Berta Caceres (COPINH) Murdered
March 3, 2016
Today at approximately midnight, Berta Caceres, the General Coordinator of Fund grantee Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras – COPINH), was murdered in her hometown of La Esperanza, Intibuca. At least two individuals broke down the door of the house where Berta was staying for the evening in the Residencial La Líbano, shot and killed her. COPINH is urgently responding to this tragedy.
Berta Caceres is one of the leading indigenous activists in Honduras. She spent her life fighting in defense of indigenous rights, particularly to land and natural resources. In 2015, Berta won the Goldman Prize and the Oscar Romero Award in recognition of her outstanding activism and leadership. Her death will have a profound impact on the many Lenca communities that she supported, COPINH, the Honduran social movement, and all who knew her.
Berta Caceres and COPINH have been accompanying various land struggles throughout western Honduras. In the last few weeks, violence and repression towards Berta, COPINH, and the communities they support, had escalated. In Rio Blanco on February 20, Berta, COPINH, and the community of Rio Blanco faced threats and repression as they carried out a peaceful action to protect the River Gualcarque against the construction of a hydroelectric dam by the internationally-financed Honduran company DESA. As a result of COPINH’s work supporting the Rio Blanco struggle, Berta had received countless threats against her life and was granted precautionary measures by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights. On February 25, another Lenca community supported by COPINH in Guise, Intibuca was violently evicted and destroyed.
The Fund for Global Human Rights demands a thorough and immediate investigation of the circumstances surrounding Berta’s death. Ana Paula Hernández, Program Officer for Latin America stated:
“It is imperative that the government of Honduras thoroughly and immediately investigate Berta’s murder, and bring those responsible to justice. This tragedy follows a pattern that has made Honduras one of the most dangerous places in the world for environmental justice and land rights activists.”