The Atlantic Region Solidarity Network (ARSN) wishes to express its most sincere sympathy and solidarity to the family and community of Berta Cáceres who was murdered in her home Wednesday night. Berta was a brave, thoughtful, visionary leader who defiantly defended the rights of indigenous peoples to defend their rights and territories. Berta was proud to be an indigenous Lenca woman, mother, daughter, grandmother, sister and friend. She inspired people to seek truth and work for justice. Recognized internationally for her work, Berta was the 2015 recipient of the Goldman Environmental Prize.
As the general coordinator of the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), Berta worked tirelessly to protect communities at risk of eviction because of large scale projects that put their lives and livelihoods at risk, including hydro-electric and mining projects. Since the 2009 coup d’etat, Berta and her colleagues have consistently denounced the aggression, violence and repression that have plagued indigenous communities defending their homes against the transnational extractive industry. Because of this work, Berta regularly received threats. As a result, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights ordered the Honduran State to provide precautionary measures to protect Berta’s life – an order they failed to comply with.
ARSN condemns the murder of Berta Cáceres and all indigenous and peasant community leaders who face violence and threats for their work defending their communities. We respect the rights of communities to say “no” to projects that threaten sovereignty and life. We denounce the role of the Canadian government in perpetuating this violence through free trade agreements that put human rights and environmental defenders at risk. We urge the Honduran government to thoroughly investigate Berta’s tragic murder while ensuring that no other life is put in jeopardy, and ensure the protection of her family, other members and communities of COPINH, and any witnesses.
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