Aura Minerals, a Toronto-based mining company, is seeking to dig up and move a 200 year old cemetery near La Unión, Copán, Honduras. The community of Azacualpa has countless loved ones currently buried in this valued site, with the most recent burial just earlier this year. Aura Minerals says that they cannot continue mining for gold without exhuming and relocating the bodies.
Aura Minerals has been using every tool in the book to collaborate with the local police and military in forcing the community into allowing their family members to be exhumed and relocated, including violently evicting protesters, putting the cemetery under military occupation, bribes and false promises, drone surveillance, charging local leaders with ‘illicit protest’, and declaring the cemetery to be a safety hazard. Despite all of this, the community continues to resist these coercive pressures through blockades, negotiations, and community referenda. Many worry that a relocation of the cemetery could happen any day unless more action is taken.
Just this month, the company and the Honduran Government, Army and Police pressured the Azacualpa Environmental Committee into signing a so-called “Act of Conciliation”, in the presence of:
- Hector Leonel Ayala, Minister of the Interior, Human Rights, Justice and Decentralization;
- Abel Contreras, Departmental Governor of Copan;
- Coronel Mario Edgardo Padilla, Commander of the 120th Infantry Brigade;
- National Police Commissioner Henry Amilcar Márquez Quintero;
who were brought in to intimidate members of the community into signing an agreement to allow for the destruction of the cemetery, without prior consultation with the community. Click here for more information about what happened during this coercive “negotiation”.
The community of Azacualpa needs our help to put pressure on Aura Minerals here at home. Help us tell this Canadian company: Azacualpa has the right to rest in peace!
Here’s what to do:
- Find a picture of a loved one who has passed away (for example, your grandmother, a friend, even a respected celebrity or public figure).
- Take a selfie with this picture in whatever context you’d like.
- Share this picture of yourself on Facebook, Twitter, via photo text to your friends, etc., along with the following message (fill in the info that applies to your photo!): “This is [name and/or relationship]. [Pronoun] has the right to rest in peace, and so should the community of Azacualpa! #right2RIP www.tiny.cc/right2rip.” For example, “This is my friend Alberto. He has the right to rest in peace, and so should the community of Azacualpa! #right2RIP www.tiny.cc/right2rip”.
- If you’re sharing your picture on a platform that allows more than 140 characters, you can add the following text, along with whatever other commentary you’d like to include: “Canadian mining company Aura Minerals is trying to force the community of Azacualpa in Honduras to let them dig up countless loved ones because the cemetery is ‘in the way’ of their mining project. For more information about this atrocity or to join the ‘Right to Rest in Peace’ campaign, click: www.mininginjustice.org/aura-minerals. #right2RIP”
- If you want to support the campaign but don’t have a photo to share, you can tweet/post: “Aura wants to dig up Honduran community Azacualpa’s cemetery for a mine. Join the #right2RIP campaign to fight back:www.tiny.cc/right2rip“.
- Sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/p/right2rip-tell-aura-minerals-to-respect-the-dead-and-the-living-in-honduras
- We are in touch with impacted community members in Honduras, so we would love to hear from you about all the ways that you supported this campaign in order to report some numbers back to them! And be sure to use the hashtag #right2RIP in everything you post.
- BONUS ACTION: Find a piece of paper and write a message of solidarity to the community of Azacualpa to let them know you support their struggle to protect their land, loved ones, and sacred site. Take another picture and send it to email@example.com, and we will pass it along!
Please share this call as far as wide as you can! We’re doing lots behind the scenes, too, to make this work – stay tuned for stories!
For more information:
- Canada’s Aura Minerals Terrorizing Honduran Communities for Protecting Their Cemetery
- Canada-based Aura Minerals Ready to Dig up the Dead in Honduras
- Community Fears Toronto-Based Aura Minerals Preparing to Illegally Remove Cemetery in Honduras with Military Support
Examples of people to contact with your message of support:
- Jim Bannatine, President and CEO of Aura Minerals: firstname.lastname@example.org
- William Monti Reed, Aura Minerals mine manager in Honduras: email@example.com
- Your Member of Parliament
- The Canadian embassy in Honduras: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Michael Gort, Canadian ambassador to Honduras: Michael.Gort@international.gc.
- Claude Beauséjour, Director, Central America Development Program: claude.beausejour@