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Honduras

    March 20, 2017

    Take action to support water defenders under dangerous attack in Central America. 

    March 02, 2017

    By Kathy Price, Honduras Campaigner with Amnesty International Canada

    It is one year since beloved water defender Berta Cáceres was gunned down in Honduras and a vital moment for renewed action from Canada, amidst ongoing deadly violence in the Central American country.

    On March 2, 2016, shortly before midnight, assassins entered the home of inspirational Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres and shot her.

    It should never have been allowed to happen. Berta had warned that her name was on a hit list and reported dozens of death threats against her. They coincided with her efforts to stop construction of the Agua Zarca hydro electric project out of concern for its impacts on the water and lands of Indigenous communities.

    Recognizing the danger, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights called on Honduras to protect Berta. The call fell on deaf ears.

    February 27, 2017

    Released: Monday 27 February 2017, 00:01 GMT

    The scandalous lack of an effective investigation to find those responsible for ordering the brutal killing of Honduran environmental activist Berta Cáceres sends a terrifying message to the hundreds of people who dare to speak out against the powerful, said Amnesty International on the first anniversary of the killing on 2 March.

    “Berta’s tragic murder illustrates the woeful state of human rights in Honduras. The message is clear: if your human rights work disturbs those with power, you will be killed,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.  

    “The scandalously poor investigation into Berta’s murder, which has so far failed to identify those responsible for ordering her killing and the lack of an effective mechanism to protect witnesses and other human rights defenders, shows the Honduran authorities’ lack of interest in securing justice.

    February 03, 2017

    A toxic smear campaign has put #Honduras' human rights defenders at risk of physical attacks. Act to protect them: https://t.co/nPwn1gxK0D pic.twitter.com/Yg4H1ykl0w

    — Urgent Actions (@AmnestyUA) February 15, 2017

     

    International organization Global Witness, along with Honduran organizations MILPAH, COPINH and CEHPRODEC are facing a smear campaign against them for their work defending land, territory and environmental rights in the country. This increasing campaign puts them at risk of further harassment and physical attacks.

     

    October 20, 2016

    "No more murders of campesinos in the Aguán region" reads a banner held up during a 2012 march by members of the Unified Campesinos Movement of the Aguán Valley. (Photo: AFP as at www.commondreams.org)

     

    On 18 October, José Ángel Flores and Silmer Dionisio George of the Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguán were murdered. Both human rights defenders were shot dead after attending a meeting with several campesino (peasant farmer) people in La Confianza settlement, Bajo Aguán region, north-eastern Honduras.

     

    October 19, 2016

    The brutal murders of two land rights activists in Honduras last night are the latest tragedies in a seemingly unstoppable wave of deadly attacks turning Honduras into a no-go zone for human rights defenders, said Amnesty International.

    José Angel Flores, 64, President of the Movimiento Unificado Campesino, was shot dead by a group of unidentified men in the department of Colón, northern Honduras, in the afternoon of 18 October.

    Another community leader, Silmer Dionisio George, was also shot in the incident and died at a local hospital hours later.

    “Honduras has turned into a ‘no-go zone’ for anyone daring to campaign for the protection of the environment. How many more activists have to be brutally murdered before the authorities take effective action to protect them, or even be willing to talk about this crisis?” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    September 02, 2016

    By Erika Guevara-Rosas

    Chills ran down Tomás Gómez Membreño’s spine when he first heard about the brutal murder of his renowned friend and ally, the Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres, six months ago this week.

    A fellow environmental activist and second in command at the Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Tomás feared he would be next.

    Berta’s work was widely and globally acclaimed and had earned her international awards - if someone could violate the sanctuary of her home and shoot her dead, it was too frightening to contemplate what could happen to any of the country’s lesser-known human rights defenders.

    Tomás also knew the hopes to have a proper investigation and to ensure the crimes against human rights defenders would not be repeated again were slim, in a country where authorities rarely condone attacks on activists.

    Tragically, he has a point.

    Six months after two armed men walked into Berta’s home one evening and murdered her in cold blood, Honduras has become a no-go zone for anybody daring to protect natural resources such as land and water from powerful economic interests.

    August 31, 2016

    Released Thursday 1 September 2016, 10:00 Tegucigalpa (16:00 GMT)

    An insidious wave of threats, bogus charges, smear campaigns, attacks and killings of environmental and land activists in recent months has made Honduras and Guatemala the most dangerous countries on earth for those protecting natural resources, Amnesty International said in a new report six months after the brutal murder of Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres.

    We defend the land with our blood explores the increasing stigmatization, threats, attacks, killings and lack of justice faced by individuals and communities fighting to protect the environment from large-scale mining, logging and hydroelectrical projects.  

    “Defending human rights is one of the most dangerous professions in Latin America but daring to protect vital natural resources takes these risky jobs to a whole new, potentially lethal level,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International. 

    May 06, 2016

    By Josefina Salomón, News Writer at Amnesty International

    The armed men who burst into the house of Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres on 3 March had a simple plan: find her, kill her, and leave.

    What they didn’t expect, however, is for Gustavo Castro, a human rights activist working with Friends of the Earth Mexico and a close friend of Berta’s, to be in the next room.

    “I was working on a presentation when I heard a loud bang,” said Gustavo, who is now in Mexico. “I thought something had fallen, but when Berta screamed, ‘Who’s there?’, I knew it was bad, that it was the end.”

    When they heard him, one of the armed men rushed to Gustavo’s room. He pointed a gun at his face, shot him and ran.

    May 06, 2016

    By Josefina Salomon, News Writer at Amnesty International

    The armed men who burst into the house of Honduran Indigenous leader Berta Cáceres on 3 March had a simple plan: find her, kill her, and leave. 

    What they didn’t expect, however, is for Gustavo Castro, a human rights activist working with Friends of the Earth Mexico and a close friend of Berta’s, to be in the next room.

    “I was working on a presentation when I heard a loud bang,” said Gustavo, who is now in Mexico. “I thought something had fallen, but when Berta screamed, ‘Who’s there?’, I knew it was bad, that it was the end.”

    When they heard him, one of the armed men rushed to Gustavo’s room. He pointed a gun at his face, shot him and ran.

    “Everything happened so quickly, I didn’t have time to think,” said Gustavo. “When the hitman arrived, I covered my face. He was three metres away. I moved as he fired, and the bullet passed my ear. He thought he’d killed me. It’s a miracle I survived.”

    May 02, 2016

    The arrest of four suspects in the murder of human rights defender Berta Cáceres in Honduras raise a number of questions on how the investigation is being handled, said Amnesty International today after Berta’s relatives claimed authorities have kept them in the dark regarding any developments in the case.

    “The blatant lack of transparency in the investigation into Berta Cáceres’ tragic murder, including the fact that her family has been systematically kept in the dark regarding any developments and the refusal to question high ranking officials is putting the whole investigation in jeopardy,” said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas Director at Amnesty International.

    “Authorities must urgently inform Berta’s relatives of the steps they are taking to find those responsible and ensure no stone is left unturned in this quest for justice. Anything less will send the message that human rights defenders can be killed and nothing will be done about it.”

    Read more:

    Honduras: Deep failures in investigation into activist’s killing put many at risk (Press release, 8 March 2016)

    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.

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