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Council of Canadians joins with allies to demand Trudeau respond to violence in Honduras

The funeral procession for slain land rights defender Berta Cáceres.

The Council of Canadians has joined with MiningWatch Canada, Rights Action and numerous other organizations in sending a letter to the Canadian government following the murders of land defenders Berta Cáceres and Nelson Garcia, ongoing threats against the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), and the precarious situation of Mexican activist Gustavo Castro, who witnessed Berta’s murder.

The letter says it is imperative that the Canadian government press publicly, and use every other means available, to demand Honduran authorities:

– Guarantee the security of all of the members of COPINH, Berta’s family and Gustavo Castro through full implementation of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) precautionary measures;

– Incorporate a group of independent international investigators who have the trust of Berta’s family and COPINH into the ongoing investigation into Berta’s assassination through an agreement with the IACHR. This should also be expanded to include the threats, criminalization and murder of other members of COPINH including Nelson Garcia;

– Lift the measure that currently impedes Gustavo Castro’s safe and immediate return to Mexico;

– Immediately and definitively revoke the Energy Development Company’s (DESA) concession for the Agua Zarca project, granted without the Lenca peoples’ free, prior and informed consent; suspend, review and annul all other hydroelectric and mining concessions on Lenca territory granted without the Lenca people’s free, prior and informed consent; demilitarize Lenca territory; and respect the Lenca people’s autonomy.

The letter also calls on the Trudeau government to:

– Cut off Canadian public funding to the Honduran government and security forces through the Anti-Crime Capacity Building Program (ACCBP) and the Stabilization and Reconstruction Task Force (START);

– Given the lack of free, prior and informed consent of the Lenca Indigenous people, suspend all Canadian government and public support – including funding, investment insurance, government and embassy services of any kind – that HydroSys and any other related investors in projects along the Gualcarque River might be receiving;

– Ensure that no Canadian overseas development aid, other financing or services are used to support infrastructure or mega-projects that do not have the free, prior and informed consent of Indigenous peoples whose lands and rights will be affected, in accordance with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and International Labour Organization Convention 169 as minimum standards. While violence is used to silence Indigenous people who exercise their right to oppose projects that will affect their lands and rights, conditions do not exist to guarantee free, prior and informed consent;

– Investigate the Canadian government’s role in Honduras during and since the 2009 military-backed coup by expanding the parliamentary committee study on Honduras, ensuring broad public participation.

Copies of the letter were also sent to Honduran and Mexican representatives in Canada.

Since the coup in Honduras in 2009, more than 100 environmental activists have been murdered. During this same period, Canadian authorities pushed for a new mining law and negotiated a free trade agreement with Honduras.

Further reading
COPINH opposes Canadian dam construction in Honduras (March 17, 2016)
Help stop the Agua Zarca Dam (March 15, 2016)
Council of Canadians condemns the murder of Berta Cáceres (March 4, 2016)