Jailed Indigenous Leader in Honduras Needs Your Support!
On Friday, September 20, a Honduran Court ordered that internationally respected Indigenous leader Berta Caceres, the Coordinator of the Lenca organization COPINH, be jailed. The court also ordered that Aureliano Molina and Tomas Gomez, also COPINH leaders, be subject to alternative measures to imprisonment and that all three of these leaders face trial for bogus charges aimed at silencing Indigenous resistance to the neoliberal privatization agenda being imposed by military force on Honduras.
Take action: Demand the bogus charges against Berta Caceres, Aureliano Molina, and Tomas Gomez be dropped!
The decision to jail Berta Caceres, a well-known social movement leader, is the latest escalation of an intense criminalization campaign by the Honduran government and the DESA corporation aimed at destroying the Lenca people's resistance to the pillaging of their natural resources for corporate profit. As Berta explains, in Honduras “it is clear that it is a crime to defend the rivers, defend water, and prevent common goods from falling into the hands of private companies.” Indeed, in post-coup Honduras, resources are being concessioned to private corporations at an astonishing rate, without any regard for the people who depend on the land, rivers, and water to survive. More and more communities are standing up against these concessions and being militarized, murdered, and criminalized.
Click here to send an e-mail to the US and Honduran authorities to call for freedom for Berta Caceres and respect for the rights of the Lenca people.
Since April 1, the Lenca people of Rio Blanco have blocked the construction of an illegal hydroelectric dam in their territory, after the dam company destroyed their crops and threatened their way of life.Since May 17, the US-funded Honduran military has occupied the area to protect DESA and Chinese company SINOHYDRO's corporate interests and threaten the Lenca population. SOA-graduate commanded military unit were waiting for Berta Caceres as she traveled to Rio Blanco, leading to her arrest on fabricated gun charges. On July 15, a member of the same military unit murdered Rio Blanco leader Tomas Garcia at close range in front of 200-300 people. Today, the military continues to occupy the zone, using DESA's installations essentially as a military base and the National Police are planning to build a police station in the Lenca community most strongly opposed to the project in order to continue the criminalization of their struggle for justice.
Victor Fernandez, the lawyer representing Berta Caceres, Aureliano Molina, and Tomas Gomez, who is himself now being criminalized, explains, “The whole government system in this case is at the service of the multi-nationals, in this instance DESA. There has been a decision at the highest levels to criminalize the Indigenous people's struggle... especially the leadership of COPINH.”
Contact the US and Honduran authorities and urge them to end the criminalization of COPINH and withdraw the military from Rio Blanco.
In Rio Blanco, where the Lenca communities are now on their 184th day of a roadblock to prevent the dam company from accessing the Gualcarque River, community leaders face death threats, violence, and military and police repression. Along with ordering Berta Caceres to be jailed, the judge also ordered the eviction of the Rio Blanco people's roadblock in their own territory.Nevertheless, they are not giving up. As Adelaida Sanchez Gomez, a mother and leader in the Rio Blanco struggle explains, “Our ancestors have left the land the land to us. And we take care of the land because we live from the land. There we harvest, there we eat. We, and our children, harvest and eat from the land.”
From November 22-24, 2013, we will gather at the gates of Fort Benning, home of the School of the Americas, which trained the Honduran soldiers who perpetrated the military coup, and who are now engaged in repression campaigns against the social movement in Honduras. Take a stand for justice!