Honduras: Prominent human rights defender murdered

published 8 March 2016 updated 10 March 2016

The global education trade union movement has firmly condemned the murder of environmentalist and human rights defender Berta Caceres.

Caceres, the coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular Indigenous Organisations of Honduras(COPINH), was killed by gunmen on 2 March in her home in La Esperanza, Honduras.

Renowned activist Caceres was awarded the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize, honouring grassroots activists for sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the natural environment. She was granted the award for her fearless work in defending the Gualcarque River, its surrounding environment, and people from the Agua Zarca Dam.

Berta Caceres acceptance speech, 2015 Goldman Prize ceremony

EI: Promotion of decent working conditions

In a letter addressed to the President of Honduras Juan Orlando Hernández, the President of the Education International (EI) regional committee for Latin America, Hugo Yasky, as well as several other key regional education leaders, raised the killing of Caceres. Yasky highlighted the fact that EI defends quality public education and the right to freedom of association. In its work, EI also aims to ensure decent working conditions for the labour sector of education “as an essential condition to guarantee democracy, equality, social justice and human rights”.

‘Political crime’

EI joined with its affiliate union, Colegio profesional superación magisterial(COLPROSUMAH) of Honduras, in its strong condemnation of the murder of Berta Caceres, “who incessantly fought alongside the Lenca indigenous people for environmental protection in western Honduras”, whilst regarding her death as “a political crime”.

EI also demanded that the Honduran government ensures that a full inquiry is made into the murder and that “justice be made according to the law of the country”.

EI further urges the Honduran public authorities to explain their refusal to put Caceres under protective measures despite the request of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

Call for respect

Finally, EI demanded “respect for the lives and work of union leaders, peasants and unions in Honduras” and that an end be put “to all kinds of harassment and denigration campaigns against them”.