Exceptional response from NGO world on killing of Berta Cáceres

March 7, 2016

A group of over 50 international organizations has written to the President of Honduras to express their shock over the recent killing of Berta Cáceres [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/berta-caceres-human-rights-defender-assassinated-today-in-honduras/], to demand an international investigation and the immediate protection of Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican activist, who witnessed her assassination. Here is the letter and signatories in full:

“Dear President Juan Orlando Hernández,

 We, a group of 50+ international organisations, write to express our shock and concern over the recent killing of Berta Cáceres, environmental activist and head of the indigenous rights group COPINH.

 As you will know, Mrs Cáceres was shot dead by gunmen in the late hours of 2 March 2016. Over the years she had received multiple death threats and attempted kidnappings because of her work defending indigenous Lenca land against the Agua Zarca dam project in Río Blanco [1]. These threats had escalated in recent weeks since construction of the dam had restarted.

 We demand an independent international investigation into the circumstances around Mrs Cáceres’ death, and guaranteed protection for her family and colleagues. Mrs Cáceres was granted emergency protection measures by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights because of her acute vulnerability, but she claimed the Honduran state did not fully implement them.

 We also demand urgent action <http://movimientom4.org/2016/03/accion-urgente-solicitamos-la-proteccion-de-gustavo-castro-testigo-del-asesinato-de-berta-caceres/>  to protect Gustavo Castro Soto, a Mexican activist who witnessed her assassination, and to ensure his safe passage back to Mexico.

 Mrs Cáceres’ case is the most high-profile killing within a growing trend in the murder, violence and intimidation of people defending their indigenous land rights in Honduras. Honduras is the world’s most dangerous country per capita to be an environmental or land defender, with at least 109 people killed between 2010 and 2015.

 Mrs Cáceres’ case has not escaped international attention. In a statement issued <http://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/senator-patrick-leahy-decries-the-assassination-in-honduras-of-berta-caceres-300230540.html>  in response to her death U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy called on you to find and punish those responsible for “this despicable crime.” Last year, US Senator Barbara Boxer wrote a letter <https://www.legistorm.com/stormfeed/view_rss/642332/member/11.html>  to US Secretary of State John Kerry urging for better protection of environmental defenders in Honduras. This was in direct response to Mrs Cáceres winning the 2015 Goldman Environment Prize – a prestigious award recognizing grassroots environmental activists from around the world. News of her death has generated substantial international media attention.

 The 50+ international organisations listed below call on the Honduran state to ensure indigenous peoples’ right to their land is respected and that they are able to carry out their legitimate work without fear for their safety.

 Yours faithfully,

Goldman Environmental Prize

 Front Line Defenders

 Global Witness

 Business & Human Rights Resource Centre

 Bank Information Center

 Amazon Watch

 AIDA (Asociación Interamericana para la Defensa del Ambiente)

 Oakland Institute (USA)

 Environmental Investigation Agency US (EIA US)

 Greenpeace International

 Greenpeace USA

 Greenpeace Aotearoa New Zealand:

 Greenpeace in Central & Eastern Europe

 Greenpeace International

 Greenpeace Greece

 Greenpeace in Central & Eastern Europe

 EarthRights International

 Global Green Grants Fund

 International Service for Human Rights

 War on Want

 Friends of the Earth International

 Friends of the Earth US

 Peace Brigades International

 EcoWaste Coalition

 Right Livelihood Award Foundation

 Jenifer Altman Foundation


 Rainforest Action Network

 International Rivers

 CESTA/Friends of the Earth El Salvador and Goldman Prize winner

 National Toxics Network Inc.

 Secrétaire Général Alternatives Durables pour le Développement

 Alaska Community Action on Toxics

 Lynn Henning, Socially Responsible Agriculture Project, 2010 Goldman winner

 The Story of Stuff Project

 Greenpeace Australia Pacific

 Pesticide Action Network Aotearoa New Zealand

 Red de Acción en Plaguicidas y Alternativas en México (RAPAM)


 South Durban Community Environmental Alliance

 Jan Chetana

 People and Water Slovakia


 BaliFokus Foundation

 Armenian Women For Health And Healthy Environment (AWHHE)

 Greenpeace Switzerland

 Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition Huntington (OVEC)

 Rettet den Regenwald (Rainforest Rescue)

 Salva la Selva

 Jorge Varela Marque, Goldman Prize Winner 1999

 Coalition against Land Grabbing – Philippines:

 Central America Women’s Network

 Common Frontiers Canada



 Loire Vivante

 Eco-Accord Centre



8 Responses to “Exceptional response from NGO world on killing of Berta Cáceres”

  1. […] but several well-known ones are among the recipients such as the recently killed Berta Carceres [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/exceptional-response-from-ngo-world-on-killing-of-berta-cac…]. This year’s winners […]

  2. […] UN Special Rapporteur is visiting Honduras as from 23 May. One should hope that the NGOs pressure [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/exceptional-response-from-ngo-world-on-killing-of-berta-cac…] as well as the short video messages by Peter Gabriel and Susan Sarandon published on 12 May by […]

  3. […] woman and environmental human rights defender in Honduras who was assassinated earlier this year [https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/exceptional-response-from-ngo-world-on-killing-of-berta-ca…]. Her organization COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) […]

  4. […] Just days before the Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) met in New York, the murder of Honduran activist, Berta Caceras, made evident the high risks involved in protecting land and environment rights while confronting corporations.[https://thoolen.wordpress.com/2016/03/07/exceptional-response-from-ngo-world-on-killing-of-berta-cac… […]

  5. […] Like the audience of a horror movie, the people around Berta could see that terrible danger was coming her way – but they were powerless to stop it. Honduras has the highest number of killings per capita of environmental and land activists in the world. The vast majority of these killings go unsolved and unpunished. One story that really stands out in this deadly context is that of Berta Cáceres. Berta was the leader and co-founder of an organisation that was campaigning against the construction of a hydroelectric project on the ancestral lands of indigenous communities in Honduras.  In the early hours of 2 March 2016, she was murdered in her own home. Berta knew that she was putting her life in danger, but she was willing to take the risk to stand up for indigenous communities.  Like the audience of a horror movie, the people around Berta could see that terrible danger was coming her way – but they were powerless to stop it. Despite the stark warning that her death served, environmental activists in Honduras say that stopping their work is not an option – no-one else will defend their communities and rights. They continue Berta’s work every day, reminding us that we should never take freedom for granted. It is essential that Berta’s assassination is solved, to show that there is a price to pay for attacking and killing environmental activists. Berta’s story ended in tragedy, but we will not stop fighting until we are sure that other activists will not meet the same fate. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/03/07/exceptional-response-from-ngo-world-on-killing-of-berta…] […]

  6. […] and Indigenous activist who was shot dead in 2016 after years of threats and attacks. [https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/03/07/exceptional-response-from-ngo-world-on-killing-of-berta…] Xulhaz Mannan, an LGBTIQ activist who was hacked to death in Bangladesh, along with his colleague, […]

  7. […] [On 2 March 2016, Berta Cáceres, a courageous defender of the environment and Indigenous rights, was shot dead by gunmen in her home in Intibucá, Honduras.  She campaigned against the Agua Zarca hydroelectric dam project and the impact it would have on the territory of the Indigenous Lenca People. see also: https://humanrightsdefenders.blog/2016/03/07/exceptional-response-from-ngo-world-on-killing-of-berta…] […]

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