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Honduras: 1 year since Berta Cáceres’ murder – selected materials

March 2017 marks the first anniversary of the assassination of Berta Caceres, a Honduran human rights and environmental rights champion, awarded with the Goldman Prize. Berta defended the rights of the Lenca people that were affected by DESA hydroelectric project. This story gathers media articles, calls for justice, and features an interview BHRRC did with one of her daughters and COPINH member Laura Zúñiga.

This story also includes the latest response received from DESA on criticisms against them over their lawsuit against women's rights defender, Suyapa Martínez, for her pronouncements on the murder of Berta Cáceres (only available in Spanish).

2015_BertaCaceres_layout_Credit_JusticaparaBerta.

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Article
4 March 2017

To honor Berta Cáceres’ memory, carry on her struggle

Author: Sandra Cuffe, Upsidedown World (US)

...In Honduras, COPINH and other organizations coordinated a week of events to mark the anniversary. Indigenous community members from around the country came together for a workshop on free, prior and informed consultation and consent in Tegucigalpa, and led a march in the streets of the capital….The focus was on the broader issues and struggles for which Cáceres lived and died: autonomy, territory, justice, equality, collective rights, self-determination, and so much more. To continue the struggle is to honor her legacy, COPINH general coordinator Tomás Gómez told the crowd…The Agua Zarca dam project on the Gualcarque River is one such project, and it continues to face fierce community resistance from Río Blanco and from COPINH. It has received significant international media attention, particularly in light of suspected ties to Cáceres’ murder. It’s a very important and emblematic case, but it’s far from the only one, said Zúñiga Cáceres…“It’s not just Agua Zarca. Concessions for 49 projects have been granted just in Lenca areas, and we can’t forget that,” she said.

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Article
3 March 2017

Complaint against Centro de Estudios de la Mujer – Honduras

Author: Front Line Defenders

...On 28 February 2017, two days before the one-year anniversary of the killing of Berta Cáceres, Suyapa Martínez was notified that DESA had filed a lawsuit against CEM-H, based on declarations made by the human rights defender as a representative of the organization concerning the murder of Berta Cáceres. Suyapa Martínez publicly alleged that DESA was involved in the planning of the crime. On 2 May 2016, four men were arrested in connection with the murder of Berta Cáceres, two of whom have ties with DESA, the Honduran company that was building the Agua Zarca dam, a project Berta Cáceres had strongly opposed and campaigned against. In the complaint, the company requests indemnification for damages and losses to the amount of one million lempiras (approximately €40,400) for allegedly inaccurate and false declarations. The human rights defender is due to attend a court hearing at 10 am on 21 March 2017…[Refers to the case to Gladys Lanza Ochoa and Fundación para el Desarrollo de la Vivienda Social, Urbana y Rural]

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Article
2 March 2017

A Year Without Berta

Author: Moira Birss, NACLA (US)

…On the anniversary of her death, Gustavo reflects on progress in the investigation into Berta’s murder, noting the continued need for an independent commission of experts, led by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, to assure a fair and independent investigation of Berta’s assassination. That’s because, as Gustavo explains, any progress made thus far in the investigation is wholly inadequate when it comes to revealing and sanctioning the masterminds behind the crime….Gustavo also highlights the role of financial institutions in perpetuating continued violence and land grabbing in Honduras, and calls out the U.S. for contributing to a culture of impunity in Honduras, a point underscored by additional evidence uncovered by The Guardian this week that two of the men charged in the assassination received U.S. military training…Despite the ongoing impunity and continued killing of indigenous and environmental rights defenders in Honduras, Gustavo has not given up hope. In fact, he finds renewed hope in collective resistance, even in these very dark times…

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Article
2 March 2017

One year after her death, Berta Cáceres's voice lives on

Author: David, Kaimowitz, Director, Natural Resources and Climate Change, Ford Foundation

Women who protect rivers and forests make the world a better place. When someone attacks those women, we all suffer. It has now been a year since the courageous environmental activist and indigenous leader Berta Cáceres was murdered in Honduras, and those responsible still have not been brought to justice. Berta was just one of a dozen environmental defenders killed in Honduras last year; one of 123 killed since 2009…For Berta and many other Lencas, water, trees, soil, and seeds are not simply resources to be exploited for profit. They are the very essence of life, sacred elements of their culture…Canceling the Agua Zarca dam once and for all is also now more important than ever. Honduran law recognizes indigenous communities’ right to free, prior, and informed consent when it comes to such projects, but (as we see in this case) these rights have rarely been respected in practice. This has led to a vicious cycle of resistance, repression, and death. But until the Honduran government takes strong action to stop corruption and influence peddling in decisions about mining, energy, plantation, timber, tourism, and fisheries projects—and focuses on the public good—the broader problems that fueled this situation will remain unchanged…

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Article
2 March 2017

Honduras: At anniversary of Berta Caceres' murder, Global Witness reminds of systematic assault on those standing up to land-grabbing, polluting companies

Author: Global Witness

"7 more activists killed in year since Berta Caceres’ murder as Honduran government ramps up crackdown", 3 Mar 2017

In the year since Berta Cáceres was gunned down in her home, at least seven more land and environmental defenders have been killed in Honduras as the government ramps up its crackdown on activism, says Global Witness: “As we mark the one-year anniversary of Berta Cáceres’ murder, the situation is dire for those she worked alongside... Now the authorities are even branding protesters as terrorists. These are all clear signs of a systematic assault on government critics"... Berta Cáceres was one of over 120 Hondurans who have been killed since 2010 for standing up to companies that grab land and trash the environment, according to Global Witness’ recent report. This makes Honduras the deadliest country in the world to be an environmental defender... While the triggermen tend to be state forces, security guards or hired assassins, Global Witness investigations into who are behind these killings in Honduras revealed how top politicians and business elites are linked to the dams, mines and plantations at the heart of the violence. Those who order these murders are rarely, if ever, brought to justice.

Article
2 March 2017

Honduras: family says Berta Caceres was a threat to powerful business & government interests who wanted to silence her

Author: Katie Pisa, CNN

"Berta Cáceres' family seeks justice on anniversary of fearless activist's death", 3 Mar 2017

In one of the most dangerous countries in the world, one woman paid the ultimate price for her cause. One day before her 45th birthday on March 3, 2016, Berta Cáceres was shot dead in her home after years of threats to her life for her work as a fearless human rights activist...Awarded the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize in 2015, Cáceres was regarded as one of the world's leading grassroots environmental activists. Before [1980s], there was generally little tension with the Lencas because their lands had not been targeted for development projects... Cáceres had realized that despite indigenous rights being recognized by law, many indigenous groups lacked clear titles to their land and suffered land grabs by powerful business interests... "It was really hard for any corporation to push forward any project without having to deal with her...She was a threat. They (those in power) had a problem on their hands...She was clearly on the right side of the people and the law and there's no impunity in Honduras," he says."There was no other way to stop her ... she was an obvious problem."

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Article
2 March 2017

Honduras: One year after Berta Caceres' murder, demonstrators demand justice & for DESA's licence to be revoked

Author: Al Jazeera

"Protesters mark anniversary of Berta Caceres' murder", 2 March 2017

Hundreds of mostly indigenous Hondurans have taken to the streets to mark the first anniversary of the murder of environmentalist leader Berta Caceres. The crowd of about 600 people, which included workers, villagers, women and rights activists, gathered on Wednesday outside the Supreme Court to further the activist leader's campaign against a hydroelectric company...The demonstration was held nearly a year after the March 3, 2016 murder of Caceres, 45, at her home in the town of La Esperanza. Before her death, the activist had opposed plans by the company Desarrollos Energeticos to build a hydroelectric dam across a river on which indigenous communities were dependent. She had said she had received death threats from the firm. One of Wednesday's protest organisers, Tomas Gomez, of the Civic Council of Community and Indigenous Organizations, [said] the demonstrators were calling for the company's government licence to be revoked. A representative of the native Garifuna people, Miriam Miranda, said they also wanted the masterminds behind Caceres' killing to be punished. Eight people have been arrested in connection with the murder, among them an employee of Desarrollos Energeticos.

Article
27 February 2017

Honduras: 1 year after Berta Cáceres' killing, COPINH demands justice & blames government, companies & investors [in SP]

Author: COPINH

The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) issues a statement at the 1-year anniversary of the killing of their leader Berta Cáceres [only available in Spanish].

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