Honduras: Death threats against human rights defender Ms. Gladys Lanza
Human rights defender Ms Gladys Lanza, Coordinator of the Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla (Honduran Women's Committee for Peace "Visitación Padilla") has been subjected to death threats and intimidation.
The Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla is a collective of women human rights defenders from across Honduras who work on issues such as gender violence and women's participation in public life, in addition to advocating for democracy and human rights in Honduras.
On 17 July 2010, Gladys Lanza received an email containing death threats. The threatening message was sent to her email address at 10:52 pm and in it the sender accused her of stealing money from another NGO, and of sending people “to kill in San Pedro Sula” when “you controlled the guerrillas of the Communist Party in Padilla Fush” (¿ya no te acordas de la gente que mandastes a matar en San Pedro Sula cuando controlabas la guerrilla del partido comunista de Padilla Fush?). The message, which contained derogatory and crude language, ended with the statement, “Now we will bring you down, old fool!!!” (“Ahorita te caemos, vieja ignorante!!!”). The email was accompanied by six photographs. One contained an image of a funeral, showing a casket guarded by men wearing prisoners' uniforms. Another image showed a sniper in a window holding a gun aimed at a target. A third photograph was of a clock with the time 10:12. There were also two images of Gladys Lanza, taken from the website www.defensoresenlinea.com, and a picture of Billy Joya Amendola, a former agent from the Honduran army battalion 3-16, which carried out political assassinations, disappearances and kidnappings of government opponents during the 1980s, and which was reportedly funded and trained by the CIA.
This email was received only three hours after Gladys Lanza took part in a radio programme called “Voices Against Forgetting”, sponsored by the Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras – COFADEH (Committee for the Families of Disappeared Detainees), in which she commented on the resurgence of militarism and its reinforcement in Honduras and Latin America. The programme is transmitted on Honduran channel Radio Globo at 7:00 pm each Saturday.
The threats have followed other recent activities criticising Honduran militarisation. On 14 July 2010 the Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla released a statement entitled “The Homeland is not for sale, for rent or loan. The Yankee objective is for war in the Central American region” (“La Patria no se vende, no se alquila ni se presta. Región centroamericana objetivo yanqui para la guerra”), which condemned the presence of North American military bases in Honduras. That night, Gladys Lanza noticed unusual movements of various vehicles outside her home, which continued for more than thirty minutes.
Gladys Lanza and other members of the Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla have reported threats, intimidation and harassment for more than a year, all of which began after Gladys Lanza signed and sent a letter to US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton, asking her to declassify information regarding human rights violations in Honduras during the 1980s, in particular information about the aforementioned Billy Joya Amendola.
This intimidation has included an ongoing series of threatening phone calls which began on 15 June 2010. On 8 March 2010, while the Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla ran events to celebrate International Women's Day, the tyres of the organisation's vehicle were slashed while it was parked outside the office. Unknown individuals in different vehicles have been seen outside Gladys Lanza's home on various occasions since July 2009, either parked outside, driving past slowly, or watching her home and taking photographs from a vantage point inside another rented house opposite. Unknown persons have also been watching the organisation's offices.
On 26 November 2009, Ms Merly Eguigure, another coordinator of the organisation, was detained by the Preventative Police and accused of damaging state property. She was freed 24 hours later but the Prosecutor opened an investigation into her case. On the same day, a car belonging to Ms Cristina Alvarado, another staff member of the organisation, was tampered with while parked outside the premises of the No. 1 Municipal Police in Tegucigalpa while she and various colleagues from the organisation were inside trying to secure the release of Merly Eguigure.
On 24 July 2009, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights granted precautionary protection measures for Gladys Lanza. The State of Honduras accepted the request on 5 October 2009. However, to date no such measures have been implemented.
Front Line believes that the threats against and intimidation of Gladys Lanza and the staff of the Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla are a direct result of their human rights activities, in particular their work on women's rights and accountabilities for past human rights violations in Honduras. Front Line is extremely concerned for the physical and psychological integrity of Gladys Lanza and all staff members of the Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla.
Front Line calls on you to urge the authorities in Honduras to:
1. Carry out an immediate, impartial and thorough investigation into the threats received by Gladys Lanza, with a view to publishing the results and bringing those responsible to justice in accordance with international standards; 2. Guarantee the security and physical and psychological integrity of Gladys Lanza and all staff members of el Movimiento de Mujeres por la Paz Visitación Padilla, in particular by implementing precautionary measures as ordered by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights; 3. Guarantee in all circumstances that human rights defenders in Honduras are able to carry out their legitimate human rights activities without fear of reprisals, and free of all restrictions.
Go to the link below to take action