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Honduras: Second member of indigenous group murdered within 2 weeks, Dutch development bank suspends activity

“I cannot freely walk on my territory or swim in the sacred river and I am separated from my children because of the threats. I cannot live in peace, I am always thinking about being killed or kidnapped. But I refuse to go into exile. I am a human rights fighter and I will not give up this fight.” 

Berta Cáceres in a 2013 interview with the Guardian

Photo credit: Goldman Environmental Prize

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre reached out to the companies and funders reportedly involved in the Agua Zarca project for statements on the assassination and on the safety & security of community members and others advocating on the project. We will indicate below any statements we receive.

Entities reportedly involved in financing Agua Zarca dam project:

Companies reportedly involved in project development & implementation:

Note: Sinohydro, a Chinese state-owned hydropower engineering & construction company, cited conflicts between the company (DESA) and local communities for leaving the project in 2013. See statement here. The Intl. Finance Corporation has also been allegedly linked to the project, but it denied its involvement.

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4 March 2016

Murder of high-profile indigenous leader Berta Cáceres must trigger urgent investigation in Honduras

Author: Global Witness

Global Witness is calling on the Honduran government to launch an immediate investigation into the killing of Berta Cáceres, a high-profile activist who campaigned for the defence of indigenous land rights…In Cáceres’ acceptance speech at the Goldman Environmental Prize ceremony she remarked on the situation facing her community, saying, “They follow me and threaten to kidnap and kill me. They threaten my family. This is what we have to face.”…Honduras’ obligation under international law demands that indigenous people are consulted on projects that affect their land. This has been ignored by the dam owners, the Honduran company DESA. The project is also partly financed by the Dutch development bank FMO…

Read the full post here

4 March 2016

Letter to President Hernandez of Honduras

Author: 50 NGOs incl. Global Witness, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre, Front Line Defenders, Goldman Environmental Prize, Greenpeace Intl.

We...write to express our shock and concern over the recent killing of Berta Cáceres...

We demand an independent international investigation into the circumstances around Mrs Cáceres’ death, and guaranteed protection for her family and colleagues. Mrs Cáceres was granted emergency protection measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights...but she claimed the Honduran state did not fully implement them.

We also demand urgent action to protect Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican activist who witnessed her assassination, and to ensure his safe passage back to Mexico.

Mrs Cáceres’ case is the most high-profile killing within a growing trend in the murder, violence and intimidation of people defending their indigenous land rights in Honduras.

The 50+ international organisations listed below call on the Honduran state to ensure indigenous peoples’ right to their land is respected and that they are able to carry out their legitimate work without fear for their safety.

Download the full document here

3 March 2016

Press statement by COPINH (National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras

Author: COPINH (Honduras)

It is with the most profound and sincere pain that we share information of the vile assassination of…Berta Cáceres, founder of COPINH…Today we mourn her death, as well as the deaths of the other comrades who have died in defense of the Gualcarque River and the territory of the Lenca people…We know very well who murdered her.  We know it was DESA and the Hydroelectric project Agua Zarca, financed by the Dutch Development Bank (FMO), the Finnish Fund for Industrial Cooperation Ltd. FINNFUND, the Central American Bank for Economic Integration (BCIE), the German corporations Siemens and VoithHydro, the company CASTOR (Castillo Torres) Constructora Cerros de Comayagua, the Honduran bank FICOHSA…

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3 March 2016

Honduras: Berta Caceres, human rights defender & indigenous leader who opposed Agua Zarca dam, assassinated

Author: TeleSurTV.net

“Honduras Indigenous Leader Berta Caceres Assassinated in Home” 3 Mar 2016

Berta Caceres, the coordinator and co-founder of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras… was killed by unknown assailants early Thursday morning…Caceres was leader of the Lenca Indigenous community and was a staunch human rights defender...Caceres was a key leader in a Lenca struggle against the Agua Zarca Dam, a controversial development project…that was put in motion without consent from local communities. She, along with other residents, led a successful campaign to halt the construction of the dam, but the community has continued to face systematic harassment…. [The] human rights situation in Honduras has deteriorated gravely and human rights defenders and social movements have been systematically criminalized…According to Global Witness, Honduras is one of the most dangerous and deadly places in the world for land and environmental rights defenders… 



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