lunes, 21 de agosto de 2017

COPINH Y MADJ: The Public Ministry and the judicial authorities continue violating the rights of the victims in the Berta Caceres case.

The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras COPINH and the legal team of the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice MADJ denouces again the violation of rights and basic procedures with respect to the judicial process in the case of the murder of our compañera Berta Cáceres and the attempted murder of our compañero Gustavo Castro.
Today, August 21st, the preliminary hearing is scheduled for 4 of the 8 accused: Henry Hernández, Óscar Torres, Edilson Duarte, and Émerson Duarte.  However, the Public Ministry, with an absolute lack of respect for due process and the rights of the victims, has not provided the information that supports their accusation so that the victim’s representatives can analyze and participate adequately in the judicial process.
The lack of provision of the necessary information signifies, additionally, the violation of the rights of the victims to participate appropriately in the judicial process and violates, according to international human rights standards, the rights of the accused, particularly with respect to what is established in article 8 of the American Convention on Human Rights and article 14 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
The legal representation of the victims has requested on 6 occasions access to the necessary information to participate in the process, nevertheless, this has been expressedly and tacitly denied by the Public Ministry.
The notification of this hearing coincides with the irregular behavior by the Public Ministry throughtout the whole process.  The notification arrived the friday before the hearing, without having verified the provision of evidence so that the representatives of the victims, and even the accused persons could have the necessary time to prepare their defense, according to the principles of rule of law.  Does the suddenness of this hearing have a hidden interest?  What are they trying to achieve by hiding the information?
We emphasize that up until today, the requests by the victims for access to the information contained in materials that were removed from Berta Caceres’ home following her murder have not been responded to.  It is worrisome that there has been no answer regarding the contents of 3 celular phones, 1 electronic tablet, 1 laptop, 1 hard drive, and 5 USB memories, which were removed from Berta’s home by agents of the police and Public Ministry.
COPINH and the legal team of MADJ denouces the irregular handling of this process and the construction of impunity, as a result of the impediments to the victims’ legal representation realizing their functions. 
As this hearing occurs, the rights of the victims are being violated.
When will we see the intellectual authors?

Justice for Berta!
Justice for Gustavo!


jueves, 6 de julio de 2017

COPINH communicates that FMO and Finn Fund have confirmed their official exit from the murderous Agua Zarca Project


The banks' exit responds to the denouncements and indefatigable struggle the communities organized in COPINH have carried out against the financing by banks of projects that openly violate the rights of Lenca communities and have been imposed and developed through the murder of leaders like Berta Caceres and Tomas Garcia.
This exit has been a long and difficult process where COPINH has been constantly ignored and invisibilized.  The exit of the banks is a victory for communities organized in defense of the sacred Gualcarque River and the rights of the Lenca people.  This victory is a product of cosmic justice/reckoning in which our ancestors have accompanied us constantly.

However, we denounce that the FMO and Finn Fund have ignored COPINH's recommendations about a responsible exit.  To the contrary, the banks continue promoting a decision-making process about a hydroelectric dam project that could generate more violence and repression.  This process contemplates impunity for the murders and crimes committed and the tries to make invisible the responsibility of DESA and the state of Honduras for the violence in the region.  COPINH denounces that this process has already been rejected by the Lenca people of Rio Blanco and that COPINH has informed FMO and their consultant of the serious problems with this process on multiple occasions, however, they have ignored us.

In the same way, in their public declaration, FMO and Finn Fund do not consider their responsibility for the death and human rights violations that have resulted from the project. We continue demanding that the banks recognize their responsibility and that they apologize to the affected communities and COPINH, which they have refused to do.

We thank the organizations that have accompanied us in this struggle against the financing of death in our communities and we invite you to continue to join us in demanding justice, truth, and reparation.

jueves, 29 de junio de 2017

Berta's death sentence was written eight years ago: COPINH on the 8 year anniversary of the coup d'etat

The assassination of Berta Cáceres was planned eight years ago, during the 2009 coup d’état, a death sentence for all social movement leaders fighting the destruction of the common natural goo
d and indigenous communities of Honduras. With the coup d’etat, a mafia installed a criminal military dictatorship that continued on and deepened the process of depriving the Lenca and indigenous communities of Honduras of the right to make decisions about our own territories. The installed regime, through death and with the bloody hands of its repressive military, financed by ...MORE>>>

miércoles, 21 de junio de 2017

Alert: COPINH demands respect for the lives of Lenca people in Río Blanco

New death threats in Rio Blanco against COPINH memberAlert: COPINH demands respect for the lives of Lenca people in Río Blanco

COPINH urgently communicates to the national and international community our serious worry about the defenseless state of the Lenca people in Río Blanco, faced with armed men and constant threats. We insist that the authorities take immediate action to protect the physical wellbeing and lives of COPINH members in Río Blanco, who continue to defend their ancestral territory against the invasion of people linked to the DESA corporation.

In recent months, and especially in the past few weeks, the threats against COPINH members have intensified, especially while they are working on their ancestral lands in Vega del Achiotal and Vega del Culatón, sites where the DESA corporation has invaded Lenca territory to build the Agua Zarca project.

The Madrid family, who is originally from santa Bárbara, illegally took over Lenca territory and sold part of it to the DESA corporation. Several of these people have been employees of the DESA corporation and have been put to work threatening members of COPINH, including our sister Berta Cáceres. We remind you that one of them threatened that they were going to “set things straight with Berta one way or another” just a few months before her assassination and they warned to look out for the consequences.

We denounce that Franklin Madrid has pointed firearms at COPINH members in Río Blanco and fired into the air close to COPINH members while they worked their ancestral landsb. The frequency of the threats is increasing and the COPINH members are in a state of complete vulnerability against the armed men who are openly threatening and intimidating them. Today, June 21st, in the morning hours, several armed men once again threatened COPINH members while they were working at Vega del Culaton. We alert that one of the armed men threatened to kill at any moment the children of Francisco Javier Sánchez, Coordinator of the Indigenous Council of Río Blanco and member of the General Coordination of COPINH.

martes, 6 de junio de 2017

Calling on national and international organizations: Preliminary hearing in case of Berta Cáceres set to begin

The preliminary hearing for one of the most renowned human rights cases in Latin America in recent memory – the case of Berta Cáceres - will take place this Wednesday June 7th, in the First District Court in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

The hearing comes after two previous continuances due to failure to provide evidence to all parties to the judicial process and in the midst of numerous irregularities in the investigation, which has been under the exclusive control of the Attorney General.  

 The purpose of this hearing is to formalize charges against four of the eight men detained thus far:Mariano Díaz Chávez (Major in the Armed Forces), Sergio Rodríguez (Technical and Environmental Manager for the DESA corporation), Douglas Bustillo (former Security Chief for the DESA corporation) and Elvin Heriberto Rápalo (the supposed hitman).

The purpose of the case brought by COPINH and the family of Berta Cáceres is to take a broader look than the case brought by the Attorney General and thereby demonstrate that the assassination is not an isolated incident carried out by individual interests but rather part of a systematic attack against COPINH and its general coordinator.  MORE>>>

miércoles, 31 de mayo de 2017

Declaration of the 11th General Assembly of COPINH: Berta Lives. Facing extractivist death, more organization and struggle is our path

"The path is more struggle, more organization" - Statement of COPINH's 11th General Assembly

Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH)

Declaration of the 11th General Assembly of COPINH: Berta Lives. 
Facing extractivist death, more organization and struggle is our path
We, gathered here as community delegates of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) this May 26th-29th, 2017 in the Utopía Center for Encounter and Friendship, with representation from the states of Intibucá, Lempira, La Paz and Santa Bárbara, declare the following to the national and international public:

We have gathered in this XI Assembly to discuss and debate the future of our organization, taking into account the tremendous obstacles that present themselves along the way, but with full determination and commitment to the ancestral struggle of the Lenca people, we have made strategic decisions about COPINH’s work in coming years.
We have united our hearts and visions, guided by our leader and ancestor Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores with the strength of her spirit and the legacy of her struggle, who for the first time is not with us physically in this Assembly, he have carried out deep discussions about the communities’ needs and the path that our organization will take in the current moment and our reading of the times ahead.    MORE>>>

domingo, 9 de abril de 2017

Berta is dead, but the movement she started lives. COPINH celebrates its 24th anniversary

“Your bullets won’t kill our dreams.” From the 24th anniversary celebration on COPINH’s liberated territory, Utopia. Credit: Beverly Bell

By: Beverly Bell / Source: Other Worlds / The Dawn News / April 4, 2017
The Convergence of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) has defied all efforts over the past year, by the Honduran government and the DESA dam company, to destroy it. This past Monday, March 27, 24 years after BertaCáceres cofounded the Lenca indigenous organization, COPINH hosted an anniversary celebration of rebellion and recommitment.
About 150 people from throughout Honduras and at least five other countries joined for a Lenca ceremony; a forum on challenges and advances; a concert; a film festival; and a humble feast of roasted pig, rice, tortillas, and birthday cake. The event closed late at night with an open-air performance of “Ancestras”, a new play by the Teatro Taller Tegucigalpa (Tegucigalpa Theater Workshop) about COPINH’s fight to defend the Gualcarque River, and structural injustice by the government and oligarchy.
COPNH has not only survived, it continues to serve as a source of inspiration for indigenous and other movements throughout Honduras and the world. As with Berta Cáceres’ life work, COPINH’s goes far beyond environmental defense. Its aim is to transform the political, economic, and environmental landscape of Honduras, and – in conjunction with movements elsewhere – of the world.   MORE>>>

miércoles, 29 de marzo de 2017

Demand the Supreme Court hear the case!


Tomás Gómez Membreño is in grave danger because of his efforts to defend Indigenous lands and rights, work that includes challenging powerful economic interests like the Agua Zarca dam on the Gualcarque River.
Tomás is General Coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (known as COPINH). He courageously assumed the role following the March 2016 assassination of the organization’s then-leader Berta Cáceres, amidst outspoken campaigning to stop the Agua Zarca dam. 

The COPINH after Berta Cáceres: Indigenous Resistance in Honduras

In conversation with Marlene and Tomás, representatives of the COPINH and the Lenca people

(en español a continuación)
Photo by Pablo Dominguez Galbraith
In the wake of last weeks’ International Women’s Day marches around the world, we wish to share these interviews with Marlene Reyes Castillo and Tomás Gómez Membreño, the leaders of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) who are now at the forefront of the organization led by Berta Cáceres until her assassination on March 3, 2106. Berta Cáceres was and remains a global symbol of women’s and indigenous resistance to the dispossession, forced displacement, ecological destruction, and state violence inflicted by extractivist mega-projects around the world.  MORE>>>

sábado, 11 de marzo de 2017

Planting Berta: A year of impunity, a life of rebellion and the roots of a new world

Reflections by Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle, La Voz de los de Abajo
“They tried to bury us, they didn’t know that we are seeds.”
            -Latin American proverb

March 1st-4th, 2017

Tegucigalpa, La Esperanza and Río Blanco, Honduras

Drums rumbled, shakers rattled and copal incense smoke swirled through the air as thousands of black and brown bodies flooded the streets of Honduras’s capital one year after the assassination of indigenous leader Berta 
Cáceres. The pain and persistence of a people, of many peoples, and of the planet they protect, were on full display. “Your bullets can’t kill our dreams,” read one banner. “Wake up humanity, time is running out,” Berta’s famous words, screamed out from another banner. Thousands of people showed up in open defiance of a new “anti-terrorism” law criminalizing public protest, pushed through by the U.S.-backed Honduran dictatorship just in time for the one year anniversary of Berta’s assassination. The march poured out of the STIBYS bottle workers union headquarters, a key site of the Honduran resistance movement following the 2009 military coup, and took over one of the main thoroughfares of the mountainous Honduran capital. Supporters from around the country and world, including La Voz de los de Abajo’s a delegation from Chicago of youth, nurses, unionists, and other solidarity activists, accompanied thousands of people from all of Honduras’s indigenous nations to make clear that one year after the assassination, as the chant goes, “Berta hasn’t died, she’s multiplied.”   LEER TODO>>>

miércoles, 8 de marzo de 2017

Constitutional Challenge Presented Against Agua Zarca

Indigenous peoples and other communities of Honduras gathered together in Tegucigalpa this March 1.  With a colorful mobilization, accompanied by the drums of the Garifuna people and the faces of the Lenca, Tolupan, Garifuna and other peoples, they demanded justice marching towards the Supreme Court of Justice to accompany the presentation of the legal action challenging the constitutionality of the decrees through which the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project on the Gualcarque River was approved, an action promoted by the legal team of the Caceres Flores family and COPINH.
The legal filing aims to declare unconstitutional decrees No. 67 and 68 of 2011, through which the State of Honduras converted in law the Contract of National Waters for the generation of electricity by the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project (PHAZ), located on the Gualcarque River, and the Operating Contract for the Generation, Transmission, and Commercialization of Electricity for the installation of the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project registered in the community of San Ramón, municipality of San Francisco de Ojuera, departament of Santa Bárbara, in territory of the Lenca people of Honduras.  The contracts went into effect in 2011, on the date of their publication in the Official Newspaper La Gaceta.
The petition to declare these decrees unconstitutional is based on the fact that these decrees violate provisions of international treaties such as International Labor Organization (ILO) Convention 169 on Indigenous and Tribal Peoples in Independent Nations and the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, as well as contents of the Constitution of the Republic of Honduras. The decrees violate provisions referring to the right of collective property and the obligation of the State to recognize, title, demarcate, and delimit the lands that Indigenous Peoples have traditionally occupied and utilized; the right to determine their own priorities and strategies for development and the utilization of their lands, territory, and resources; the right to consultation and the obligation of the State to consult in good faith with the goal of obtaining free, prior, and informed consent before any action or measure that could affect their rights as Indigenous peoples. The contracts in favor of DESA, the company promoting the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project, as well as contracts in favor of other projects in the country that affect Indigenous Peoples, were approved through legislative acts not consulted with the affected Indigenous Peoples, as the UN Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples, Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, has declared.
Decisions of the Honduran Justice system confirm that Legislative Decrees 67 and 68 violate the rights of Indigenous Peoples
The legal challenge presented to the Supreme Court makes reference to the criminal proceedings against Martiniano Dominguez, former Mayor of Intibuca, Marco Jonathan Laines, former SERNA Vice-Minister, and Dario Roberto Cardona Valle, former SERNA Vice-Minister, who have been indicted on charges of abuse of authority against the Lenca people and the public administration for their participation in licensing and amplification of the Environmental License of the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project without fulfilling the relevant free, prior, and informed consultation of the directly affected community.  
The court’s argument is that the accused and the institutions they represented violated ILO Convention 169 when they did not realize a consultation and obtain free, prior, and informed consent at the moment of granting the operations permit or the construction permit for the project in question.  

The constitutional challenge also details the series of legal actions carried out by the Lenca people with the goal of guaranteeing respect and compliance with ILO Convention 169 and other instruments that safeguard them.  In 2010, the Indigenous Lenca people organized in COPINH denounced public officials related to the concession of resources for the generation of energy in their territories, and subsequently, in 2014, they presented 49 complaints against 49 Hydroelectric projects that affect Lenca territory, which have been approved without consultation.  
The Lenca and other Indigenous Peoples of Honduras request the declaration of the decrees that enable the Agua Zarca project as unconstitutional and its closure and complete withdrawal from ancestral territory and the Gualcarque River.
In its final part, the legal challenge ratifies that it is presented by COPINH as part of its obligation to safeguard the judicial order that regulates the rights of Indigenous peoples, and particular defend the territory, decision-making, cultural respect, traditions, and everything that constitutes their own vision of the world from the Lenca perspective.  

The legal challenge also establishes the murder of Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, General Coordinator of COPINH, on March 2, 2016, and the implication of DESA with the indictment of its former head of security Douglas Geovanny Bustillo and Environmental and Communications Manager, Engineer Sergio Ramón Rodríguez, as one of the conditions or context that contributes to the constitutional delegitimization of the Agua Zarca Hydroelectric Project, for which the petition requests that decrees 67-2011 and 68-2011 be declared unconstitutional and as a consequence, be declared inapplicable.