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Peasants' rights spokesperson harassed by Honduran authorities

(C-Libre/IFEX) - 29 August 2012 - Vitalino Álvarez, a spokesperson for the Aguan Unified Peasants' Movement (Movimiento Unificado Campesino del Aguan, MUCA), denounced that he has been harassed by members of the police and the military for his activism on behalf of the villagers in Bajo Aguan. Álvarez made this statement as he was leaving the police station in the city of Tocoa, Colón department, where he had been detained.

"I am not going to flee this country that I love," he said. "Nor will I go into hiding. Since last Monday [20 August], state security forces have been after me. Even if they kill me, they will not achieve anything," Álvarez added.

According to the MUCA spokesperson, on 20 August he was in front of the Supreme Court in Tegucigalpa when some police officers struck him on the hands trying to break his camera. Álvarez had been taking photographs of the police assaulting his colleagues.

"The next day, a stone was thrown at me while I was filming an action in Tegucigalpa by some MUCA villagers, after the Supreme Court refused to receive us to discuss the land issue in the country and the conflict in the Aguan region," said Álvarez.

On 21 August, while he was on his way to the La Confianza cooperative, Álvarez was arrested and held for two days together with other colleagues in the Tocoa police station. Subsequently, on 26 August, "they made me get out from a taxi and asked for my identity card. I didn't have it with me. I was accused of being a foreigner and detained once again," he explained. "They seem to be doing this just to harass me, the truth is I'm already fed up but I'm not going to abandon those who are fighting for land rights."

Earlier this year, on 31 January, C-Libre had condemned the threats and harassment Álvarez was facing and had expressed concern about any potential risks to his safety.