Monday, May 9, 2016

COPINH responds to arrests in case of Berta Cáceres's assassination

COPINH COMMUNIQUÉ  - May 3rd, 2016

[Original en español]

The Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), after a calm assessment of yesterday's events, expresses the following to the national and international community:

1. Yesterday, the Honduran government carried out the so-called "Operation Jaguar," arresting four people that are said to be responsible for participating in the planning and carrying out of our sister and COPINH's General Coordinator, Berta Cáceres.

2. While we confirm that those captured coincide with part of the list of suspects that we maintain as COPINH, we do not trust that this investigation has been as exhaustive or deep as possible, that all appropriate measures have been taken, nor that it includes all of the people responsible for conspiring, planning and executing the assassination.

3. Despite the announcement that three more people are also facing charges, due to the Attorney General's office controlling and silencing communication with COPINH - a victim with the right under Honduran law to participate in the investigative process - this conduct does not leave us with faith that all due diligences and necessary detentions have been done in order to reach the conspirators and high level plotters and perpetrators.

4. This is why, now more than ever, the government should fulfill COPINH and Berta's family's demand for the installation of a commission of experts in this type of crime, led by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), which the IACHR has expressed its willingness to participate in under the conditions that have been requested.

5. The government hasn't shown any interest in facilitating and approving an agreement to bring in an commission of experts, which we as COPINH have been demanding since the assassination of our sister and comrade BERTA. This is worrisome because of how fragile the judicial system is, meaning any act of incompetence, inefficiency, collusion and corruption could compromise this process. This is why we want a commission of experts to guarantee the professionalism, objectivity, non-discrimination and proactive participation of COPINH in the investigation. In addition, it generates the unquestionable confidence needed to reach truth, justice, reparation, and the assurance that this will not happen again - never again. This is why we urgently demand that COPINH be given all relevant and available information directly and in a climate of respect for the right to information that we have as victims, since after two months passing since this vile assassination, there has not been even the most minute information communicated directly to us as COPINH's coordinators, nor to the daughters and son of our sister Berta.

6. Finally, beyond what we have pointed out, yesterday's arrests and the Attorney General's statement confirm the participation of the company Desarrollos Energéticos S.A. de C.V. (DESA), using capital from powerful economic interests both nationally and internationally (such as the Central American Bank for Economic Integration CABEI, the Dutch bank FMO, the Finnish bank FinFund, as well as the FICOHSA bank and the Atala family), in the assassinatino of our sister Berta Cáceres. This points to the need to extend the investigation into the link between the DESA corporation and its financial associates with other assassinations committed against active members of the opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, including: (1) Tomás García, (2) William Jacobo Rodríguez, (3) his brother Maycol Rodríguez, a child whose right to life was snatched from him at 15 years of age, and (4)Baudilio Sánchez.

There have been five assassinations committed against people opposing DESA and the construction of the Agua Zarca project. The investigation should be extended to include these assassinations, denounced by Berta and COPINH at the time, including other criminal actions such as attempted murders, wounds, abuses and persecution by the company and the state authorities who back them, repression, biased judicial persecution and criminalization against COPINH and the communities adjacent to and affected by the project.

It is for these reasons that we at COPINH demand the immediate and definitive cancellation of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, which is a project of death that should be expelled from the Rio Blanco Lenca indigenous territory and surrounding inhabited area, since it puts the lives of our sisters and brothers who have opposed it (and continue to oppose it) and resisted its construction with everything they have.


Intibucá, May 3rd, 2016

With the ancestral strength of Berta, Iselaca, Etempica and Mota we raise our voices, full of Life, Justice, Dignity and Freedom.


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