Call to Action to Support COPINH and the Community of Rio Blanco, Honduras

These are the events that have unfolded as a result of a walk organized by COPINH that began [yesterday] morning. The community was walking to the Gualcarque river where DESA-Agua Zarca are constructing a hydroelectric dam project. For background on the project and COPINH/Rio Blanco’s resistance, see Annie Bird’s report.

Victor Fernandez, COPINH’s lawyer sends this report on 2/21 at 9:05 pm Honduras (or 10:05 Eastern/7:05 pm Pacific) after hearing from Berta Caceres:

  • “Their cars and buses were damaged as the police and military observed the vandalizers [people working with the municipality of San Francisco de Ojuera; and people working with DESA), without protecting or assisting them. Right now, they are walking [the buses and cars were stopped and preventing from continuing thus forcing COPINH, residents of Rio Blanco and International observers to walk at least 5 hours] and are very worried because they still have not passed by San Francisco de Ojuera where there are many armed individuals with an aggressive attitude towards COPINH. The police patrols have abandoned them despite the known risks they face. Given these risks, they [COPINH] asks that security be provided to them given that many patrols are in the area taking care of the property of the company”

The following police were on site and involved in the reported harassment: Commissioner Sanchez from Santa Barbara and an Official named Phillips. 

DENUNCIA FROM YESTERDAY (2/21) WITH NUMBERS: 
Please read below and call these numbers to express your concern with the harassment and illegal detention of residents of the community of Rio Blanco and COPINH happening right now!! There are international observers present at the scene as well! Call numbers below and demand:

  1. Request the immediate stop to all harassment of the community of Rio Blanco and members of COPINH.
  2. Remind the following individuals that Berta Caceres of Copinh has protective measures from the Inter-American commission of human rights.
  3. Demand respect for the rights of indigenous people who were not consulted regarding the construction of a hydroelectric project on the gualcarque River.
Numbers to call: 
 
Please write Karen Spring with the responses that you receive.

From COPINH:

“In a peaceful walk that COpINH was carrying out at this moment, employees of DESA-Agua Zarca and the mayor of San Francisco de Ojuera and the National party are detaining and harassing more than 100 compañeros that are part of the walk in San Francisco de Ojuera. These detentions are being supported by the National military of Honduras, private security guards, and police.

We demand respect for the right to protest and the right to walk to the gualcarque River to defend life and lenca territory.

We denounce the DESA engineer Sergio Rodriguez as well as the mayor Raul Pineda and groups of the national party for threatening the physical and emotional  integrity of our compañeros. We call for urgent solidarity!

At this moment, more people from Rio Blanco are coming to where we are and together, towards the installations of DESA-Agua Zarca and Te mayor of San Francisco de Ojuera.

Rivers cannot be sold, they are taken care of and defended!!! 

In Spanish: 

“En la caminata pacifica que el COPINH está desarrollando en este momento,  empleados de DESA-AGUA ZARCA y la Alcaldía de San Francisco de Ojuera y del Partido Nacional están deteniendo y hostigado a más de cien compañerxs que son parte de esta caminata,  esto en San Francisco de Ojuera. Estas detenciones están siendo apoyadas por Ejército Nacional de Honduras, guardias privados,  sicarios,  policía.
Exigimos respeto al derecho a movilización y a manifestarnos, el derecho a caminar hacia el Río Gualcarque para defender la vida y el territorio Lenca.
Denunciamos al ingeniero Sergio Rodríguez de DESA así como al Alcalde Raul Pineda y las ordas nacionalistas por amenazar  la integridad física y emocional de nuestrxs compañerxs.  –Llamamos a la solidaridad urgente! 

En este momento se desplazan más compañerxs de Río Blanco hacia este punto y juntos,  más de 200 caminaremos hacia el plantel que a impuestos DESA-AGUA ZARCA y la Alcaldía de San Francisco de Ojuera.

¡LOS RÍOS NO SE VENDEN SE CUIDAN Y SE DEFIENDEN!! COPINH!”
 

Update from earlier in the day on February 21, 2016: 

Approximately one hour ago Berta and 200 people members of communities impacted by the Agua Zarca dam were taken off of buses by military and police, and the buses impounded. This group, including women and children, is thus being forced to walk five hours through areas with a heavy paramilitary presence. Though they are accompanied by a group of approximately 25 witness for peace volunteers, there is still significant concern for their safety, including that of the WFP delegation. If anyone could call the Minister of Security, Julian Pachexo, and express concern for their saftey, please do so. +504 9456-3699

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