Urgent Action

Support COPINH Leaders: Berta, Tomás & Aureliano

Leaders of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH)—Berta Cáceres, Tomás Gómez Membreño, and Aureliano Molina—have been erroneously charged with illegal land seizure, coercion, and damages for organizing the Rio Blanco community to protect their ancestral territories from companies that have begun building a dam on Lenca land. Their safety depends on international attention. Please take a stand!

 

Background

Mirroring similar struggles in Guatemala and Mexico, the indigenous community is fighting for the removal of a hydroelectric power project from their land, asserting that the Honduran government failed to consult the Lenca community before granting permits to hydroelectric company, Desarrollos Energeticos S.A (DESA), violating the constitutional “right to consultation” as mandated by provision 169 of the ILO Convention. As the community continues to protest, military forces have been sent in to “protect” the hydroelectric plant, continuing the regional pattern of police and military used to protect private interests.

Activists like Berta, Tomás, and Aureliano are being targeted for their leadership in organizing the Lenca people to demand a say – their right by law – in the development and use of their land. Besides the two charges, Berta was facing an additional charge of illegal possession of a weapon "in contravention to the internal security,” which was temporarily dismissed by a judge due to lack of evidence but is currently being appealed by a federal prosecutor. On September 20, 2013 the presiding judge handed down a court order, calling for Berta to serve “preventative prison,” issuing an arrest warrant within hours; Tomas and Aureliano were given a form of house arrest status. The COPINH leaders will now face further persecution as the $44 million trial against them goes forward, led by the DESA Corporation and the Honduras Public Ministry. 

The government's goal is to decapitate the movement, putting Lenca leaders in jail so that the corporations can continue their extractions unimpeded,” writes Beverly Bell, Director of Other Worlds

Take a Stand & Show Your Support

Join JASS and our partner organizations as we mobilize in support of Berta, COPINH and her colleagues. Thursday, October 10th will be an International Day of Action to support indigenous peoples in Honduras who are defending their lands and rivers, and to challenge US-supported attacks on them by the Honduran government. 

Please consider taking ACTION on the following:

WOMEN DEFENDERS OF RIO GUALCARQUE: Donate to the National Women Human Rights Defenders who has launched a campaign to support and continue accompanying the Rio Blanco community, COPINH and its leaders. The National Network has set up a defense fund through JASS for Berta, Tomás and Aureliano and to support the Rio Blanco community continue their fight to protect their ancestral land. Listen to and share the radio segment Women Defenders’ Identity by La Red Radio (Spanish).

I defend this land because it’s ours; we live here and we will die here.”

Contribute to Honduras Solidarity Network's Legal Defense Fund: Honduras Solidarity Network (US) has also set up a legal defense fund for Berta Cáceres, Aureliano Molina and Tomás Gomez of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH).

Send a Message to US & Honduran Authorities

Defend Indigenous Rights & Stand Against the Imprisonment of Berta Caceres, COPINH: Sign a petition to Honduran President Porfirio Lobo and the Judge in the politicized trial, to retract the conviction of Berta, Tomás and Aureliano, stop the eviction of the blockade in Rio Blanco, cease construction of the illegal dam, Agua Zarca, respect ancestral lands and international conventions which protect Indigenous People, and end the repression and violence against the Rio Blanco community and COPINH. Rio Blanco Community Honduras

End the Militarization of Rio Blanco and Respect Indigenous Rights: Call on the US to end military aid to Honduras, ensure no US military aid is used to repress the Rio Blanco community, and ask the Honduran officials to end the judicial persecution of COPINH, withdraw the military from the Rio Blanco, and respect ILO Convention 169 on the rights of Indigenous Peoples. School of the Americas Watch (SOAW)

Drop bogus charges on human rights defender Berta Cáceres: Urge President Obama and Congress to use U.S. influence to press the Honduran government to drop the spurious charges. Amnesty International

Freedom for Honduran Indigenous Leader Berta Cáceres: Call for freedom for Berta Cáceres, an end to the criminalization of COPINH and other social movements, and withdrawal of the military and police from the Indigenous Lenca communities of Rio Blanco. School of the Americas Watch (SOAW)

Justice for Berta Cáceres: Let the Honduran authorities know that this violation of human rights is not acceptable. Friends of the Earth International

Thank you for the gestures of national and international solidarity, of the determined mobilization of COPINH, of sister organizations and progressive social and political forces that have added their weight to the struggle of COPINH. We condemn the decision of the Court, of Judge Lissien Lisseth Knight Reyes who followed the order of the DESA Corporation, knowing she was pressured to do so from above, that DESA controlled this resolution. This is the “justice” we have in Honduras.” Berta Cáceres

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JASS in Honduras

JASS Mesoamerica is currently coordinating the Mesoamerican Women Human Rights Defenders Initiative and co-coordinates the National Women Human Rights Defenders Network in Honduras. Our team in Mexico and Honduras have followed Berta’s case since its inception and continue to support and accompany her, COPINH and the Rio Blanco community as they seek justice. To support our work in Honduras, please consider making a donation to JASS Mesoamerica.

La Lucha de Berta Cáceres: Check out the latest Spanish video from JASS Mesoamerica, featuring interviews with Berta Caceres and actions of support as she faces dangerous persecution.

Thank you for your continued support of COPINH. Contact JASS if you would like to add an action of solidarity to this list. 

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