Monday, March 28, 2016

No Resting or Forgetting


Berta Cáceres, our sister compañera from COPINH, our ally in the effort to build an anti-patriarchal practice within our territorial struggles against capitalism and racism, the one we sought out to shape and build this network that links us as rights defenders and feminists, Berta our compita with her own unique expressions to describe danger level with dog metaphors, the one who backed down discouragement by saying no se agüite - “don’t give in,” Berta Cáceres the one who called upon us to re-found ourselves first, to live out a different kind of power starting with ourselves and our organizations and communities, a power different than the formal one we know, one that is like she was, against the system. All of those Bertas who are really one, who are us, now, we renew her commitment through the struggle of COPINH, sparking many actions through the National Network of Women Defending Human Rights in Honduras, part of the Platform for the Grassroots Social Movement of Honduras, PMSPH.

This past March 17th-18th the streets of Tegucigalpa filled with color, chants, spirituality, drums, and cries for justice during the “Berta Cáceres Vive” National Indigenous Peoples Mobilization. The Garífuna, Lenca, Pech, Tawaka, Miskito, Maya-Chortí, Tolupán peoples joined together and made their presence felt in front of numerous government offices, only a few of which even sent out a low-level official. We denounce that, rather than offering the answers they owe for illegal water and mining concessions, for impositions in violation of ILO Convention 169, they lashed out and claimed that we would be liable for the withdrawal of financial backing by international organizations. They refused to admit that it is their state policy of exterminating human rights defenders, youth and poor women that truly makes this country unsafe for those of us who live in it. That it is the fault of their own disgusting attempt to sell the country off to the highest bidder.

The heat of this concrete city gleamed on the faces of the peoples making the pilgrimage through its tree-less streets, past its public officials. “The trees and breeze are gone,” said Miriam Miranda,
a genuine leader of OFRANEH and PMSPH. “The trees and breeze are gone, but there are people resisting here, in this other recuperated territory,” were her provocative words at the National Autonomous University of Honduras where the indigenous peoples entered triumphantly as the national heroes that they are to applause, cries of emotion, memories of Berta on everyone’s minds, present as always and as never before, her face painted on the walls, on banners, in chants, on the bodies of the young women and men who understand that their studies should translate into a commitment to struggle.

Through these days of mobilization and continuing through March 20th we organized and received a visit from a high level International Delegation with participation of representatives from the European Parliament, from Argentina’s Plaza de Mayo mothers of the disappeared, from the Mexican congress, from Jubilee South, Diálogo 2000, Grito de los Excluidos, environmental networks and social movements for water and land, key figures from different struggles and opposition parties, making up a group of people who came together with the Honduran grassroots social movement to demand justice for Berta Cáceres. The International Delegation was not received by most of the governmental offices with which appointments had been requested from the Offices of the European Parliament in Brussels, the first expression of their lack of political will to discover the truth about the killing of our compañera.

The Delegation’s presence and its commitment to follow up on the demand for justice are extremely important. Their Preliminary Report clearly expresses concern about the serious lack of accountability, the lack of an independent judicial system, the lack of respect for international law displayed by the mega-project concessions and the lack of legal justification to place compañero Gustavo Castro in danger, to not treat him as a victim and witness in the case.

The National Network of Women Defending Human Rights in Honduras denounces the extreme vulnerability of leaders and community members of Río Blanco organized as part of COPINH, who, after the assassination of Berta Cáceres, were dispersed by the DESA corporation’s private security as they walked around the Agua Zarca dam facilities and were later stopped and stripped of their bus by police as they mobilized from their community to Tegucigalpa to participate in the National Mobilization of Indigenous Peoples.

We call upon our people in general, upon the grassroots social organizations, upon the peoples of the world in solidarity with struggles for defense of indigenous territorial stewardship, to participate in the action that will take place in Río Blanco, on the banks of the Gualcarque River, to carry out a spiritual ceremony in memory of Berta Cáceres on the 22nd Anniversary of COPINH’s founding, Sunday March 27th.

Let the sacred waters of the Gualcarque River continue to run, let people build territorial autonomy, let us defend the right to defend rights.

Tegucigalpa, March 22nd, 2016.
National Network of Women in Defense of Human Rights
tw: @redefensorashn
FB: Red Nacional de Defensoras de Derechos Humanos en Honduras

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