Carys Afokos / SumOfUs.org & Nina Lakhani / The Guardian – 2016-03-20 00:45:45
Another Eco-Activist Is Murdered in Honduras
This is huge news — but we haven’t won yet. FMO’s CEO and other executives are due to travel to Honduras to determine whether or not it will continue investing in Agua Zarca. This visit is a unique opportunity to come together and tell FMO do the right thing: pull out of the Agua Zarca dam or face a global public backlash.
In memory of Berta and Nelson, and all the other activists who have unjustly lost their lives to stop this dam, FMO needs to stand in the right side of history and stop investing in a dam that has already caused irreparable damage.
Fellow Honduran Activist Nelson Garcia
Murdered Days after Berta Caceres
Nina Lakhani / The Guardian
MEXICO CITY (March 16, 2016) — Another indigenous activist has been murdered in Honduras amid an escalating wave of repression against the relatives and colleagues of renowned campaigner Berta Caceres, who was murdered less than two weeks ago.
Nelson Garcia, 38, an active member of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras (Copinh) was killed on Tuesday after a violent eviction carried out by Honduran security forces in a nearby Lenca indigenous community.
Garcia was shot dead in the face by unidentified gunmen as he returned to his family home in Rio Lindo, north-west Honduras â€“ about 100 miles south of La Esperanza where Caceres was murdered at home on 3 March.
Garcia spent the morning with the Rio Chiquito community where more than one hundred police and military officers helped evict dozens of families from land which local politicians claim doesn’t belong to them. Their simple timber houses and crops were destroyed using heavy machinery yesterday morning, according to Copinh.
Caceres co-founded Copinh 22 years ago amid growing threats to Lenca territory from loggers, farmers and state-sponsored projects.
Last year, the activist won the prestigious Goldman Environmental Prize for her opposition to one of the region’s biggest hydroelectric projects, a cascade of four dams in the Gualcarque river basin, including the Agua Zarca dam. The river is sacred to the Lenca people and the proposed dam would cut-off food and medicine supplies to nearby communities.
Caceres was shot dead at her home after suffering years of intimidation and threats against her life linked to her activism.
Since then, there has been growing fears for the safety of her colleagues and family members who have been subject to harassment and intimidation by the authorities.
According to Copinh, eight of the organization’s nine coordinators in La Esperanza have since been interrogated for up to 12 hours at a time on numerous occasions without being properly informed of the reasons for their questioning.
Aureliano Molina, one of the group’s leaders, was detained hours after the killing and released 48 hours later without charges. A few days later, several unidentified men driving cars without number plates circled Molina’s home and tried to gain entry to conduct an illegal search.
The comings and goings in various Copinh offices, including the community radio station and a women’s shelter, have been subject to illegal monitoring since the murder.
In addition, police officers were observed photographing protesters last week at a march in La Esperanza demanding justice for Caceres. One of her daughters has also reported being followed by plainclothes armed men in the capital, Tegucigalpa.
“We demand an end to the persecution, harassment and the war against Copinh members,” the group said in a statement on Wednesday. “We demand justice for our dead colleagues from the Honduran government and an end to impunity.”
Amnesty International is among several international human rights groups to raise the alarm about the welfare of Mexican activist Gustavo Castro Soto, who witnessed the murder of Caceres and suffered gunshot wounds himself, as he has been prevented from leaving Honduras.
An urgent request made on 5 March by the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights for safety measures to protect Copinh members, Soto and Caceres’ family has so far been ignored by the Honduran government. Copinh and Caceres’ daughter Bertha have called for an independent investigation into the activist’s death.
Honduras is the most dangerous country in the world for environmental defenders with 101 murdered between 2010 and 2014, according to the NGO Global Witness.
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ACTION ALERT: Demand the FMO Dutch Bank
Halt Its Investments in the Agua Zarca Dam
Berta Caceres was killed because she was defending her community from a mega-dam project in Honduras. Dam investors think that with Berta out of the way, the project is a done deal — let’s prove them wrong.
Berta stood up to corporations and helped delay the construction of the Agua Zarca dam that would destroy her community’s land and the Gualcarque River in Honduras. The dam was delayed due to protests for so long, that investors started pulling from the project.
As a result, Berta became a target for corporate spying, intimidation, and ultimately murder, simply because money wasn’t being made.
This is why we are calling on the largest remaining investor of the dam, FMO (a Dutch Development bank) to join the Chinese investors Sinohydro and the International Finance Corporation in withdrawing financial support for this project immediately.
Call on the FMO Dutch Bank, one of the largest investors in the dam, to withdraw its investment in the Agua Zarca dam. Ask the FMO bank to withdraw investment of the Agua Zarca project.
According to FMO’s own website, the bank has a long-standing commitment to environmental and social sustainability. This commitment alone should have led them to stay away from the Agua Zarca dam, proposed to be built in sacred indigenous land and the Gualcarque River, but now FMO is complicit in Berta’s assassination.
51% of FMO’s shares are held by the Dutch government. Unless FMO is prepared to face both a domestic and international outcry, it cannot afford to see through its investment in the Agua Zarca dam.
Since the right-wing coup against Manuel Zelaya in 2009, activists have been systematically persecuted by the Honduran government, making Honduras one of the most dangerous places in the world to be an activist or community organiser.
This was certainly true for Berta. Just last year she won the Goldman Environmental award for her successful campaign against the Agua Zarcao dam, and she has now paid with her life.
This isn’t the first time that the SumOfUs community has stood with brave activists defending their homes, lands and livelihoods against corporate giants. Thanks to our generosity, Maxima AcuÃ±a, the Peruvian anti-mining activist, was able to contract private security to protect her from possible corporate-sponsored assailants. And thanks to us coming together and supporting Maxima, the Yanacocha mine will not been able to go ahead without a community consultation.
Berta’s death hurts so many of us who want to see a fair and equitable world. These corporations think that by taking her out, the resistance to the dam is dead. Let’s prove them wrong and push FMO out of this unethical deal!
Let FMO know that its reputation is at stake, and tell it to withdraw its investment from the Agua Zarca dam. Call on FMO to withdraw its investments from the Agua Zarco dam now and protect sacred indigenous land.
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