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The Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras is informing about the murder of our colleague Nelson Garcia, of Rio Chiquito community, Cortes Department, by two unknown gunmen.
We regret to inform you that Nelson Garcia was murdered on Tuesday, March 15, when he was arriving to the house of his mother-in-law to have lunch, after having been all morning helping displaced families of Rio Chiquito community.
The murder took place in the framework of the eviction against Rio Chiquito municipality, in Rio Lindo, Cortes Department, where approximately 100 police officers, 20 members of the military police, 10 army officers and several members of the Criminal Investigation Bureau (DGIC) invaded the territory recovered by 150 families, where 75 of them have built their homes with any materials and resources they could access.
The eviction involved heavy machinery and bulldozers, which destroyed the wooden houses where these families have been living for the past two years, leaving them unprotected. They also destroyed the vegetable gardens and crops of the community, ruining yucca, cane, banana crops, among others, and violating all kinds of rights. They even destroyed an artisanal kiln and they killed some chickens of the community.
The Rio Chiquito community has protected its territory, which was donated to the community women. However, they have been attacked by municipal authorities, especially the former mayor, who used three front men to evict the people and sell the lands.
Nelson Garcia was a COPINH activist who defended the right to housing. We remember him for his active participation in the process to recover land and the creation of the Rio Chiquito community. We have to mourn another death, 13 days after the cruel murder of our General Coordinator, Berta Caceres.
The murder of our friend Nelson Garcia and the eviction of the Rio Chiquito community add up to the war against COPINH, which is attempting to end with the organization´s resistance and what we have built in the past 22 years. These attacks have to be added to the countless threats, assaults, murders, intimidations and criminalization addressed to COPINH members.
Since the murder of Berta Caceres we have been the subjects of a huge number of incidents that show the complete lack of interest by the Honduran government to ensure our lives and our work. It also shows the lack of respect for the IACHR, in terms of the precautionary measures granted to us. The precautionary measures were issued on March 6, and today, 9 days later, one of our members is killed.
How are we supposed to trust the investigation carried out by the State if the organization is being criminally harassed by implying our supposed involvement in the murder and the sources of the threats are not being investigated?
How are we supposed to find justice in Berta´s case when the necessary measures for the protection of her family are not ensured, even when they were being followed by an armed man in Tegucigalpa when they were participating in the meetings with authorities?
Since the same day Berta was murdered, COPINH´s offices in La Esperanza are being watched by unknown people, who intimidate those of us who continue resisting, following the legacy of our leader.
In the same way, colleagues of Rio Blanco community have been followed when travelling to Tegucigalpa to talk about their case before institutions such as the Governance Ministry and representatives of the G16 delegation.
This in addition to the incident where community members were attacked by security officers of the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project when they were on their way to the Gualcarque River. The officers fired shots at them, fortunately missing.
All these attacks are part of a plan to eliminate our organization, so we call on the national and international solidarity to fight against them.
We demand an end to the persecution, harassment and war against COPINH.
We demand the Honduran government responds for the death of our members and that it puts an end to impunity.
We demand justice for our friend Berta Cáceres
With the ancestral strength of Lempira, Mota, Etempica, Berta, we raise our voices filled with life, justice and peace.
Berta lives on, the struggle continues!
La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras. March 15, 2016
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