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20 June 2016

Honduran human rights defender recognised in Dublin ceremony

The Irish Times

Honduran human rights activist Ana Mirian Romero has been awarded the 2016 Front Line Defenders Award for nearly a decade’s work defending her community’s land rights and local environment.

Ms Romero, who has endured armed raids, physical assaults and death threats, travelled to Dublin this week with her four-month-old daughter Priscilla to accept the award in recognition of her work in the municipality of Santa Elena, La Paz in Honduras.

Ms Romero says her family has been repeatedly targeted by the police, the military and armed civilians since she began to fight against the installation of a hydroelectric dam in her community.

“We defend the river, the forests, and the pure air that we breathe,” said Ms Romero. “That is all we want – land, air and water that is not contaminated by the dams.


“The Honduran government has taken our land but we have struggled, we have fought back and we are taking it back. This prize will not invite complacency from me. I will not stop my fight. This is an encouragement for us to continue our struggle.”

Former president and United Nations high commissioner for human rights Mary Robinson, who presented Ms Romero with her award at a ceremony in City Hall in Dublin yesterday morning, commended her for her determination and perseverance.

“I know from my own work in climate justice that these are the human rights defenders most at risk . . . Those who are standing up to mining companies, those who are defending land rights are most at risk and need our protection and our understanding,” said Mrs Robinson.

“When Ana goes back to Honduras she will feel more protected because she’s had this international recognition because of the award and her country will be aware that she’s doing important work.”

The ceremony was opened by businessman Denis O’Brien, who sits on the Front Line Defenders board of trustees. The organisation was founded in Dublin in 2001 with the specific aim of protecting human rights defenders at risk. Its headquarters are in Dublin, and it has an EU office in Brussels, and regionally-based field staff in the Americas, Asia, Africa and the Middle East.