Prize-winning Honduran environmental activist murdered
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Last night assailants attacked and killed Berta Cáceres, an indigenous activist who earned the Goldman Prize in 2015 for her work stopping a dam project in Honduras.
Cáceres co-founded the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, known as COPINH. She won a fight of many years to pressure the world’s largest dam builder, the Chinese state-owned company Sinohydro, to pull out of construction of a complex of large dams known as Agua Zarca.
For over two decades, COPINH’s leadership in defending the lands and peoples of Honduras has earned it countless popular victories. At the same time, the group’s resistance to development megaprojects like dams, mines and forestry concessions has drawn the ire of loggers, dam-builders and palm oil interests. On many occasions, Berta and her colleagues were persecuted, harassed or threatened for their peaceful protests.
Friends of the Earth U.S. and Other Worlds recognized Cáceres’ incredible leadership and dedication, and nominated her for the Goldman Environmental Prize — the environmental equivalent of a Nobel Peace Prize. In April 2015, Cáceres came to San Francisco and Washington, D.C. to accept this award, which recognizes five ordinary individuals in the world every year who work at the grassroots level to protect and enhance our environment.
Jeff Conant, senior international forests campaigner at Friends of the Earth U.S., made the following statement about this tragedy:
The killing of Berta Cáceres is a horrible shock — but, tragically, it is not a surprise. Everywhere in the world where Indigenous and land-based peoples defend the earth and their ways of life, they are persecuted, dispossessed, and, as in the case of Berta and literally hundreds of others in the Honduran resistance movement, murdered in cold blood. We grieve her loss, we demand a full investigation and accountability — and we call for redoubled efforts to support frontline struggles to defend lands and indigenous territories, everywhere.
The Guardian reports:
Berta Cáceres, the Honduran indigenous and environmental rights campaigner, has been murdered, barely a week after she was threatened for opposing a hydroelectric project…..
Police told local media the killings occurred during an attempted robbery, but the family said they had no doubt it was an assassination prompted by Cáceres’s high-profile campaigns against dams, illegal loggers and plantation owners.
“I have no doubt that she has been killed because of her struggle and that soldiers and people from the dam are responsible, I am sure of that. I hold the government responsible,” her 84-year-old mother, Austrabertha Flores, said on radio Globo.
For more information on the life of Berta Cáceres, visit the following links:
Berta Cáceres Is Still Alive (October 2013)