PBI-Canada participates in World Beyond War virtual screening of ‘Berta didn’t die, she multiplied!’ on March 22

Published by Brent Patterson on

For more on the film screening, click here.

Peace Brigades International-Canada was pleased to participate in the World Beyond War organized screening of ‘Berta didn’t die, she multiplied!’.

The trailer for the film can be seen here.

The field team with the Peace Brigades International-Honduras Project began to accompany the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) in May 2016, just a few months after Berta was murdered on March 3 of that year.

PBI generally accompanies six other organizations in Honduras. That includes two other groups that promote the defence of territory and oppose extractive projects (ASODEBICOQ and CEHPRODEC), a group that promotes campesino rights and food sovereignty (CNTC), two LGBTQI+ organizations (ARCOÍRIS and SOMOS CDC), and a group that supports journalists and the right to freedom of expression (ASOPODEHU).

PBI-Honduras has also accompanied OFRANEH at key moments Including the court hearing of Garifuna land defender Leonard Brown earlier this year.

The situation for land defenders

The film cites the Global Witness statistic that 124 land and environmental defenders were killed in Honduras between 2010 and 2017.

The overall safety and security situation for land defenders and water protectors in Honduras continues to be very dangerous.

In 2016, the year Berta was killed, there were 13 other land and environmental defenders killed. In the intervening years – 2017 (5), 2018 (4), 2019 (14), 2020 (17) and 2021 (estimated at 11) – more than 50 land and environmental defenders have been killed.

Seeking justice in the courts

With respect to seeking justice for Berta, our field volunteers have accompanied/been present at the various hearings.

On November 30, 2018, a Honduran court convicted seven men of her murder. More than a year later, on December 3, 2019, those men were sentenced.

In March 2018, David Castillo was charged as an intellectual author of the murder. That trial didn’t begin until April 6, 2021. He was found guilty on July 5, 2021, but has still not been sentenced. Last month, the sentencing for Castillo was scheduled to take place on April 4 (now moved to April 6).

Fraud on the Gualcarque hearings

In August 2021, COPINH was also recognized as a victim in the ‘Fraud on the Gualcarque’ judicial process.

The process is looking at the irregularities in the Agua Zarca hydroelectric project, including acts of corruption in which permits and licences were authorized as well as violations of the Indigenous right to free, prior and informed consent.

On December 9, 2021, the appeal presented by Castillo in the Fraud on the Gualcarque case was denied.

Now, Castillo is seeking amnesty – through a recently passed Amnesty Decree – to be exempted from this corruption hearing. A hearing on that was to take place on March 18, but has been postponed.

Next steps in seeking justice

Last month, Berta’s daughter Bertha Zúñiga Cáceres, now the general coordinator of COPINH, also tweeted: “We will continue to demand the investigation and conviction of the intellectual authors.”

Cáceres family lawyer Víctor Fernández has stated Berta’s family faces “a power structure, the economic structure that murdered Berta Cáceres, who is not only David Castillo, but the company DESA, the national and international financial system that financed and even continues to benefit the entrepreneurs” who benefited from the concession of the hydroelectric dam” on the Gualcarque River sacred to the Lenca people.

The Agua Zarca dam

COPINH continues to seek the revocation of permission for the Agua Zarca dam.

Berta’s daughter Bertha has stated that DESA owns the concession for 50 years meaning it has the right on this until 2059.

She has also highlighted: “They have not given up and apparently have no intention of abandoning the project altogether.”

Canadian foreign policy

On July 30, 2009, about a month after the coup, The Globe and Mail reported: “Canada is still providing training to members of the Honduran army.”

In 2009, Canada provided $16.4 million in official assistance to Honduras. After the coup, that aid has increased to an average of $29 million per year between 2010 to 2016.

By October 2010, Canada and Honduras agreed to launch talks toward a free trade agreement (that then entered into force in October 2014).

Canada (through the Canadian Embassy in Honduras, the Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade/Global Affairs and the Canadian International Development Agency)  also backed the mining law that was ratified in January 2013.

According to Natural Resources Canada, Canadian Mining Assets (CMAs) in Honduras amounted to $78 million in 2019.

We haven’t seen yet the Canadian government response to the pledge from the new Honduran government under President Xiomara Castro to cancel “the approval of extractive exploitation permits” and to “review, suspension and cancelation” of environmental licenses, permits and concessions that are already in existence.

We have also not seen Canada back the U.S. Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act (or a Canadian version of that legislation) that would suspend funding for police and military forces until the Honduran government investigates and prosecutes human rights violations committed by those security forces.

Support

PBI has a team of field volunteers in Honduras who accompany COPINH and other land, environmental and human rights defenders. One way to support the struggle of COPINH is to consider volunteering to be a volunteer with the PBI project in Honduras.

PBI-Mexico is currently seeking volunteers to accompany human rights defenders, including the Peoples Front in Defence of Land and Water. More on that here.

You can also follow us on Twitter and help to amplify the COPINH struggle and awareness about their security situation.


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