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

Monday, October 21, 2013

Magdalena Morales Court Hearing October 23rd

Magdalena (in blue shirt) and supporters

Take Action for Magdalena

October 22 - Action to Support Campesina Leader 
Magdalena Morales, Regional General Secretary of the CNTC in Progreso, Yoro was arrested on July 26th and charged with usurpation of property because of her leadership in the campesino movement in the Sula Valley. Magdalena and the CNTC support a land recuperation in Agua Blanco Sur near the town of Progreso in which campesinos are up against one of the biggest sugar companies in Honduras, Asunoza which is owned by the British corporation SAB-Miller. Magdalena is also charged with inciting protest and inciting the land occupation by the campesinos as well as with "destruction of property" in which the company claims that 200 million Lempiras worth of damage was done - without presenting evidence of damage.  She is being charged because she is a leader in the CNTC. Her  hearing is scheduled for October 23th. Meanwhile she is prohibited from visiting the campesinos at Asunoza and she and the campesinos of the organizations in Yoro are under constant threats and harassment. Organizations in Honduras are calling for a protest in support of Magdalena at the Honduran Supreme Court in Tegucigalpa on October 23.

Magdalena's case is one of several blatant attacks on the social justice movements in Honduras in which leaders of organizations have been charged, detained, or threatened with judicial action with the obvious goal of destroying the organizations and movements. These attacks include the prosecutions of leaders of COPINH (see the sidebar and other recent blog entries) and  leaders of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ) Victor and Martin Fernandez, activists in the anti-mining struggles in the provinces of Yoro and Atlantida.   READ MORE about Magdalena's Case
(thank you to Greg McCain and Briggite Gynther for their information and photos)

UPDATE - Justice for José Isabel Morales "Chabelo"
The campesino political prisoner Chabelo Morales has been unjustly imprisoned for 5 years.
International support contributed to a hearing being held on September 13th by the Supreme Court. His family, lawyers and supporters traveled to Tegucigalpa for the hearing thinking that the Court would make a decision on the appeal filed by his lawyers. Unfortunnately, it seems to have been a symbolic hearing in response to the international outcry not a decisional hearing. The judge only stated that the Supreme Court would be hearing the case sometime soon. It is extremely important that we continue to insist on Chabelo's freedom and on his case moving forward in the system.  Action for Chabelo

Monday, October 14, 2013

Legal Defense Fund for COPINH Leaders

The Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) has started a legal defense fund to help with legal expenses for the COPINH leaders. 
To contribute to their legal defense go to:  and when the page prompts you for "Cause" check COPINH Legal Defense Fund. You can also send checks to Alliance for GLobal Justice, 225 E. 26th Street, Ste.1, Tucson, AZ 85713 with "Copinh Legal Defense Fund" written on the memo line. 100% of your contribution will be forwarded to COPINH for legal expenses.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Global day of action, new report denounce persecution & human rights violations by U.S.-funded Honduran army and courts against indigenous leaders of COPINH

10/10: International day of solidarity w/ indigenous leaders facing attack!
10/10: ¡Día de solidaridad internacional con líderes indígenas¡

Chicago event: 
Picket Thurs 10/10 - 12:30pm at Honduran Consulate 4439 W. Fullerton Ave.

Also please see other ways to take action

NEW REPORT by Rights Action / Nuevo informe:
Dowload in English / Descarga en español
Read to find find out why three indigenous leaders are facing charges and two facing imminent arrest for non-violent defense of land rights and natural resources in Río Blanco.

Lenca communities in the Rio Blanco region of Intibuca, organized in COPINH, the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, have submitted five formal complaints to the Public Prosecutors office since 2010 for acts of abuse of authority and the stealing of land by Honduran government officials and the dam builders, the DESA and SINOHYDRO corporations.  While no investigations have advanced, communities opposing the dam have come under increasing violence, including a murder on June 15 by the military.

Most recently, internationally recognized COPINH leaders defending the communities land rights have been charged with “inciting” a road block by communities.  While the only evidence presented simply showed that the human rights defenders believed the communities had more valid land rights than the company, the charges were quickly prosecuted and Berta Caceres has been ordered to await trial in jail.  It is suspected that Aureliano Molina will receive a similar order on Monday, October 7.

These trumped up charges were initiated within days of newspaper reports that US Ambassador to Honduras, Lisa Kubiske, urged Honduran authorities to prosecute those who promote land “invasions.”   Evidence shows that if Honduran law and ratified international conventions were enforced, the dam builders would be the ones prosecuted.
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