The death of two prominent environmental activists in Honduras has caused an international uproar, with a representative from the United Nations calling the country to investigate the murders and the possible cause.

Aly Dominguez and Jairo Bonilla were killed on Saturday by unidentified men in the village of Guapinol. While the police have attributed it to a robbery, many believe that it was a murder due to their environmental crusade against an open-pit mine in the area, according to Al Jazeera.

Dominguez and Bonilla worked daytime jobs collecting service payments for a cable company in the region, which police claimed was the reason for the robbery. But groups like Guapinol Resiste have disputed this claim, saying that they were killed for their opposition to the local mine.

“It was not a robbery. They were killed for defending the rivers from illegal mining. Justice for Aly and Jairo,” they said.

The two were co-founders of the Municipal Committee for the Defense of Common and Public Goods, and journalist Jared Olson said that they were beloved in the local community for their protests against the open-pit mine, WBUR reported.

The open-pit iron oxide mine has been called an “illegal” concession for the business of influential businessman Lenir Perez, something which Inversiones Los Pinares, the company that operates the mines, denied. Olson characterized the two as apolitical until the mine started its operation.

“[When] they started finally seeing the construction equipment going up, when they and everyone else started seeing the river turn to chocolateada (become chocolatized), they were like, ‘we have to protest,’” he said.

The U.S. ambassador was said to have condemned the killings of the two activists, and the United Nations special rapporteur on the situation of human rights defenders Mary Lawlor has called for an investigation into the deaths of the two.

“It’s vital that an independent investigation is carried out into the killing of the two defenders in Guapinol, Honduras,” she said. “Which must take into account the possibility that they have been retaliated against for their work defending human rights.”

Olson said that many locals are “cynical” as to whether anything will come out of the case, pointing to the robbery story that the government has already adopted for the killings as the cause as well as the people from the government handling the case.

“[Many] people are feeling a little bit cynical because the same prosecutor who oversaw what many called the arbitrary imprisonment of the 33 and then the eight water defenders after 2018 has now been charged with investigating this case,” he said.

Honduras Activists' Death Rep. Pic
The killing of two local environmental activists in Honduras on Sunday has experienced fierce condemnation internationally, with a U.N. representative calling for the investigation of the deaths. This is a representational image. Kalea Morgan/Unsplash.

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