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Selvin Mejia's murder is the third violent act against an Honduran environmental activist so far this year. Other ten social leaders were violently assassinated in 2021.
On Wednesday, Isabel Albaladejo, the representative of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) in Honduras, urged this country's authorities to investigate the death of Indigenous Tolupan leader Selvin Mejia who was shot to death and whose body was found in Morazan Municipality on Jan. 22.
Since 2014, Mejia had been trying to recover Tolupan ancestral lands through the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ). Some days before his assassination, he organized actions to defend Indigenous rights over the land against forest lumbering plans.
According to the information released by OHCHR, Mejia's murder is the third against a human rights and environmental defender in Honduras so far in 2022. Other ten social leaders were violently assassinated in 2021.
One of the first reactions against this political assassination came from Olivia Zuniga, the daughter of environmentalist Bertha Caceres, who was also assassinated for defending indigenous territories in 2016. "Solidarity with the comrades of the Broad Movement. I join the cry for justice," she tweeted.
Currently, the Tolupan Indigenous people is made up of some 20,000 people distributed in 28 communities that are located in the Yoro department. Historically, they have devoted themselves to agriculture. This was how they built a close relationship with nature and developed a sense of responsibility and care about the treatment natural assets must receive.
In recent years many members of this Indigenous people have opposed wood and mining companies interested in Tolupan territory, which has provoked internal protests and disputes. So far, MADJ has recorded 10 murders linked to these conflicts.
According to Global Witness, over 120 environmental defenders have died in Honduras since 2010. The victims were ordinary people who took a stand against dams, mines, or logging on their territory. They were murdered by state forces, security guards, or hired assassins.