Hon­duras Bishop de­nounces mur­der of en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivist

The Church of England - - NEWS -

THE DIO­CESE of Hon­duras has de­nounced the mur­der of an en­vi­ron­men­tal ac­tivist who had spear­headed the fight by in­dige­nous Lenca peo­ple to stop the con­struc­tion of a dam in west­ern Hon­duras.

On 5 March the Rt Rev Lloyd Allen and the Hon­duras dioce­san stand­ing com­mit­tee re­leased a state­ment fol­low­ing the mur­der three days ear­lier of Berta Cáceres (pic­tured) in La Esper­anza.

Cáceres led the pub­lic cam­paign against the dam, or­gan­is­ing ral­lies and bring­ing le­gal com­plaints be­fore the Hon­duran courts and the In­ter-Amer­i­can Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion. Last year, she won the Gold­man En­vi­ron­men­tal Prize, which is awarded to lo­cal lead­ers who build com­mu­nity sup­port to pro­tect the en­vi­ron­ment.

The Epis­co­pal Church “deeply re­gret the de­spi­ca­ble mur­der of the leader of the Lenca peo­ples, who was a de­fender of in­dige­nous rights and a pro­tec­tor of the en­vi­ron­ment in the sa­cred river ter­ri­tory of Gual­car­que,” the state­ment said.

The dio­cese, which be­gan mis­sion work among the Lenca In­di­ans in 2009 and planted sev­eral dozen preach­ing sta­tions and mis­sions in the re­gion said Hon­duran and in­ter­na­tional law guar­an­teed the rights of “in­dige­nous and tribal peo­ples” and “we strongly con­demn the crime against hu­man­ity in the mur­der of our sis­ter Berta Cáceres.”

The state­ment said Cáceres “was a brave and un­wa­ver­ing ad­vo­cate for the rights of both in­dige­nous peo­ples and the pro­tec­tion of the en­vi­ron­ment. She leaves a last­ing im­pres­sion on the Hon­duran peo­ple. Her death leaves a bit­ter taste that com­pels us to speak out.”

The dio­cese called upon Hon­duran Pres­i­dent Juan Or­lando Hernán­dez to en­force the rule of law in the coun­try, which has the highest mur­der rate in the Amer­i­cas.

“We call for jus­tice to be done in this case and for the gov­ern­ment not to rest un­til this crime has been solved … We call on the au­thor­i­ties to ful­fill their duty to hon­our life, en­vi­ron­men­tal rights, and the rights of in­dige­nous peo­ples.

“Like­wise, we call on the state to com­bat those in­volved in drug traf­fick­ing and or­gan­ised crime. These were the ban­ners that our sis­ter Berta Cáceres hoisted tire­lessly dur­ing her life­time,” the dio­cese said.

Pres­i­dent Hernán­dez called the killing “a crime against Hon­duras, a blow for the peo­ple of Hon­duras,” and promised an in­ves­ti­ga­tion with help from the United States.

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