COPINH informs on the preliminary hearings in Berta Cáceres case
The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations in Honduras (COPINH), along with the family of comrade Berta Cáceres and the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ) informs the national and international community about the conclusions of the evidentiary hearing in the first judicial process against the 8 people accused of taking the life of our sister Berta Cáceres, or facilitating conditions for it, and for the attack against our comrade Gustavo.
This hearing that took place few days before the opening of the trial that will condemn or absolve the people who have been detained so far, has held several sessions which have been delayed because of the lack of resolve with regards to the missing information.
The hearing concluded with the court’s denial of the majority of the evidence presented by our accusation that intended to contextualize the systematic attacks that Berta suffered for fulfilling her role as COPINH’s coordinator and to see the attacks as part of a plan to neutralize and attack the struggles in defense of the territories against the plundering by private companies.
This specifically means the rejection of the testimonies of those who are part of the board of directors and whom had the commanding voice in the operative work carried out by DESA to attack the work of Berta Cáceres: Pedro Atala Zablah, José Eduardo Atala Zablah, Jacobo Nicolas Atala Zablah and Mr. Daniel Atala Midence. The Honduran “justice system” still does not have the guts to bring the representatives of the powerful commanding companies to court.
In addition, the court has rejected the expert analysis of the social and political context, which would be carried out by experts to develop a specialized analysis of the situation in which Berta, as leader of a people’s process of the Lenca people, carried out her work and thus determine the interests that she was opposing.
This is a blow to the integral search for the truth as it should not be ignored that Berta was killed for her organizational work and for her work as human rights defender, which also relates to the need to recognize COPINH as a formal victim of the attack.
The Inter-American Court has considered that “the execution of a union leader […] does not restrict only the freedom of association of an individual, but also the rights and freedom of a the group to associate freely, without any fear”.
That is what the state continues to ignore, the full political weight of Berta’s figure and it therefore maintains the perspective of only considering the events of March 2 in the trial and not seeing the chain of events that sought to stop her work and after not being able to, decided to kill her.
Outside the courts, the acts of racism and stigma towards the organization make it seems that COPINH and Berta are the ones on trial and not the 8 who are being accused. Criminalizing words, biased language and barring members of the organization from entering to witness the hearing of the Lenca people’s leader, are not minor acts.
The date of commencement of trial has been pushed back to September 17 in a climate of heightened hostility, making it clear that the trial will be a great battle in all areas and as such we ask for strong national and international accompaniment and solidarity with COPINH during these days.
With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota, Etempica, Iselaca, we raise our voices full of life, justice, freedom, dignity and peace.