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Religious Network Condemns Killing of Honduran Human Rights Activist | earth beat

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Mexico City— An ecumenical coalition of religious and secular leaders has condemned the killing of an indigenous leader in Honduras and called for a full investigation into the death.

The Churches and Mining Network said in a statement that Pablo Isabel Hernández, a leader of the Lenca indigenous people in western Honduras, was shot “in the back on his way to church, where he was a active pastoral agent”.

Hernández was ambushed Jan. 9 while on his way to a local church with family members in the municipality of San Marcos de Caiquín, a police spokesman told The Associated Press.

The network’s January 10 statement, which focuses on the effect of mining on local communities and the environment, comes at a time when attacks on environmental and indigenous leaders in Honduras often go unpunished.

Hernández has worked as director of community radio Terán and in various environmental, education and human rights initiatives, according to the network. He was also a pastoral animator in his parish.

“We join our voices with people and national and international institutions who condemn this murder because silencing the voices of those who defend human rights, the rights of Mother Nature and those who inform society is an attack on democracy. and community rights,” continues the network’s statement, published in English and Spanish.

Hernández had spoken out against city officials and received threats, which he made public. The electrical equipment of his radio was sabotaged in February 2021.

Hernández had spoken out against city officials and received threats, which he made public. The electrical equipment of his radio was sabotaged in February 2021.

Hernández was the second Lenca leader killed in less than a year. And in 2016, Berta Cáceres, perhaps the most famous Lenca indigenous leader and conservationist, was murdered in her home in western Honduras for organizing opposition to a hydroelectric project, sparking international outcry. Eight people, including a former army intelligence officer, were convicted of Cáceres’ murder.

“In 2021, violent incidents against some 208 human rights defenders and 93 journalists were recorded (in Honduras), 10 of which were killings of human rights defenders,” the network said.

In November, Honduras voted overwhelmingly for Xiomara Castro in the presidential election in a sign of weariness and frustration with incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández, whose eight years in power have been marked by impunity, corruption and accusations close links with drug traffickers.

“The Honduran people are fed up with the way the country has been governed, the abuse of power and private interests, and because the big problems of the country have not been dealt with responsibly, as in the case of the pandemic,” said Jesuit Father Ismael. Moreno Cota told Catholic News Service on the eve of the election.

He described people wanting to “punish those who have ruled the country in recent years”, rather than supporting any particular candidate.