We, women of JASS Southern Africa, are writing to express our deepest concern for, and solidarity with the Black Indigenous Garifuna people of Honduras. As they have struggled to defend their lands, territories and lives, they have been met with rising aggression and violence from state and non-state forces. It is a reality that we also know all too well.
We are particularly concerned about the recent abduction of five young men from the community of Triunfo de la Cruz, Honduras on July 18 by men in police uniforms. The forced disappearance of Alberto Snider Centeno, Milton Joel Martínez Álvarez, Suami Aparicio Mejía Garcia, Gerardo Mizael Rochez Cálix and Junior Rafael Juarez Mejia, Garifunas who actively defended black indigenous land rights in the region and several of whom were members of the Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), takes place in the context of the escalation of violence that has occurred over the past few years, with the assassination of more than 20 Garifuna leaders.
In many of the countries we work in, the fight for land has taken centre stage with significant calls for expropriation and preservation of the little that was not stolen. Mining companies in cohorts with governments and traditional leaders have threatened communities and are responsible for the killing of activist leaders leading the defense of ancestral territories. These struggles not only unify our continued cries for our self-determination and autonomy as Peoples, but join us umbilically through the atrocities that can be traced back to the trans-Atlantic slave trade. To recover what we lost may never be possible, but to defend what we have is but one key for our survival.
You, as the Garifuna communities, are an example to Black communities around the world in the defense of land and territories against a powerful array of forces. Through the combined use of culture, legal instruments, mobilization and alliances, you have fought back against the incursions of palm oil plantations, tourism megaprojects and drug trafficking. As you have defended your communities and lands, you have also fought for gender justice and used Black Indigenous culture to unite and maintain the struggle across the diaspora.
You are an inspiration to us all!
We send you continued courage and strength as you continue your struggles in Honduras. We stand firm in supporting your calls for justice.
Solidarity, love and unity across borders!
JASS Southern Africa