Confronting fear and terror: Women’s voices at International Conference on Human Rights of Bajo Aguan in Honduras

By Margie Thompson, ESCRIBANA

February 13, 2012

Women in the tiny town of Bajo Aguan, Honduras face fear and terror everyday, for their children, for the elders, for the men.  They face ongoing sexual harrassment and assaults by armed security guards, military and police who since 2009 on behalf of wealthy landowners and backed by the government regime have been waging a deadly campaign to confiscate the farmland of the families in the region, said feminist activist Melissa Condesa, in an interview with ESCRIBANA. 

"Bodies, struggles and hopes of women," a workshop in Bajo Aguan on February 16 as part of a series of events for the International Convention on Human Rights of Aguan in Honduras

“Fear is a weapon,” noted Condesa. “The women live in an environment in which all rights are liable to be violated…the right to a decent life, which involves food, education, health, a land to live, the right to farm, to work, to live in peace.”

Women’s perspectives and strategies to deal with the serious human rights violations in their communities in Bajo Aguan will be the focus of ESCRIBANA coverage in English & Spanish at the International Human Rights Conference of Aguan in Tocoa City in Northern Honduras, February 17-20, 2012.  The event focuses on the escalating militarism, along with assassinations, harassment and evictions of campesinos and their leaders in the struggle to keep their land in Bajo Aguan.

ESCRIBANA will also cover a workshop on February 16 focusing on violence and women’s bodies organized by the Women’s Forum for Life, and another workshop on February 17 involving children from the community.

At the International Human Rights Conference, an expected 400 national and international participants will address solutions to this critical human rights situation by developing collective constructions for justice, dignity and life through international solidarity to confront militarism, land dispossession, displacement, kidnappings, and violence.

Objectives of the event include:

  • Make evident the continuity of the coup in Honduras (in June, 2009) and its expression in the whole institutional apparatus responsible for the impunity and the intensification of state violence.
  • Strengthen the bonds of solidarity and brotherhood among people’s struggles and the world, from the common face of the grave situation of violation of human rights in Honduras.
  • Make visible and denounce the violations of human rights in Honduras, especially in Lower Aguán.
  • Understand the link between militarization, transnationalization, the struggle for land and the violation of human rights in the region and country

The events will include testimonies and homage to the victims of the 3-year siege, discussion of the national and international context, and sharing of experiences leading to development of long term strategies to deal with the crisis.  Also to be formed are National and International Solidarity Brigades to accompany the communities. 

Condesa explained that at least 50 farmers and community leaders have been killed in the struggle through the Lower Aguan, and many more have been kidnapped and assaulted.  “The land is not sold, the land is defended,” declared Condesa in describing the stance of the campesino movement.  Agreements signed by the Honduran government and MUCA – the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguan – have constantly been violated with the continued siege, according to a 2011 report by OPHIDA – the Permanent International Human Rights Observatory.

On February 16, ESCRIBANA will cover events in La Confianza organized by the organization Women’s Forum for Life including a workshop on February 16 entitled, “Women’s bodies, struggles and hopes.” Condesa said the event is designed to assist women in finding their voices to talk about how violence of the militarization and repression affects their bodies. 

Another workshop is scheduled for February 17 called, “Seed of dreams, childhood struggling for peace,” in which about 50 children will create a fun and creative space to give voice to their experiences and aspirations in the communities of Bajo Aguan.  They will also work to process their feelings about living with militarization and repression through creative expression of writing, singing and painting.

To follow the coverage of these events and join in the discussion go to the ESCRIBANA blog at: https://escribanas.wordpress.com and http://escribanas.facebook.com.   For more information write to Margie Thompson at: mthompso@du.edu , Yarman Jimenez at: yarman.elaine@gmail.com or Maria Suarez Toro at maria.escribana@gmail.com.

ESCRIBANA is a communications consulting agency to support women, their organizations, institutions and movements and to document their personal and collective experiences.   For more information see our blog at: https://escribanas.wordpress.com.
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