Honduras activist Berta Cáceres murdered

Environment and human rights activist Berta Cáceres has been murdered.  Others are in danger.

Our condolences to her family, friends and all who worked alongside her.

Gustavo Castro, the Director of Friends of the Earth Mexico, was with Berta Cáceres when she was killed. He was wounded in the attack and is in danger in Honduras. The Honduran authorities have said he is not allowed to leave the country for 30 days.

Stop the attacks: petition

About Berta Cáceres

Berta Cáceres rallied her fellow indigenous Lenca people of Honduras and waged a grassroots campaign that successfully pressured the world’s largest dam builder to pull out of the Agua Zarca Dam.

In 2015 she won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her work.

This is a sad day for Honduras and the world

Jagoda Munic, chair of Friends of the Earth International

“Given the situation in Honduras, in which indigenous, environmental and human rights activists like Berta Cáceres are targeted by government and corporate security forces alike, international pressure is needed to bring the murderers to justice and protect those brave enough to speak out on behalf of their fellow citizens and the environment.”

Mining and dams in Honduras

Since the 2009 coup, Honduras has witnessed an explosive growth in environmentally destructive mega-projects that would displace indigenous communities.

Almost 30% of the country’s land is earmarked for mining concessions, creating a demand for cheap energy to power future mining operations.

To meet this need, the government approved hundreds of dam projects around the country, privatising rivers, land, and uprooting communities.

Among them was the Agua Zarca Dam, a joint project of Honduran company Desarrollos Energéticos SA (DESA) and Chinese state-owned Sinohydro, the world’s largest dam developer.

Agua Zarca, slated for construction on the sacred Gualcarque River, was pushed through without consulting the indigenous Lenca people - a violation of international treaties governing indigenous peoples’ rights.

The dam would cut off the supply of water, food and medicine for hundreds of Lenca people and violate their right to sustainably manage and live off their land

It’s not yet known who is behind Cáceres assassination, but as a indigenous, environmental and human rights activist she knew well the risks she faced.

What is COPINH?

In 1993, Cáceres co-founded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats to indigenous communities from illegal logging, fight for their territorial rights and improve their livelihoods.

The work of COPINH is still sorely needed. Honduras has been called, “the deadliest place for environmental activists”, and is a country where corruption is a major problem.

12 activists were killed in 2015 alone, according to a report by UK-based Global Witness - more per capita than any other country (a record Honduras has held for the past 5 years).

COPINH activists have received many death threats. Eight other members of COPINH have been killed since it was formed.

Friends of the Earth International has worked with Cáceres and COPINH.

Gustavo Castro, the Director of Friends of the Earth Mexico, was with Berta Cáceres when she was killed.  He was wounded in the attack and is in danger in Honduras. The Honduran authorities have said he is not allowed to leave the country for 30 days.

Stop the attacks: petition

This story was first published on 4 March 2016

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