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COPINH: URGENT DEMAND

March 6, 2016

The Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) is demanding an independent and impartial investigation into the political murder of Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, COPINH´s General Coordinator. COPINH insists that independent and unbiased experts must carry out an investigation that will clearly identify the true intellectual and material authors of this political murder. of. We specifically demand that the Honduran government signs an agreement with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) to send independent experts to conduct an unbiased, transparent and clean investigation.

COPINH strongly denounces the Honduran State’s manipulation of the investigation of Berta Caceres´ murder. The government aims to criminalize COPINH and clear their own image at national and international level. We denounce the government´s intention to hide the truth about this political crime with claims that it was a crime of passion or a personal crime. We denounce the Honduran government’s investigation of COPINH members.

We denounce the instances of harassment during the investigation, such as the refusal of the request submitted by Berta´s family to the Public Ministry for an autopsy to be carried out in the presence of independent forensic experts, and the seizing by the investigators of the organization´s car, in addition to the shoes of Tomas Gomez, Coordinator of the Organization, without any justification.

We denounce the government’s detention of Aureliano Molina Villanueva, a member of COPINH, for 48 hours, despite witnesses confirming that Aureliano was in San Francisco de Lempira, two hours away from the scene of the crime at La Esperanza, when Berta was murdered.

It is clear that the Honduran State, the same State that criminalized Berta Cáceres, the same State that issued an arrest warrant against Berta, the same State that persecuted her, threatened her and is responsible for her murder cannot investigate itself. The same State that persecuted Berta Cáceres for confronting economic and political powers is only trying to manipulate the investigation to continue criminalizing.

We know with certainty that the murder of Berta Cáceres was a political murder, aiming to silence a national leader in the struggle against the neoliberal model of destruction and death that is imposed by the Honduran State. We hold the Honduran government responsible. We have seen the political and economic powers who wished to silence Berta Cáceres´ struggle in defense of nature and the Lenca people: specifically the struggle in defense of the Gualcarque River, where the DESA company tried for the second time to build an illegal and illegitimate hydroelectric dam.On the morning of March 2nd, the day Berta Cáceres was murdered, witnesses saw DESA´s gunmen in a blue Ford 150 car in Siguatepeque, speaking badly about Berta, just at the turn to enter La Esperanza. We denounce that on February 20, 2016, during COPINH´s mobilization against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam, the Vice-Mayor of San Francisco de Ojuera, who is collaborating with DESA in the promotion of the Agua Zarca project, sentenced our friend Berta Cáceres to death .
On February 16, gunmen followed Berta Cáceres and other COPINH members as they were leaving Rio Blanco. On February 25, during the eviction by the police and the army against Lenca families of COPINH in Jarcia, Guinse, Intibuca, a member of the DGIC harassed Berta Caceres and told them that they wouldn´t help her if anything happened.

Berta was constantly threatened for her defense of the Lenca people, even in the days before she was murdered. We reaffirm what we denounced on February 20 in a COPINH statement, that DESA had hired known criminals as paramilitary guards. One of them was involved in the murder of Bernando Perez and at the end of 2015 he was arrested for illegal possession of guns, but then released after being openly supported with money by DESA´s chief of security Jorge Avila. We reaffirm what we denounced about DESA and the Honduran State´s collaboration in threatening the Lenca people, and we denounce the collaboration between security guards, police officers, military officers and TIGRES deployed in the area where the Agua Zarca dam would be built.

If the Prosecution Office wants to really investigate the death of Berta Caceres, they should seize and investigate the vehicles related to DESA and its gunmen, especially the blue Ford 150 that was driven by DESA´s gunmen on the same day Berta was killed.

Currently, the Honduran state has blocked Gustavo Castro Soto, who witnessed the murder and was also shot, from leaving Honduras. Gustavo is Otros Mundos / Friends of the Earth Mexico´s coordinator. He has already given statements to the investigators. On the morning of Sunday 6th he was not allowed to board a plane to go back to Mexico, and we denounce that his security is at risk.

We demand an investigation on the economic and political powers behind the murder of Berta Caceres Flores, for which we need independent and impartial experts.

We demand justice for Berta Cáceres Flores! We demand the identification of the true murderers of Berta. We demand the Honduran State stops manipulating the investigation and signs an agreement with the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to start an impartial and transparent investigation.

We demand the exit of DESA from the Gualcarque River and that international financial organizations such as FMO and Finnfund withdraw their money and support from the Agua Zarca project.

We demand an end to the criminalization of COPINH and to respect the physical integrity of Tomas Gomez, coordinator of COPINH and the other members of COPINH´s General Coordination, and the members of COPINH in Rio Blanco and all its community leaders.

We demand an end to the murders, persecution, militarization and criminalization of all the defenders of the Honduran people.

We reaffirm our struggle in defense of the natural common resources and the Lenca people.

We reaffirm our defense of the Gualcarque River.

WITH THE ANCESTRAL STRENGTH OF LEMPIRA, MOTA, ENTEMPICA, WE RAISE OUR VOICES FILLED WITH LIFE, JUSTICE, DIGNITY AND PEACE.
BERTA CÁCERES LIVES ON!

COPINH

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