Kalikasan PNE is a member organisation of the Yes to Life, No to Mining network. They have long been stalwart activists for the rights and safety of community and environmental defenders and have been leading the charge of actions in response to the murder of Berta Caceres last month. The following is an account of their response and action calling for justice, accountability and the defence of life.
A month after the murder of Berta Caceres, a Honduran activist well known across the global environmental movement, Filipino environmental activists joined various groups in a protest action in front of the Honduran Consulate in the Philippines to demand justice from the Honduran authorities.
“The Honduran government has blood on its hands with the murder of Berta Caceres. The recent series of murders of Honduran anti-dam activists demonstrate the impunity of the Honduran government against the rights and safety of its people. We believe the killings and other human rights violations perpetrated against Honduran activists are sanctioned by the government to deter public opposition to its corruption-laden and environmentally destructive mega-projects,” said Clemente Bautista, national coordinator of environmental activist group Kalikasan People’s Network for the Environment (Kalikasan PNE).
The action was organized by the International League of People’s Struggle-Philippines and Kalikasan PNE to express their solidarity with Caceres’ comrades and the Honduran people at large, and to add to the voices demanding justice for Caceres and other victims of extra-judicial killings in Honduras.
Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores was a Honduran environmental activist and indigenous leader of the Lenca people, and co-founder and coordinator of the Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). She was assassinated on March 3, 2016 by suspected state military forces in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras. Almost two weeks later, her colleague Nelson Garcia was also killed. Her relatives and colleagues believe that she was murdered because of her activism against destructive projects of mining and hydroelectric companies.
Honduras was recently classified as the most dangerous place in the world for environmental activists. According to the 2014 report of UK NGO Global Witness documented over 100 killings of Honduran environmental activists since 2009. Before her death, Berta and COPINH was successful in opposing the Agua Zarca Dam owned by Honduran company Desarrollos Energéticos S. A (DESA) and was funded by Central American Bank for Economic Integration (CABEI) and foreign financial institutions like Finnfund and Voith-Siemens. At least four (4) members of COPINH were killed during their campaign against Agua Zarca.
“We honor the life and legacy of our fellow environmental defender, Berta. She exemplified what a genuine human rights and environmental defender should be. Like other environmental martyrs before her, she led by example on how one should assert the rights of the people and the welfare of our mother earth. She pursued her advocacy in spite of the terror and harassment from state and corporate security forces. Not once did she waver in fighting injustice and oppression in her country. We offer our highest salute to Berta Carceres and all Honduran environmental martyrs. We demand that justice must be immediately served,” Bautista declared.
The groups submitted a Letter of Appeal to the Honduran Consulate in Pasig City, Philippines, demanding the urgent resolution of the case, the creation of an independent investigative body, and the immediate arrest and prosecution of the suspected gunmen.
“The Agua Zarca Dam Project should also be junked completely for its worsening atrocious human rights track record, lest another Berta or Nelson’s life is taken once again by big business and the corrupt government,” Bautista ended.