Crucial Moment to Support Human Rights Defenders and Justice for Berta in Honduras
More than 59,000 supporters of Amnesty Canada have raised their voices to demand justice in Honduras since beloved Indigenous rights defender Berta Caceres was gunned down in her home on March 2, 2016. The assassination was perpetrated less than a year after the leader of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) was awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her courageous work challenging the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam and its impact on the land and water so vital to the rights and survival of Lenca Indigenous communities. Berta had repeatedly denounced threats she said came from people working for Desarollos Energeticos SA (DESA), the company developing the dam project. The government failed to act to protect Berta.
The accumulation of calls for action from Canada and many other countries, together with the tireless efforts of Berta's family and COPINH in Honduras, have been impossible to ignore. Nine men were arrested and charged with involvement in the murder of Berta. The first trial of eight of the accused began on September 17.
On November 29, a verdict was delivered. A three-judge tribunal of the National Criminal Court convicted seven of the eight men of conspiring to murder Berta on orders from DESA, the company building the dam that Berta and her organization had sought to stop. Four of the men were also convicted of the attempted murder of Mexican environmentalist Gustavo Castro, who was visiting Berta when she was attacked and was also shot but survived by playing dead.
Berta's family and her organization COPINH say the convictions on November 29 are the first step in the search for justice. But they are crystal clear that the struggle for justice is far from over. “The structures and people who gave the money for these criminals to assassinate Berta Cáceres are still free and able to continue carrying out crimes like this one with impunity,” said Berta's youngest daughter Laura at a press conference following the verdict.
“The verdict of this trial offers only half the truth,” agreed Amnesty International’s Americas Director Erika Guevara-Rosas. “Failing to investigate & prosecute all the perpetrators who ordered & planned this atrocious crime means the Honduran state owes a huge debt to truth and justice.”
There is other cause for concern
There have been threats, attacks, surveillance and other troubling security incidents, together with a dangerous smear campaign of false accusations against COPINH by a international legal firm representing the company building the dam that Berta had opposed. This puts the legitimate human rights work and the safety of COPINH members at grave risk.
COPINH has reached out to request our solidarity at this dangerous moment.
Please raise your voice in support of justice and protection for defenders at risk!
1. WRITE A LETTER
Please write to the Ambassador of Honduras in Canada to signal that Canadians are watching what happens in Honduras and remain concerned. Please make your letter as personal by introducing who you are and where you are writing from. Then make the following points in your own words:
- Tell her that the conviction on November 29, 2018 of 7 men for conspiring to murder Berta Caceres on orders from DESA, the company building the dam that Berta opposed, is an important first step but that this alone is not enough to satisfy the rights of the victims to truth, justice and reparations.
- Call for guarantees that everyone behind the murder of Berta, including the masterminds who ordered and paid for the crime, are investigated, identified and prosecuted in fair trials that meet international standards of due process.
- Express concern about surveillance, unfounded and stigmatizing accusations, threats and attacks against members of COPINH which continue to take place. Call on the Honduran government to publicly recognize their legitimate work in defense of human rights, and guarantee protections, in accordance with the wishes of COPINH, to ensure they can carry out that work without fear of harm.
- Ask the Ambassador to share your concerns immediately with her government in Honduras.
Send your letter to:Her Excellency Sofía Lastenia Cerrato Rodríguez
Ambassador for Honduras
130 Albert Street, Suite 805
Ottawa, Ontario K1P 5G4
Fax: 1 (613) 232-0193
Be sure to send a copy of your letter to:Hon. Chrystia Freeland, Minister of Foreign Affairs
111 Wellington Street
Ottawa, Ontario K1A 0A6
Postage: None required
Fax: 1 (613) 996-9607
2. MAKE VISIBLE YOUR CONCERN ON SOCIAL MEDIA
COPINH has asked supporters to make visible your support at this vital moment. Create a handwritten sign and post a photo of yourself holding the sign on social media. Include a message that identifies that you are in Canada (since Honduran authorities care about their reputation abroad) and calls for justice for all those behind the killing of Berta Caceres, both the assassins and the masterminds. Please do NOT make accusations about who is guilty but call for full, impartial investigation and due process.
Be sure to use the hashtags #JusticiaParaBerta (Justice for Berta) and #CapturaALosAutoresIntelectuales (Arrest the Masterminds).
Include the following handles:
- @rarguetaCSJ (President of the Honduran Supreme Court of Justice)
- @MP_Honduras (Public Prosecutor of Honduras)
- @Presidencia_HN (Office of the President of Honduras)
- @cafreeland (Canada's Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland)
- @JKHillCDA (Canada's Ambassador to Honduras)
- @COPINHHONDURAS (Twitter); @copinh.intibuca (Facebook); @copinh Intibuca (Instagram)
- @AmnestyNow (so we can retweet your tweets)
In Canada, I stand with @COPINHHONDURAS & call for action to ensure that EVERYONE responsible for the murder of #BertaCaceres is brought to justice. #CapturaALosAutoresIntelectuales #JusticiaParaBerta @rarguetaCSJ @HondurasMp @Presidencia_HN @cafreeland @JKHillCDA @AmnestyNow pic.twitter.com/EITBlbssfI
— Kathy Price (@KPriceAmnesty) September 9, 2018
Seven accused finally found guilty of the murder of #BertaCaceres; four of them for the attempted murder of #GustavoCastro. In Canada, we're still waiting for the full truth. @MP_Honduras must identify & bring to justice ALL the masterminds #CapturaALosAutoresIntelectuales pic.twitter.com/fMwaczAjF9
— Kathy Price (@KPriceAmnesty) November 30, 2018
3. SIGN OUR PETITIONS
If you have not already, please sign our Justice for Berta online action here - and encourage others in your networks to do so too.
You can collect signatures on our print petition found here. Please send them in asap to the address on the right side.
4. LEARN MORE
>>> Follow campaigner Kathy Price @KPriceAmnesty on Twitter for updates.
>>> Read our on the spot report from Honduras Quest for Justice for Berta Takes a Dramatic New Turn
>>> Read our press release Honduras: Failure to identify those behind Berta Cáceres’ murder puts other activists at risk
>>> Read our research report “We are defending the land with our blood”
THANK YOU FOR TAKING ACTION FOR JUSTICE THAT WILL PROTECT OTHER HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDERS IN HONDURAS!