Monday, May 9, 2016

ALERT: COPINH members attacked and arrested while protesting outside presidential palace

Alert from National Network of Women Defending Human Rights and National Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras:

People arrested and wounded at COPINH protest, violently broken up in front of Presidential Palace

By Dina Meza (translation by Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle)

[Original en español]
Photo: Giorgi Trucci, LINyM

President Juan Orlando Hernández ordered the violent removal of about 150 members of the Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) at 5:40am this Monday, May 9th, 2016. Police and military police forces launched tear gas bombs as the protesters arrived peacefully at the Presidential Palace to demand answers regarding the assassination of their General Coordinator, Berta Cáceres.

Although the crime took place more than two months ago, so far the only people detained are four people accused of directly carrying out the crime, but COPINH, Berta's family and the national and international community are demanding action against those who presumably ordered the crime, including personnel of the hydroelectric company Desarrollos Energéticos, S.A, (DESA), politicians and businessmen.

Tomás Gómez, current COPINH coordinator, denounced that he and several of his fellow COPINH members were beaten by the police and that a large quantity of tear gas was launched, affecting boys, girls, seniors and other people who just came to demand justice.

"What we want is for both those who carried out and those who ordered the crime against our sister to be punished. One of the main guilty parties is [Honduran President] Juan Orlando Hernández. There are political and economic interests behind the crime committed against our sister Berta," said Gómez.

He added that there was a concentration of military reserve members in the Presidential Palace and when several COPINH members crossed the security lines and were close to the entrance of the presidential palace they were repressed.

"What we want is for Juan Orlando Hernádez to suspend all contracts that give the green light for indigenous people to be displaced from their lands."

Joining the protest was a sizable group of indigenous people from Santa Elena, La Paz, where the Congressional Vice President, Gladys Aurora López and her husband have at least two hydroelectric projects, including La Aurora and Los Encinos, which have produced deaths, threats and persecution.

Alert from the Network of Women Defending Human Rights
ALERT: Violent attack against women and men of COPINH

The National Network of Women Defending Human Rights in Honduras, put out the following alert about the new repression against COPINH:

Since the early morning more than 150 women and men from COPINH arrived at the Presidential Palace to continue their demands for justice and answers regarding the assassination of Berta Cáceres Flores, who was assassinated this past March 2nd for defending indigenous territory and fighting to expel the DESA company and stop its Agua Zarca project.

They were received with violence by the Honor Guard in front of the Presidential Palace, who launched tear gas bombs. So far reports indicate six people have been detained and numerous wounded.

We demand respect for the physical well-being of the human rights defenders and members of COPINH.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras
May 9th, 2016
National Network of Women Defending Human Rights in Honduras

Alert from Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH)
Alert: Peaceful protest by COPINH attacked in front of presidential palace

Today in the early morning, military from the presidential guard attacked a group of Lenca protesters who are COPINH members, leading to arrests and an ongoing state of threat.

COPINH came to demand justice over the death of its leader Berta Cáceres, assassinated this past March 3rd by members of the military and executives of the DESA company, which has been imposing the construction of a hydroelectric dam on the Gualcarque River, rejected for years by the Lenca population.

The assassination had enormous repercussions in the media, questioning the current dictatorial government headed by Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández. From the beginning, the management of the investigation was obstructed by the contamination of the crime scene and the theory related to a supposed crime of passion.

In recent days information came out about Berta's assassination being carried out as a premeditated crime by members of the armed forces led by the DESA corporation. Nonetheless, the authorities have yet to produce the people who ordered the crime, among whom probably figure bankers and politicians.

COPINH continues with its irrevocable demand to suspend construction along the Gualcarque River, in addition to demanding justice for its assassinated leader, who dedicated her life to working persistently in defense of the ancestral territories of indigenous peoples and their natural resources.

The collapse of the rule of law in Honduras, consolidated by the 2009 coup d'etat, permitted the approval of countless neoliberal laws intentionally detrimental to indigenous peoples and local communities. The approval of the Water Law in December, 2009, gave the state power to distribute hydrographic basins to families allied with the current dictatorship, a situation that was reinforced by decrees approved in 2010 regarding concessions of hydroelectric basins.

The lack of recognition of the right to prior, free and informed consent is one of the worlds problems affecting indigenous people in Honduras. Berta Cáceres was one of the champions of this cause, and the dam along the Gualcarque river became one of the symbols of this struggle.

We demand the immediate cessation of aggressions in front of the Presidential Palace and respect for the well-being of the protesters, the cancellation once and for all all dam projects in indigenous territories where proper consultation has not taken place, as well as a transparent prosecution against both the perpetrators and the plotters of Berta's homicide.

May 9th, 2016
Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras, OFRANEH


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