21st March, 2016
Two weeks ago, we were shocked and dismayed to hear about the murder of Berta Cáceres, indigenous leader and head of COPINH, the Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organizations of Honduras. We were further horrified when we learned that Nelson Garcia, another member of COPINH, was murdered on Tuesday. I am asking for your help in informing my fellow citizens of Belize about this outrage.
I am affiliated with the Goldman Environmental Foundation, which annually presents the Goldman Environmental Prize, the world’s largest award honoring grassroots environmental activism. Last year, we were proud to honor Berta Cáceres with the Prize for her courageous work to defend the Gualcarque River. Berta was an inspiration to us all, and her death reinforces the imperative to protect those who work on behalf of our Earth. We feel like a member of our family has been assassinated.
We join with Berta’s family in calling for: * an independent, international, impartial investigation led by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights into Berta Cáceres’ murder. The Honduran government must invite and fully cooperate with such an investigation. Such an independent investigation is essential given the lack of confidence in the judicial system; reigning impunity, including for cases involving human rights defenders; and the emblematic nature of this case: * The Honduran government to immediately allow independent experts, proposed by Berta’s family, to monitor the ongoing investigation into her assassination: * Compliance by the Honduran government with the precautionary measures granted by the IACHR on March 5 by providing immediate, effective, and carefully consulted protection to members of COPINH, members of Berta Cáceres’ family, and Gustavo Castro Soto (a material witness to the case).
The killings of Berta Cáceres and Nelson Garcia immediately highlight a growing trend of murder, violence, and intimidation of people defending their indigenous land rights in Honduras.
(Signed) Janet Gibson
1990 Goldman Environmental Prize Winner for Latin America