recent months, members and staff of APUVIMEH have been subject to surveillance, threats, kidnappings and intimidation. On 14 August 2010, an APUVIMEH officer who works in the prevention of HIV/ADIS project, was kidnapped in front of the offices of APUVIMEH. It is reported that the perpetrators, who have not been identified, pushed a handkerchief into his mouth along with an unknown type of pill. It believed that the pill was a sleeping tablet, as the APUVIMEH officer lost consciousness and cannot remember anything afterwards. Some 19 hours later, the man was found abandoned about 30kms from the municipal capital of San Juancito. His belongings had been robbed, including his university identification card, credit cards, cell phone, books and notebooks. The family decided not to report the kidnapping to the authorities because of their fear of reprisals, while the victim is severely traumatised by the attack.

The week of 9 August, a few days before the kidnapping, the residence of Ms Sandra Zambrano, project manager for APUVIMEH, was kept under surveillance by armed men. Unidentified men stood in front of the house for half an hour and asked neighbours and passersby questions about Sandra Zambrano and her family. On August 13, at approximately 9:00 am, it was noticed that APUVIMEH's office was being watched by an unknown man. On August 20, APUVIMEH filed a complaint with the Human Rights Unit of the Ministry of Security to ask for security measures. It was agreed that a police patrol would be provided for Sandra Zambrano's house and another for the organization's office. However, while officials conducted their patrols as planned on 23 August, they have not been back since and police have not been in contact Sandra Zambrano.

There have also been reports by APUVIMEH of several previous incidents of threats and harassment. Since December 2009, five of their members have fled the country to ensure their safety because of death threats, surveillance, intimidation, raising of their identities publicly and surveillance of the office. As a result of intimidation and surveillance, APUVIMEH has decided to close the office of its gay youth project with effect from 2 September.

I express serious concern regarding the above-mentioned incidents and view such actions as forming part of a systematic campaign of intimidation against members of the LGBTI community in Honduras, and in particular LGBTI human rights defenders. I am particularly concerned for the safety of Sandra Zambrano and other members of APUVIMEH, and consider that the surveillance, threats and intimidation directed against them are directly related to their work in defence of human rights. This campaign is becoming increasingly violent: at least 30 members of the LGBTI community have reportedly been killed so far in 2010, and there are several documented cases of LGBTI fleeing the country for their safety.

I urge you to call on the Honduran authorities to:

1. Immediately put an end to the ongoing campaign of harassment, intimidation, surveillance, kidnappings and threats against APUVIMEH and its staff members, and all other LGBTI human rights defenders in the country;

2. Take all necessary measures to ensure the safety and physical and psychological integrity of the human rights defenders previously mentioned, in particular through the immediate implementation of adequate and effective security measures;

3. Carry out an immediate, impartial and effective investigation into the kidnapping of the APUVIMEH officer and all other instances of intimidation and harassment, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards;

4. Guarantee that human rights defenders in Honduras can continue their work in the defence of human rights free of all restrictions and reprisals.

Yours Sincerely

Name:

Address:


Source: Front Line



2 comments:

  1. edy says

    sending it by email would be much easier. or signing a petition online. however, i understand why letters like this still have to be sent by snail mail. i am going to sign it and send it. good luck!


    Walli says

    sent!


2 comments so far. What do you think?