Berta Cáceres Murdered

Berta interviewed by local news in La Esperanza, Honduras. Photo by Dennis Remick

Berta interviewed by local news in La Esperanza, Honduras.
Photo by Dennis Remick

(Excerpted from Human Rights Watch) In the early hours of March 3, 2016, gunmen broke into the home where Berta was staying in La Esperanza, Intibuca, and shot her dead.

The killers escaped without being identified. Cáceres’s family and colleagues have said they believe that she was murdered because of her work on behalf of indigenous and environmental rights.

Cáceres, a member of the Lenca indigenous group, cofounded the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) and led a campaign against the construction of the Agua Zarca Dam on the Gualcarque River. The Chinese state-owned company Sinohydro, the world’s largest dam builder, pulled out of the construction in 2013, publicly citing “ongoing community resistance and outrage.”

Several COPINH members have been attacked and killed during protests, but no one responsible for the attacks has been brought to justice. Cáceres herself had received multiple death threats, media accounts said. In 2009, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) asked the Honduran government to adopt measures to guarantee her safety, but the threats continued.

At a news conference last week, Cáceres said that four community leaders opposed to the dam had been killed since 2013 and that several others had received threats. On February 20, security forces detained more than 100 people who participated in a COPINH protest near the Agua Zarca Dam site, the New York Times reported.

Since a 2009 coup in Honduras, journalists, judges, labor leaders, human rights defenders and environmental activists have been assassinated in targeted killings, with their murders often going unsolved. Twelve environmental defenders were killed in Honduras in 2014, according to research by Global Witness, which makes it the most dangerous country in the world, relative to its size, for activists protecting forests and rivers.

Cáceres was awarded the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize for South and Central America, which honors grassroots leaders for efforts to protect the natural environment. Upon receiving the prize, she said, “They follow me. They threaten to kill me, to kidnap me. They threaten my family. This is what we face.”


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Honduras: Attempted killing of human rights defender Ms María Santos Domínguez

Maria Santos Dominquez

Maria Santos Dominguez

On 5 March 2014, as human rights defender Ms María Santos Domínguez returned to her home, she was surrounded and attacked with sticks, stones and machete by a group of seven individuals. Her husband and her son came to her rescue but were also attacked, with her son losing his ear. María Santos Domínguez has faced death threats on repeated occasions.

María Santos Domínguez is the co-ordinator of the Organización del Consejo Indígena del Río Blanco y del Sector Norte de Intibucá (Indigenous Coucil of Río Blanco and the North of Intibucá). The human rights defender is also a member of the Consejo Cívico de Organizaciones Indígenas y Populares de Honduras – COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organisations of Honduras) and an emblematic leader in the struggle for the defence of the Gualcarque river and the indigenous Lenca territory. Her husband, Mr Santos Roque Domínguez, is also a member of COPINH and a community activist.

On 5 March, just after noon, María Santos Domínguez was returning from preparing school lunches, on the route she normally uses. Santos Roque Domínguez phoned her several times due to the worry caused by the threats already made against the human rights defender. On the fourth call, María Santos Domínguez informed her husband that seven individuals, allegedly the same who had threatened her with death, and who had been waiting for her on her route, had her surrounded. In that moment, her husband and son left the house to search for the human rights defender and found her, having already received deep machete wounds, being beaten with sticks and stones by the group. Santos Roque Domínguez tried to reason with them and pleaded with them not to kill his wife, meanwhile his son attempted to aid his mother. Immediately, one of the group slashed the child with the machete, chopping off his right ear and part of his face. Santos Roque Domínguez was also gravely injured. The attack against the three family members has left them in a serious state of health.

María Santos Domínguez, as well as her husband and son, have been the target of serious threats and attacks because of their work in opposition to the Agua Zarca hydroelectric plant. The same group who attacked them on 5 March also destroyed their crops on a previous occasion.

Maria was one of the people we video taped in September last year for our program, Honduras: Courage and Hope.

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Lucy Edwards with Human Rights Now hosts, Dennis Remick and Don Wertheimer.

Lucy Edwards with Human Rights Now hosts, Dennis Remick (C) and Don Wertheimer (L).

On Tuesday February 18, 2014,  HUMAN RIGHTS NOW, producers, Dennis Remick and Don Wertheimer host Lucy Edwards, Ashland resident and  international human rights accompaniment volunteer for the international organization PROAH (Proyecto de Acompanamiento Internacional en Honduras), for a continuation of her report on human rights in Honduras. Join us at 11:30 AM on KSKQ 89.5 FM (,

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On Tuesday 11, 2014, KSKQ 89.5 FM (, Human Rights Now co-hosts, Dennis Remick and Don Wertheimer, will discuss human rights issues in Honduras with Lucy Edwards.

Since 2010, Lucy has been commuting to Honduras every few months as an international human rights accompaniment volunteer. In Honduras she provides an international presence and witness for threatened organizations, communities and individuals who work defending human rights, indigenous rights and the environment.

Lucy has provide a list of links that give recent information about human rights in Honduras that we will refer to during Human Rights Now.

Recent Human Rights report: (last quarter, 2013)

Recent elections: analysis

PROAH-Honduras Accompaniment Project

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Police question Lenca community member. Photo by Dennis Remick

Police question Lenca community member.
Photo by Dennis Remick

HONDURAS ACCOMPANIMENT PROJECT – PROAH posted a summary of human rights issues and events in Honduras for the months of October, November and December 2013.

“The human rights landscape in the last quarter of 2013 was dominated by the elections on November 24, with an increase in killings and other attacks on political activists, particularly LIBRE. The stigmatization of human rights defenders was particularly acute in the Bajo Aguan and extended beyond the elections. There was some good news regarding criminalization of human rights defenders, with the provisional dismissal of one set of charges against the COPINH leadership, and the entry of AZUNOSA in conciliation negotiations with campesinos and the CNTC. However, there was no let-up in the killings and persecution of particular target groups including journalists, lawyers and members of the LGBTI community.” (From the report)

You can read the full report here: PROAH 2013 OctNovDec

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In Honduras, Posting a Blog Can Come with Jail Time

Children who are members of the Civic Co

Members of the COPINH during a demonstration. Three members of the COPINH, Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina, are currently jailed or on probation for a series of blog posts and speeches accusing the Honduran government and a hydro-electric company of violating their indigenous community’s land rights (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).

We were in Honduras recently taping our documentary, Honduras: Crisis and Hope, and met the principles of one of the issues Southern Oregon -Amnesty International is supporting: Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina. I videotaped the protest by indigenous Lenca from Rio Blanco and other supporters outside the Palace of Justice in La Esperanza demanding justice for the three community leaders. Amnesty has brought their issue up again with a call for urgent action:

In mid-September, Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action calling on the Honduran government to drop its unfounded charges against Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina of the Civic Council of the Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The organization warned, “If they are imprisoned, Amnesty International will consider them prisoners of conscience.”

First, thank you to everyone who took action! Unfortunately, however, the judge did not listen to us. On September 20, 2013, she ordered Cáceres to be held in prison. She also ordered Gómez and Molina placed on probation.

 The “evidence” the judge used to make this ruling? Their speeches and their blog posts – in other words, the exercise of their right to freedom of expression. The prosecution claims that this expression was meant to incite violence, but it has failed to explain whom they were supposedly inciting. Furthermore, Amnesty believes these statements were legitimate complaints that the Honduran government and a hydro-electric company had violated the indigenous community’s land rights.

The good news is that the Honduran authorities have not yet carried out the order of arrest against Bertha Cáceres. Hopefully, the international outcry by activists like you has led them to reconsider their plans.

Click on Urgent Action in the text above to go to Amnesty’s site or on the link below to go to a sample letter.

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Help Protect the Garifuna community of Honduras


Jessica García

Leaders and members of the Afro-descendant Garífuna community in the village of San Juan Tela, Atlántida department, in northern Honduras have been subjected to a campaign of harassment. This is an attempt to force them to hand over land that they have occupied for generations to a real estate company, which has proposed to build a tourist resort in the area.Community members have suffered acts of intimidation linked to their struggle to protect their rights. In March and June 2006 Jessica García, one of the Garífuna leaders, was harassed and threatened at gun point to sign over land belonging to the community. The physical and mental integrity of the members of the community are in danger.

To add your voice for justice for the Garifuna people of Honduras go to:

NOTE: This is an older call to action, but the only element that has changed is the current president is Juan Orlando Hernández (his election has been challenged by opposing political parties). The Garifuna are still threatened by developers and the creation special communities for the very wealthy, that steal their land and condemn them to slums in the larger cities.

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