Help free Honduran indigenous leader

12 June 2013 - 4:15pm

On 13 June, Honduran indigenous leader Berta Caceres will face a criminal court in Santa Barbara in Honduras. Berta is a leader of the Lenca peoples, who are fighting in Honduras for human rights and their territorial rights. According to Amnesty International, violence dominates the political agenda in Honduras, and social protest is increasingly being criminalised.

Berta was put in prison in Santa Barbara on 24 May by the Honduran army, working with the police, alleging that they had found a gun in the back of her car. She was released on bail the next day, with the condition that she must face trial, must report to the police station once per week, and she cannot leave the country. And this despite the fact that the Inter American Commission on Human Rights issued a precautionary measure in favour of Bertha Caceres after having received multiple death threats.

Her "crime" was to be driving to accompany the people of Rio Blanco- a community of 400 families which are part of the organisation which she coordinates- the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Populares e Indígenas de Honduras- COPINH). The community of Rio Blanco had been protesting for weeks against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project which is being constructed on the river in their territory by the multinational company Ficohsa.

The project in question is being developed by TNC DESA-SINOHIDRO-FICOSAH (with Chinese and Chilean capitals, among others) and a reservoir will be built to keep the waters of Rio Blanco and Rio Gualquerque. This will force the displacement of Lenca communities and entire populations who have been denied access to their waters since the beginning of the works. The community were not consulted on the Project, in violation of ILO Convention 169. The river is sacred for the Lenca people, who see it as the source of life and of the flora and fauna of the area.

We invite you to sign and promote this petition so that the general public can help to put pressure on Honduran authorities to demand that the charges against her be dropped and to support the communities of Rio Blanco in their struggles to defend their territories.

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