WOLA is very alarmed by the militarization of Bajo Aguán, Honduras and calls on the government of Pepe Lobo to avoid confrontation and potential bloodshed. The Honduran government must act to deescalate the situation by immediately returning the military to the barracks.
Honduras is already under international scrutiny for serious human rights violations since the June 28 coup d'etat, and any act of violence against the campesinos will be yet another indicator of the new administration's unwillingness to address the serious human rights conditions. Since the inauguration, over 17 members of opposition groups and six journalists have been assassinated. The violations of human rights must stop.
On Sunday, President Lobo ordered over 2,000 members of the armed forces to surround a peaceful protest of landless farmers in Bajo Aguán, Honduras. The more than 3,000 families that constitute the Movimiento de Campesinos del Valle del Aguán (MUCA), or the Valle del Aguán Peasant Movement, demand the return of their constitutionally guaranteed land. MUCA has occupied over 4,000 hectares of contested land since May 2009 and four members of the organization have been murdered since the demonstration began. Eyewitnesses have reported that the military personnel in Bajo Aguán have become increasingly aggressive with the civilian population. WOLA is deeply concerned that Lobo's decision to send a large military contingent could result in more human rights violations and foment even greater social unrest. WOLA calls on the Honduran government to demilitarize the Bajo Aguán, support peaceful dialogue without military intimidation, and guarantee the respect for human rights.