Case History: Rosalio Vasquez Pineda
On 29 January 2016, unknown assailants carried out an arson attack at the home of human rights defenders Mr Rosalio Vasquez Pineda and his wife Ms Ana Mirian Romero.
Rosalio Vasquez Pineda and his wife Ana Mirian Romero are human rights defenders from the municipality of Santa Elena, in the department of La Paz. They are members of Movimiento Indígena Lenca de la Paz, Honduras – MILPAH (Lenca Indigenous Movement of La Paz, Honduras) and the Consejo Indígena San Isidro Labrador (San Isidro Labrador Indigenous Council). They have been fighting for the recognition of the land rights of indigenous communities since 2010, when MILPAH and the Consejo Indígena San Isidro Labrador filed an adjudication lawsuit for the recognition of their ancestral lands in the municipality.
On 29 January 2016, unknown assailants carried out an arson attack at the home of human rights defenders Ms Ana Mirian Romero and Mr Rosalio Vasquez Pineda. The arson attack took place when the family were away from their home, and the assailants have not been identified yet. Almost all of the family's belongings were destroyed in the attack. On 2 February 2016, a complaint concerning the incident was presented by the human rights defenders before the Public Ministry (Ministerio Público).
The attack on the home of the human rights defenders comes approximately two months after the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) issued precautionary measures in favour of Ana Mirian Romero, Rosalio Vasquez and their family, on 24 November 2015. The precautionary measures were also issued in favour of 12 other members of the Consejo Indígena San Isidro Labrador and MILPAH.
The human rights defenders had previously been subjected to acts of intimidation and assault. On 2 November 2015, unidentified men fired over fifteen shots outside their home. This incident occurred on the same day that Ana Mirian Romero was discharged from hospital following a previous attack, which took place on 22 October 2015. At approximately 4:30 am on the date, Ana Mirian Romero and Rosalio Vasquez Pineda's home was raided by police. A contingent of 30 officers entered their house using excessive force and without displaying a warrant. During the incident, the police officers beat Ana Mirian Romero, who was 24 weeks pregnant. She was subsequently taken to the hospital in a serious health condition and facing a possible abortion as a result of the attack.
The attacks on Ana Mirian Romero and Rosalio Vasquez Pineda have come in the context of intensifying risks faced by indigenous human rights defenders in the department of La Paz. On 20 December 2015, the body of Mr Javier Vásquez Benítez, the son of human rights defender and prominent indigenous leader Mr Gilberto Vásquez, was found in a ravine in Santa Elena. In May 2015, the body of human rights defender Mr Silvestre Manueles Gómez was found, dismembered, on the bank of the river Chinacla, on the border of the departments of Intibucá and La Paz. In January 2015, human rights defender and MILPAH member Mr Juan Francisco Martinez was killed.