Members of the COPINH during a demonstration. Three members of the COPINH, Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina, are currently jailed or on probation for a series of blog posts and speeches accusing the Honduran government and a hydro-electric company of violating their indigenous community’s land rights (Photo Credit: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images).
In mid-September, Amnesty International issued an Urgent Action calling on the Honduran government to drop its unfounded charges against Bertha Cáceres, Tomás Gómez and Aureliano Molina of the Civic Council of the Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). The organization warned, “If they are imprisoned, Amnesty International will consider them prisoners of conscience.”
First, thank you to everyone who took action! Unfortunately, however, the judge did not listen to us. On September 20, 2013, she ordered Cáceres to be held in prison. She also ordered Gómez and Molina placed on probation.
The “evidence” the judge used to make this ruling? Their speeches and their blog posts – in other words, the exercise of their right to freedom of expression. The prosecution claims that this expression was meant to incite violence, but it has failed to explain whom they were supposedly inciting. Furthermore, Amnesty believes these statements were legitimate complaints that the Honduran government and a hydro-electric company had violated the indigenous community’s land rights.
The good news is that the Honduran authorities have not yet carried out the order of arrest against Bertha Cáceres. Hopefully, the international outcry by activists like you has led them to reconsider their plans.
In addition to Amnesty Activists, Honduran authorities have heard from groups such as the Center for International Policy, SOA Watch, and a wide array of citizens’ groups throughout Central America and Mexico.
It is very important, however, take action to keep up the pressure so that the Honduran government can hear us loud and clear:
FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IS NOT A CRIME!
DROP ALL CHARGES AGAINST BERTHA CÁCERES, TÓMAS GÓMEZ, AND AURELIANO MOLINA!
This article by By Larry Ladutke