Thursday, October 31, 2013

Court of Appeals to issue decision on appeal of persecuted indigenous leaders any day

Declaration and update from COPINH regarding persecution of Lenca indigenous leaders

Versión original en español: Declaración del COPINH sobre persecución de dirigentes indígenas Lencas

Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of honduras
Barrio Las Delicias, Frente la Llantera Lempira, Intibucá, Intibucá Honduras. CA FB Copinh Intibuca;  Web:;
 Twitter: @copinhhonduras

Urgent call for solidarity

Sisters and brothers, partners and friends:

The General Coordination of COPINH is calling out to the grassroots of our organization, progressive social and political forces, the resistance in general, national and international human rights organizations, those in solidarity and the media.

Indigenous Lenca members of Río Blanco communities and
COPINH, including the falsely accused Berta Cáceres
We want to inform you of the situation stemming from the political persecution our organization has been subjected to, expressed in the vicious racism of Honduran courts faithfully following the instructions of private enterprise, particularly in the cases of sister Bertha Isabel Cáceres Flores, General Coordinator, brother Aureliano Molina Villanueva and brother Tomas Gómez Membreño, indigenous spokespeople and members of the grassroots and the executive commission, persecuted for the struggle that COPINH continues to wage in defense of the collective and individual rights of the communities of Río Blanco, nature’s communal goods, against the privatization of the Gualcarque River and for the rights of the Lenca people in general. We communicate the following:

1.-  That the case file for the accusations of damages, conspiracy and usurpation presented by the DESA company against our sister and brothers HAS NOW PASSED TO THE APPEALS COURT OF COMAYAGUA, which under the law has a 5 day window to respond to the appeal filed by the COPINH legal defense team. As a reminder, it was in this case that Judge Lissien Lisseth Knigth issued a resolution ordering prison for sister Bertha Cáceres and probationary measures for Tomas  Gómez and Aureliano Molina consisting of signing a reporting book at the court every 15 days and prohibiting them from visiting the places of the supposed actions referred to in the unfounded accusations of the Attorney General, represented by the prosecutor Henrry Alexander Pineda  and private attorneys headed by the lawyer Juan Carlos Sánchez Cantiyano;

2.- That at the request and pleasure of the DESA company, on October 3rd Judge Lissien Lisseth Knigth modified the probationary measures in the case of brother Aureliano Molina, adding to the existing measures the prohibition to even visit neighboring communities, which is not only unconstitutional but absurd in prohibiting a Lenca to travel through his own ancestral lands;

3.- That in the case of the legal set-up perpetrated against sister Berta Cáceres accusing her of “illegal possession of arms threatening the internal security of the State of Honduras” by the Army, Attorney General and Federal Prosecutor of the Republic, the Appeals Court of Santa Barbará is giving total privilege and credibility to the testimonies of the soldiers of the Engineers Battalion (Batallón de Ingenieros). Furthermore, there has not been due diligence, nor has it been allowed, to determine who are the true owners of the weapon planted in the COPINH vehicle, which is being used against our sister without proof, registration documents, or expert reports, thus legitimating the Army’s illegality in order to further criminalize the struggle of COPINH and the Indigenous Peoples. The manipulation of justifications used against sister Bertha Cáceres speaks to the bad faith and the vicious and patriarchal racism of a judiciary that is at the service of colonial companies;

Military patrolling Río Blanco in unmarked company truck
4.- Because of all of this, we demand that the Appeals Court of Comayagua and the judicial system in general:
  • Follow the law, including indigenous law, assuring the right to justice, truth, respect for the territory, culture and spirituality of the Lenca people and the full and effective application of ILO Convention 169.
  • Stop portraying as victims the true invaders, usurpers and manipulators of territory, communal resources and the very life of the Lenca People. In this case that is the DESA company, which has caused historic and irreparable damage such as the killing of brother Tomas García at the hands of the Honduran army acting as the company’s mercenaries, a killing that has yet to be punished; and it has sewed insecurity in our communities, seeking to divide them, and threatening them with both military presence and hired killers.
  • Overturn the decision of the First Court of Letters of Intibucá with regards to these accusations, which issued the order to impose prison on Bertha Cáceres and probationary measures on Aureliano Molina and Tomas Gómez Membreño. We also demand that the absurd judicial order for the displacement of the communities of Río Blanco be revoked.
  • Bring to justice those who are using their positions of power to negate the existence of the Lenca people, descendents or the original peoples of this land, such as the Adjunct Prosecutor Lawyer Rigoberto Cuellar, ex-Minister of SERNA (Secretary of Natural Resources and the Environment)


With the ancestral strength of Icelaca, Lempira, Mota and Etempica we raise our voices full of life, justice, liberty, dignity and peace!

Enough criminalization of COPINH, enough criminalization of the right to defend the rivers, territories, ancestral cultures and lives!

Río Blanco is NOT a military station, no more police and army occupation!
Intibucá, October 21st, 2013

Representative of DESA company with police and military speaks to La Voz
de los de Abajo human rights delegation outside plan for Agua Zarca dam

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