From Witness for Peace, 3/2/2018:
2 Years Without Justice!
Today marks two years since Berta Cáceres, the beloved Lenca Indigenous, feminist, environmental leader and co-founder of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), was brutally assassinated in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras. Witness for Peace continues to demand justice for her brutal, politically-motivated murder (*see the end of this email for more background on Berta’s case).
In response to Berta’s assassination, in June 2016 Rep. Hank Johnson (GA) introduced the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act in the House of Representatives, with immediate and broad support including from the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, Witness for Peace, and over a hundred other faith, labor, environmental, and human rights organizations. Berta’s family and organization COPINH immediately applauded the action and praised the leadership of these members of Congress. Your member of Congress hasn’t yet co-sponsored the bill, so please contact them NOW.
In the aftermath of the highly contested Honduran presidential election in late November, the kind of violence and repression by state security forces in Honduras (US-backed and otherwise) that ended Berta’s life has only gotten worse . Since then, state security forces have killed approximately 38 people protesting the highly controversial election, who were calling for a thorough investigation into pervasive allegations of electoral fraud and no international recognition of the very probably fraudulent results. There can be no discussion of justice for Berta Cáceres’ assassination, or of true human rights more broadly in Honduras until the Honduran security forces can no longer act with impunity–which they continue to do with the US government’s official blessing. That’s why your advocacy, calls, e-mails, and tweets as a constituent are more important than ever, as we push our Reps to demand justice for Berta and the many other human rights leaders assassinated in Honduras.
Here are several simple ways you can take to let your Representative know how critically important it is that they support this landmark bill, which would suspend all “security assistance to Honduran military and police until such time as human rights violations by Honduran state security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.”
Call your Representative and ask to speak to their Foreign Policy Aide.
Script: “My name is _____. I’m a constituent from (your town/city) in (your state), and I’m calling to ask Rep. (their name) to co-sponsor H.R. 1299, The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, calling for a suspension of US security aid to Honduras until human rights violations committed by the Honduran security forces cease. Especially after the contested election, with over 35 killed as part of repression of protests, violence by state security forces and impunity for their abuses are absolutely rampant. Has Rep. (their name) seen this bill? Can I count on them to sign on? Please call me this week at (your phone number) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Rep. (their name) will sign it.”
In your phone conversation, please highlight why this bill is important to you, especially if you have traveled to Honduras or heard a Honduran speaker in your community.
Send an email to your Representative’s foreign policy aide to advocate for them to co-sponsor the bill. The standard House email format for aides/staffers is [First name].[Last name]@mail.house.gov and you can find information on your Rep’s staff here.
Tweet at your Representative, urging them to co-sponsor the bill; use this tool to send a tweet to them, or compose your own, along the lines of the example below, if you’d like.
@[YourRep'sTwitterHandle], Honduras is in crisis following its contested election & the killings and repression of protesters & activists that followed. More than ever, we need the #BertaCáceresAct #HR1299 Contact @RepHankJohnson’s office to co-sponsor this crucial, historic bill
Post an image to your Representative’s Facebook page (and on your Facebook page) using this tool and encourage friends in your congressional district to do the same.
Additionally, please see our open letter on the two-year anniversary of Berta’s assassination: http://witnessforpeace.org/open-letter-on-the-two-year-anniversary-of-the-assassination-of-berta-caceres/
You can also join us on a delegation to Honduras! The best way to learn about the crisis in Honduras and the inspiring resistance to US-led policies of militarization is to travel with WFP and hear from the Honduran social movements directly. Join us on a delegation this spring or summer.
Thank you for your advocacy on this crucial legislation for human rights and an end to militarization and impunity in Honduras!
Witness for Peace
*More information on Berta’s case:
Although nine arrests have been made in the case, the investigation has been riddled with irregularities (including the theft of the case files), and evidence suggests that most, if not all of the intellectual authors of the crime remain at large. Moreover, Berta’s family and her organization COPINH have been intentionally kept in the dark about the ongoing proceedings against her killers.
Revelations surfaced that two Honduran soldiers arrested for Berta’s murder received US training, that the assassination was possibly planned and coordinated by the Honduran military, and that Berta was actually on a military hitlist. These things, alongside the continued murder,harassment, and criminalization of resistance that have occurred in the last four months, show a Honduran government that has, with US backing, continued to use violent state power to repress social movements like Berta’s.
An international group of legal experts (GAIPE, by its Spanish acronym), has documented that there was an organized plot to assassinate Berta that involved Honduran state security forces and personnel of the company building the Agua Zarca dam project, against which she had been organizing for years.
BREAKING UPDATE: Today, Honduras’ Public Ministry announced the arrest of the president of DESA, the company building the Agua Zarca dam project: COPINH emphasizes that this was due to national and international pressure and solidarity, but that it doesn’t represent the attainment of justice for Berta.