Over two years has passed since four indigenous Miskitu people were violently killed, and three gravely injured during a joint Honduran-U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) anti-drug interdiction operation in the Moskitia region in eastern Honduras. This mission was one of many promoted by the U.S. government and its allies, in the failed and on-going War on Drugs in the region.
Since the night of the May 11, 2012 massacre, the lives of the survivors and their family members have been forever altered. They still lack any effective judicial, economic, medical, and political remedies despite reassurances from the U.S. Embassy in Tegucigalpa that the matter has been handled.
It has become extremely important given recent developments, that all family members and victims of the massacre participate in a meeting to share and discuss the legal developments of their case, and clarify a recent alleged State Department-funded reparations project that has created tension, stress, and confusion among them. Many are interested in traveling to Tegucigalpa to discuss the following, but they need your help to do so:
• Legal Strategy:
Between February and March 2013, a Honduran judge acquitted three Honduran agents for their involvement in the May 2012 drug interdiction operation. Not surprising given the corruption and lack of political will to persecute and punish human rights violations in Honduras, the judge ruled in a flawed trial that the agents in the anti-drug mission used legitimate force. The Committee of the Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH), the legal representative for the Ahuas victims, recently appealed the decision. No U.S. agents have been investigated, charged, or arrested. Reports indicate the U.S. Embassy refused access to the weapons and names of U.S. agents involved, impeding any legitimate investigation. Any further national and international steps in this case will need to involve the input of all family members and victims.
• (Failed and Suspected) U.S. Reparations Attempt:
Unwilling to recognize responsibility and provide a transparent reparations process, the U.S. State Department provided funds in late 2013/early 2014 to the Honduran government, reported to be $150,000 thus far with another $50,000 in the pipeline, for regional ‘development’ in Ahuas to the non-governmental organization INGWAIA. INGWAIA, run by Hondurans with close ties to the National Party, approached victims and family members on an individual basis and failed to disclose the source and reason for the financial support, committing to housing improvement, reportedly with a total cost of no more then $1,200 per victim . INGWAIA ignored the victims’ most pressing needs –such as medical assistance and support for those disabled by the attack and education and support for the orphaned children. At least one family member was asked to purchase significant quantities of construction materials before INGWAI would agree to initiate the house construction project. The irresponsible, even abusive manner of dispersing the funds has been predictably divisive, causing misunderstandings, and tensions between victims and family members as they witness some receiving support and others not. A meeting of all victims will provide a space for a discussion about the alleged reparations project and the necessary steps required to handle the mismanaged situation on a local level and at the level of the U.S. government responsible for initiating it.
• Investigations Being Conducted by the Office of Inspector Generals (OIGs) in the Department of Justice and State Department:
In May 2014, the OIG of the US Department of Justice announced that they were conducting a joint review with the Department of State OIG of three drug interdiction missions in 2012 involving the use of deadly force in Honduras. The impact this investigation will have on the Ahuas victims and family members, if any, is unknown. However, what it entails and involves as disclosed to the general public should be communicated directly to those affected by the May 2012 massacre.
• On-going Needs:
Living in different communities in the large, and geographically-isolated Moskitia region has made contact among them and their allies very difficult. A meeting in Tegucigalpa of those affected by May 11, 2012 will encourage greater communication and mutual support. Touching base and outlining their on-going needs will also be beneficial for future engagement with the U.S. government and judicial system in Honduras as well as reignite public interest in the case.
We need to raise $4,266 so that all victims can travel to Tegucigalpa to meet, discuss, and act to denounce the developments of this case.
(Full budget included in complete fundraising appeal)
This month, the survivors and allies hope to meet to advance their campaign to hold the DEA and Honduran authorities accountable, but distances and travel costs along the jungle rivers, and their extreme poverty have prevented them from gathering until now. The Moskitia has become a major front in the drug war, and the Ahuas victims know that they must pursue a just resolution or many more of their Moskitu indigenous brothers and sisters will wrongly die. With your help and together they will support each other to survive the hardships while demanding peace in their communities.
Please make a donation for travel and meeting expenses.
Donations can be made at: https://www.crowdrise.com/ahuas