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Honduras

    April 20, 2016

    By Kathy Price, AI Canada's Latin America campaigner

    It was a killing that could and should have been prevented.

    On numerous occasions, the renowned Lenca Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres had reported receiving death threats as she led David-against-Goliath efforts to stop a big dam project in Honduras that threatened Indigenous lands and rights.  

    The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights recognized the risks and called on the Honduran government to provide protection measures.

    Yet Berta was gunned down on March 3 in her home in La Esperanza, ironically Spanish for “hope”.

    The pain of losing such a vital, beloved leader was quickly followed by fear. Berta’s tireless efforts had won her the prestigious 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize.

     

    If someone as celebrated and well-connected as Berta could be murdered at will, then what about others less well-known?

     

    The answer came days later. Community leader Nelson García was shot in the face and killed as he returned from helping victims of a land eviction.

    March 08, 2016

    The catalogue of failures in the investigation into the death of a prominent Indigenous leader last week exposes the Honduran government’s absolute lack of willingness to protect human rights defenders in the country, said Amnesty International after a visit to the Central American country.

    “Authorities in Honduras are saying one thing and doing another. They have told us they are committed to finding those responsible for Berta Cáceres’ death yet they have failed to follow the most basic lines of investigation, including the fact that Berta had been receiving serious death threats related to her human rights work for a very long time,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “This shocking lack of action is sending the dangerous message that anyone can kill those who dare to confront the most powerful in society and get away with it. That authorities seem to be willing to trade lives for money.”

    March 03, 2016

    The brutal killing of a vocal indigenous leader in Honduras paints a terrifying picture of the dangers faced by human rights defenders and social activists in the country, said Amnesty International.

    Berta Cáceres, leader and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH), was shot dead in her home early this morning in the town of La Esperanza, in the province of Intibucá, west Honduras.

    “The cowardly killing of Berta is a tragedy that was waiting to happen. For years, she had been the victim of a sustained campaign of harassment and threats to stop her from defending the rights of indigenous communities,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Unless the authorities in Honduras take decisive action to find those responsible for this heinous crime and take measures to protect other activists like Berta, they will have blood on their hands. The government must bring those responsible for this crime to justice, and guarantee protection for her family and all members of COPINH.”

    November 05, 2013

    Presidential candidates in Honduras must promise to address the dire human rights crisis in the country if there is any chance of putting an end to the escalating levels of violence, insecurity and impunity, said Amnesty International ahead of elections on 24 November.

    The organization has written to all eight presidential candidates urging them to set out their commitment to human rights.

    “The human rights situation in Honduras is dire and the future of the country hangs in the balance,” said Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Americas Deputy Program Director.

    “These elections could mark a turning point, and the presidential candidates must commit to concrete changes to stop the widespread human rights abuses and violations perpetrated against the people of Honduras.”

    The letter to presidential candidates details the deep human rights crisis in Honduras, including the consistent killings, physical attacks and threats against human rights defenders.

    September 19, 2013

    Authorities in Honduras must drop spurious charges against three indigenous leaders who will receive a verdict in their trial tomorrow. There have been increasing attacks against human rights defenders in the country ahead of presidential elections in November, Amnesty International said.

    “Defending human rights in Honduras has become a life-threatening activity with Indigenous leaders protecting their peoples’ rights, being particularly vulnerable to attack,” said Nancy Tapias Torrado, Researcher on Human Rights Defenders in the Americas at Amnesty International. She met with the three leaders in May.

    Indigenous leaders Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina, have been charged with “usurpation, coercion and continued damages” for allegedly inciting others to commit these crimes. If they are imprisoned, Amnesty International will consider them prisoners of conscience.

    February 21, 2013

    Honduran authorities must urgently investigate the recent killing of Jose Trejo just five months after his brother, a prominent human rights lawyer, was also murdered, Amnesty International said today.

    José Trejo was shot dead by unknown men on Saturday, as he travelled on his motorbike in the outskirts of the city of Tocoa, in the north of the country. His brother Antonio, a prominent human rights activist, was shot dead by unknown gunmen in September 2012. No one has been brought to justice for Antonio’s killing.

    The day before he was shot dead, José Trejo had been in the Honduran capital Tegucigalpa, to meet with officials in an effort to ensure justice for his brother’s murder and visit media outlets to keep the spotlight on the case.

    “A thorough, independent and impartial investigation must urgently be carried out, with those responsible brought to justice,” said Esther Major, Researcher for Central America at Amnesty International. "The authorities must not stay silent in the face of this crime and commit to a policy of zero tolerance for attacks on human rights defenders."

    The murder of Honduran Indigenous activist Berta Cáceres on March 2, 2016 was both a tremendous loss and an important call to action around the world. 

    Join us in front of the Honduran Embassy in Ottawa at lunchtime on Wednesday June 15th at which time people around the world will be holding similar actions to demand justice for the murder of Berta Cáceres and the attempted murder of Mexican activist Gustavo Castro; justice and safety for Berta’s organization - the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) - that continues the difficult fight to defend Lenca territory from large-scale hydroelectric and mining projects; and justice for the Honduran people who have been living in a climate of violence, corruption and impunity since the 2009 military-backed coup.

    We will join with many others around the world to demand:

     

    Join us for an inspiring panel discussion with:

     

    Luis Fernando García Monroy

    Luis Fernando was shot and seriously injured in 2013 by security guards employed by Tahoe Resources, a Canadian company, at its mine in Santa Rosa, Guatemala. He went on to co-found JODVID (Jovenes en Defensa de la Vida - Youth in Defence of Life), an organization that uses the arts to communicate the importance of protecting the environment from the harms of large-scale industrial activities, including mining.

    Felipe Benítez

    Felipe is a Lenca agro ecologist in Honduras, member of the Lenca Indigenous Council of Gualinga and the coordinator of the Independent Indigenous Lenca Movement of La Paz (MILPAH). Felipe's nephew was killed and other members of MILPAH have suffered violent attacks in response to efforts to defend the right to decision-making about indigenous territory, as well as opposition to hydro-electric projects they believe will have a destructive impact.

    Félix Antonio Molina

    The courageous, celebrated, beloved Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was shot dead by gunmen who entered her home in La Esperanza (Spanish for hope), Honduras on March 3. Wounded in the gunfire was Gustavo Castro Soto, an environmental activist from Mexico who had come to work with Berta and the organization she led, the Council of Popular and Indigenous Peoples Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).

    It was a tragedy waiting to happen. Berta had repeatedly denounced aggression and death threats against her. They had increased as she campaigned against the construction of a hydroelectric dam project called Agua Zarca and the impact it would have on the territory of the Lenca Indigenous people. 

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