In a statement issued Thursday, the group Rights Action denounced Wednesday's illegal arrest of Miriam Miranda and three other Garifuna leaders by Honduran authorities as “very worrying because of the nature of systemic repression and violence, corruption and impunity in Honduras.”
The Toronto-based organization compared the situation of Miriam Miranda, under police protection, with that of late Honduran activist Berta Caceres, assassinated on March 3, 2016, despite being under police protection. On Wednesday, Miranda was illegally detained by the very police ordered to protect her.
“In 2015, Miriam and Berta were co-recipients of the Óscar Romero Human Rights Award," said the statement, adding, “Miriam is the most respected land, human rights and environmental defender in Honduras, particularly since the 2009 military coup that was backed and legitimized by the governments of the U.S. and Canada."
For many years, Miriam – like Berta before her – has received so-called protective measures from police at the request of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, given previous attacks and years of threats for her outspoken environmental and human rights activism.
Before the 2009 military coup – and particularly since then – Miriam has been at the forefront of community struggles to resist illegal and violent evictions of Garifuna people from their traditional territories. The evictions – always backed by police, army and privately hired security – are driven by both Honduran and international tourism industry investors.
“The U.S. and Canadian-backed military coup on June 28, 2009, marked a serious and qualitative turn for the worse in Honduras’ situation of inequality and racism, repression and violence, corruption and impunity. And, since then, the U.S. and Canadian governments, the U.S. military, and a host of North American companies have maintained or increased economic investments with and military support for the repressive, corrupt regimes in power,” concluded the statement.