Organizations take to streets to denounce brutal assassination of Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres
For Immediate Release
Toronto – A coalition of civil society organizations is demanding action following the tragic murder of Berta Cáceres in Honduras. The group is calling on the Canadian government to unequivocally condemn the murder. To pressure the Honduran government to support the Inter American Commission on Human Rights to name a commission of experts who are independent and trusted by National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to supervise, support and participate in the investigations that the General Attorney’s Office is currently undertaking.
On Thursday, March 3rd, Berta Cáceres, a 45 year old Indigenous Lenca women and co-founder of COPINH, was murdered after armed men broke down the door to her home and shot her. A Mexican environmental activist who was with Berta, Gustavo Castro Soto, was also shot but survived. Honduran authorities have issued a migratory alert, preventing him from immediately returning to Mexico, provoking concerns for his safety.
The Canadian government under Stephen Harper signed a free trade deal with Honduras in 2013. The Canada-Honduras FTA provided diplomatic and economic backing for an undemocratic government responsible for widespread human rights abuses and economically-motivated violence. The situation in Honduras has continued to deteriorate as Indigenous leaders and environmental activists are routinely assassinated, according to a recent report by Global Witness, an International NGO.
Today, the Canadian government is pushing to ratify the Trans-Pacific Partnership a deal that looks very similar to the one Canada signed with Honduras.
The murder of Berta Cáceres has mobilized organizations across North America. United Steelworkers National Director Ken Neumann stated “Berta ́s determination as an indigenous leader and environmental activist is an example to all those who continue to fight for the rights of indigenous people and their right to protect their land.”
Idle No More organizer Tori Cress of the Anishinaabe Beausoleil First Nation said “Indigenous land defenders like Berta are often the target of corporations in collusion with governments to usurp their lands for mega development projects. This is very much in line with accusations against Canadian mining corporations, many of whom are accused of displacing Indigenous communities and polluting the environment all over the world.”
Rally organizers will also deliver an open letter signed by over 80 human rights, ecumenical and labour organizations calling on the Canadian government to unequivocally condemn the murder.