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Honduran journalist Dina Meza faces danger to report on human rights abuses

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Photo by Peace Brigades International.

Dina Meza is a journalist in a country where it can be deadly to report on injustices.

At least 62 journalists have been killed in Honduras between 2006 and 2017, making it one of the most dangerous countries in the world for reporters.

Journalists are also regularly threatened when they report on vested interests.

For example, Nobel Peace Prize winner Jody Williams, who led a group of women that included Sarah Harmer and Tantoo Cardinal to Honduras in 2012, has written, "Our delegation met with women who have been impacted by the San Martin mine in the Siria Valley. The mine is owned by a subsidiary of Canadian Goldcorp. The women talked about how the mining operation has contaminated local water supplies."

Williams then highlighted, "A few days before we arrived in Honduras, Gilda Carolina Silvestrucci -- a local journalist who was talking to environmental activists about the problems with mining in the Siria Valley -- received threats against her life and those of her children."

And she noted, "A journalist in Santa Rosa de Copan, where the Canadian company Aura Minerals operates, also reported receiving threats for having reported on concerns over mining operations in the area."

It is in this context that Meza works.

IFEX has explained, “Meza's fight for justice was sparked in 1989, when her brother, a campaigner for agricultural rights, was abducted [by the military].”

The Guardian adds, "Victor Meza, who suffered terrible injuries in prison, was eventually released during a political amnesty in 1992, along with 17 fellow prisoners, thanks to a campaign by Meza and others."

Those who tortured Victor and inflicted life-altering injuries on him were never held accountable for their crimes. That experience informed Meza’s deep commitment to justice.

Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project highlights, "Committed to defending freedom of expression and information, Dina has spent years investigating and reporting on human rights violations across the country."

It adds, "She is currently the director of ASOPODEHU and the president of PEN Honduras, an organization that supports journalists at risk.”

ASOPODEHU (La Asociación por la Democracia y los Derechos Humanos/ The Association for Democracy and Human Rights) defends and promotes human rights.

Its mission (translated from Spanish) is "to accompany victims of violations of their fundamental human rights, with emphasis on vulnerable groups: journalists, social communicators, women, youth, indigenous people, blacks and the community of diversity sexual.”

And PEN, which stands for 'Poets, Essayists and Novelists,' "believes that the necessary advance of the world towards a more highly organized political and economic order renders a free criticism of governments, administrations and institutions imperative."

The Guardian has reported that in Honduras, "The organization has taken on cases of high-profile writers charged with defamation, and of students criminalized after protesting against reforms at their university."

Meza has also set up an online magazine, Pasos de Animal Grande (which translates as "steps of a big animal"), that documents human rights abuses in Honduras.

Meza explained the title of the magazine to The Guardian by noting, "There is a saying in Honduras. When you say you can feel the steps of a big animal, it means you can feel there’s going to be radical change."

Al Jazeera has reported, "[Meza] has repeatedly suffered threats of sexual violence and against her life, as well as surveillance and other forms of intimidation, such as unusual late-night phone calls."

Threats have also been made against her son and teenage daughters.

That article adds, "As a safety precaution, Meza often is flanked by a pair of international human rights observers provided by Peace Brigades International when she works in the field on investigations or reporting outside of the capital, Tegucigalpa."

PBI has provided protective accompaniment to Meza since May 2014.

Meza has commented, "I can do my work only thanks to the support of PBI. If it wasn’t for the accompaniment I get, it would be much more difficult to do my job."

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