On 5 June 2005, indigenous community leader Feliciano Pineda was attacked and seriously injured by four men wielding machetes who are believed to be linked to a local powerful landowning family. The attackers also threatened to kill Mr. Pineda’s wife. Mr. Pineda was taken to hospital, but subsequently arrested on charges that Amnesty International believes are fabricated. He was imprisoned and did not receive his prescribed medical attention; his wounds became reportedly seriously infected and he was unable to eat. Several suspects were apprehended in relation to the attack but were later released on bail.
Feliciano Pineda is an activist leader in the Vertientes community, one of two groups that make up the Montaña Verde communities in the Gracias Municipality, Lempira Department. Since 1997, land-claim conflicts have erupted in Montaña Verde between various local indigenous communities and powerful landowners in the area.
Numerous community leaders and members of indigenous organizations have been threatened and intimidated by individuals linked to landowners in the Gracias region. Mr. Pineda is the fifth Montaña Verde community leader to be detained since the start of the dispute. He has been charged with “theft”, “damage to property”, “manslaughter” and “murder”. In December 2003, fellow indigenous activists Marcelino and Leonardo Miranda were sentenced to 25 years in prison on what Amnesty International dubbed ‘spurious’ murder charges and have reportedly been tortured (see previous LRWC campaign).
LRWC sent a letter of concern on 22 June 2005, written by Monique Pongracic-Speier to the Honduran Minister of Security, the Attorney General, and President of the Supreme Court, LRWC reminded these senior authorities of Honduras’ human rights obligations under the American Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, both of which have been ratified by Honduras. Copies were sent to Honduran human rights organizations, the Special Prosecutor for Ethnic Affairs, and the Ambassador of Honduras to Canada.