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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 9, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 02
AIDS activist abducted in Honduras
Section One
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AIDS activist abducted in Honduras

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer A prominent Honduran AIDS activist was reported abducted on January 6, and her fate remains unknown.

According to witnesses, Keren Dunaway Gonzalez was seized by three gunmen in a parked car.

Dunaway runs an organization called Llaves, which publishes a magazine for HIV-positive children. Now 18, she first came to the world's attention at the 2008 International AIDS Conference in Mexico City, where she spoke movingly about her experience as an HIV-positive child.

Her family appealed for her release through a spokesperson.

'The Dunaway family is appealing for Keren to be freed because she must take her anti-retroviral medication,' the spokesperson said.

Honduras is the epicenter of the AIDS epidemic in Central America, with an estimated 60% of the HIV/AIDS cases in the region.

It is also one of the most violent countries in the world, according to the UN Office for Drugs and Crime, with more than 80 murders per 100,000 inhabitants.

In December 2009 Gay activist Walter Trochez was murdered by still unidentified assailants in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa. Trochez was known to be a supporter of leftist President Manuel Zelaya, who had been overthrown in a right-wing coup only six months prior to the murder.

In addition to working to restore Zelaya to office, Trochez was documenting anti-LGBT hate crimes in Honduras. Shortly before his own death, he reported that since the June 2009 coup that deposed Zelaya, 'nine transexual and gay friends were violently killed, six in San Pedro Sula and three in Tegucigalpa.'

While Honduran officials blame narco traffickers for much of the country's violence, activists say the police are implicated in many murders, especially those targeting activists and the LGBT community.

In 2011, an incident - now infamous in Honduras - led to a purge of top police commanders.

Two students, Alejandro Vargas and Carlos Pineda, were found shot to death in a ravine outside Tegucigalpa. Police initially suggested that the victims had been involved in gang activity, but private security videos uncovered later showed a police vehicle following the victims' car and the DNA of one student was discovered on another police vehicle.

Forensic studies suggested the police shot at their car, wounding Vargas. When the students pulled over, the police killed both men and then dumped their bodies.

Honduran President Porfirio Lobo was forced to fire his top police commanders and disband the unit accused of the murders. No one was formally charged with the murders, however, and most of the officers involved were reassigned to new areas.

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