[WHRDAlert] HONDURAS / OFRANEH’s Ancestral House of Health burned down in Garifuna community of San Juan

April 24, 2023

Last April 18th, the Ancestral House of Health of OFRANEH was burned to the ground in the San Juan Garifuna community. 

Unknown persons set fire to the House, reducing to ashes the belongings and objects found there. This act of violence constitutes a direct attack on the life and health of the Garifuna community. 

The Ancestral Houses of Health initiated by OFRANEH constitute a deeply political project for the recovery and strengthening of ancestral know-how and wisdom. 

Systematic violence against the Garifuna people is evident in racially motivated violence aimed at the extermination of ancestral territories in towns and villages, which are continually invaded by third parties and displaced by entrepreneurs. 

This violence is compounded by the Public Prosecutor’s failure to achieve significant advances in the investigation of the forced disappearance of four Garifuna youth from  Triunfo de la Cruz; in the violent evacuations of the Garifuna community in Punta Gorda; in the judicial persecution, criminalization, and harassment of OFRANEH Coordinator Miriam Miranda;  and in the failure of the Honduran government to implement sentences for abuses of the communities of Punta Piedra and Triunfo de la Cruz dictated by the Inter-American Court of Human Rights eight years ago. 

The campaign of hatred, scorn, and stigma against the Garifuna people is manifest in many ways, including the plunder of their natural resources, the scorn for their ancestral wisdom, and the conversion of local residents into victims of persecution, criminalization, judicial prosecution, imprisonment, forced disappearances and  assassinations.

We of IM-Defensoras and the National Network of Women Human Rights Defenders in Honduras denounce and condemn this most recent attack against the culture, identity, autonomy, and ongoing existence of the Garifuna people. 

We demand an end to the threats and persecution against their communities and call on national and international entities to stay on the alert in the face of this high-risk situation faced by those who defend the territories and ancestral rights of the Garifuna people.