Environmental activists in Honduras continue to be threatened and murdered following the assassination of environmental activist Berta Cáceres earlier this month. Gustavo Castro, an activist staying at Cáceres home, witnessed her murder and was shot twice during the attack. Now, he is being detained by Honduran authorities. Nelson García, a fellow member of the organization COPINH, was killed 13 days after Cáceres’ death.
García had spent a morning with families who were being evicted from their homes by the Honduran authorities. The families had lived on the land for two years, yet watched as their homes and gardens were demolished by tractors and “heavy machinery.” Afterwards, García was en route to his mother’s home for lunch when he was shot by gunmen.
COPINH says the attack builds on the intimidation and death threats they’ve already received. Eight of the nine coordinators of the organization have been interrogated without a reason for up to 12 hours. One of their community radio stations, a women’s shelter, and some of their offices were monitored unlawfully.
A few hours after García’s death, COPINH leader Aureliano Molina was held for 48 hours. Unknown men then attempted to illegally search his home and circled it in cars bearing no license plates.
The second death calls attention to the dangerous plight of activists in Honduras. Cáceres’ daughter Bertha, who is pursuing a master’s degree in Mexico, is currently in the United States preparing to speak about her mother’s death to the UN. She criticized the Honduran government for their response to the outrage.
“This is not the first assassination, but one of a series of assassinations of human rights defenders…I don’t want another human rights defender to be assassinated,” she said. “I never imagined someone with national and international recognition, and that had won the award, that this would happen.”
Another of Cáceres’ daughters said she had been suspiciously followed by armed men. The family said that they hold the government and businesses associated with the construction of the Agua Zarca dam responsible for Cáceres’ death, and called for a separate investigation not associated with the government.
“They not only killed our mother, but the mother of an entire people,” they said at press conference.
International organizations such as Amnesty International and the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights called for safety measures to be put in place for other activists, yet the Honduran government thus far has not listened to their plea.
COPINH said, “We demand an end to the persecution, harassment, and the war against COPINH members. We demand justice for our dead colleagues from the Honduran government and an end to impunity.”
Via The Guardian