Wednesday, June 15th 2016 marks the global day of action calling for justice for Berta Cáceres, an indigenous Lenca woman and environmental justice and indigenous land rights leader in Honduras who was assassinated earlier this year.
Her organisation, COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras), called for this global day of action where people all over the world will be holding demonstrations and protests at Honduran consulates and embassies. Grassroots Global Justice Alliance (GGJ) and the World March of Women-US chapter (WMW) will be leading demonstrations in New York City, Los Angeles and Albuquerque, denouncing the role of the US State Department in creating the conditions for Berta’s murder by supporting the current Honduran government.
Berta was murdered on March 3, 2016, gunned down in her own home, because of her fearless and tireless work against the repressive Honduran state, whose military receives significant financial support from the U.S, and the extractive and hydroelectric industries destroying her ancestral land and waters.
Over 20 years ago, she co-founded COPINH, a grassroots organisation of workers, women, Indigenous people and farmers. Cáceres was leading the successful campaign to defeat one of Central America’s biggest hydropower projects, the Agua Zarca Dam in the Gualcarque River basin. Three of the five men arrested in connection with Cáceres’ assassination work for either the DESA Corporation, the dam builders, or the Honduran military that has been guilty of beating and harassing Cáceres and other indigenous and environmental activists.
Several other COPINH activists have also been killed for their resistance against Agua Zarca Dam. DESA, the Honduran military and the US government are all implicated in these assassinations. Since Cáceres’ death, the repression and harassment and targeting of human rights defenders is said to have increased, and her family is calling for an independent and transparent investigation into her murder.
GGJ and the WMW-US Chapter stand in solidarity with the family of Berta Cáceres and COPINH in their calls for #JusticeforBerta. GGJ and the WMW-US Chapter demand that the US State Department put pressure on the Honduran government to allow for an independent investigation into the murder of Berta Cáceres, led by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and call for the termination of US military training and aid to Honduras and the immediate and definitive stop to the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam.
“From June 15th to the RNC and DNC in July, we will continue with our message of an immediate end to US military aid and training to Honduras. The US government must stop spending public resources to kill indigenous, environmental, human rights and LGBTQ activists and to harm poor and working communities, and instead deal with the tragic and senseless violence in our own country and serious societal problems, including failing schools, racial and gender injustice and increasing economic inequality,” says Helena Wong, National Organiser with GGJ and the WMW-US Chapter coordinator.
“In this elections period, it is imperative that US elected officials respond to the direct and negative impact that US foreign policy has on frontline communities all over the world, causing recurring harm, like in the case of thousands of Central American children fleeing their countries only to be deported back to US-backed violence,” the GGJ was quoted as saying in a statement.