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Environmental Human Rights: News & Updates
July 22, 2021
Cleveland friends Mary Kelsey (illustrator) and Steve Cagan (photographer) have been traveling to El Chocó, Colombia, for the past several years, documenting the impacts of mechanized gold mining. They currently have an exhibit of their illustrations and photographs at the Cleveland Botanical Garden, running through August 15. This Thursday, July 22, 6-9pm, we invite you to join them for a conversation about “The Price of a Rainforest in Gold.”
July 14, 2021
Roberto David Castillo – who was trained in the U.S. and was a former member of the Honduran army during a coup in 2009 – was convicted on July 5, 2021 of being a co-conspirator in the assassination of world renowned Indigenous environmentalist Berta Cáceres. On August 2, he will be sentenced, which could be between 24 and 30 years. In the US Congress, companion legislation being considered in the House and Senate would suspend support for the Honduran government until corruption and human rights abuses are no longer systemic. A separate bill in the House, HR 1574, the "Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act," would stop U.S. assistance to the Honduran police or military. "Berta was of the generation that understood profoundly what militarization did. The bill really speaks to her legacy and efforts to end militarization and funding for the military," said Suyapa Portillo Villeda, a Honduran historian and associate professor at Pitzer College.
June 30, 2021
Please see a summary of the letters we sent to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, Guatemala, and Honduras, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries. We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: (1) protect people living under threat, (2) demand investigations into human rights crimes, and (3) bring human rights criminals to justice. IRTF’s Rapid Response Network (RRN) volunteers write six letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn , or ask us to mail you hard copies.
June 23, 2021
We wrote to the Supreme Court of Justice of Honduras regarding the current trial of David Castillo, charged with the March 2, 2016 assassination of indigenous environmental defender Berta Cáceres. The extensive and detailed evidence submitted in this trial (and related prosecutions) demonstrates that David Castillo was part of a criminal structure that engaged in a range of crimes, including financial crimes and violence. Besides his trial for the murder of Berta Cáceres, David Castillo is also one of six people awaiting trial for corruption charges related to the construction of the Agua Zarca project. We urging that authorities in Honduras: (1) ensure that the judges overseeing the trial of David Castillo’s be able to make their decision without pressure from powerful actors interested in swaying the verdict and obscuring the truth about the intellectual authors of this crime; and (2) ensure that COPINH (Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras) be permitted to be included in any future legal proceedings involving David Castillo and DESA, as is their right under Honduran law
Needs Improvement: Amnesty International Progress Report on the Biden Administration Making the U.S. a Safe Refuge
June 17, 2021
A June 2021 report from Amnesty International showed the Biden administration needs improvement on making the U.S. a safe refuge.
Guatemala: Legal actions to achieve the definitive suspension of the Fenix mining operation in El Estor
June 17, 2021
Thank you to Rights Action for this news piece.
May 28, 2021
Please see a summary of the six letters we sent to heads of state and other high-level officials in Colombia, El Salvador, and Honduras, urging their swift action in response to human rights abuses occurring in their countries. We join with civil society groups in Latin America to: -protect people living under threat -demand investigations into human rights crimes -bring human rights criminals to justice IRTF’s Rapid Response Network volunteers write letters in response to urgent human rights cases each month. We send copies of these letters to US ambassadors, embassy human rights officers, the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, regional representatives of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, and desk officers at the US State Department. To read the letters, see https://www.irtfcleveland.org/content/rrn, or ask us to mail you hard copies.
Environmental Human Rights: Biden Just Killed Funding for a Controversial Dam Trump Tried to Build in Honduras
May 27, 2021
After years of organizing by environmental defense groups in Honduras--and solidarity actions by groups in the US and Canada--the US government withdrew financial support this week from a proposed Río Jilamito dam in Honduras that is at the center of a simmering conflict between local residents and developers. Two opponents of the project have been killed. The decision by the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation, (DFC), which provides funding for private-sector projects, marked a victory for the activist groups in Honduras and the United States that had urged the agency to drop the project.
May 16, 2021
Five thousand members of the Indigenous Tolupán community of Agalteca in Yoro Department are being threatened with eviction. Tolupán lands contain precious resources, such as mahogany forests, silver, and iron oxide. To seize those resources, those with economic interests carry out attempts at forcible evictions (some successful). As a consequence of government concessions to mining companies over the past eight years, Tolupán communities have experienced an increase in evictions, as well as destruction of their land and waterways. Those who resist outside encroachment on their ancestral territories suffer attacks, murders, and judicial harassment. Over the past twenty years, forty Tolupán community members have been murdered.
May 14, 2021
The National Electric Power Company (ENEE) has been granting licenses to private companies to construct thermoelectric generation plants without the prior consultation and consent of impacted populations. In Baracoa, the National Police broke up a demonstration of residents along highway CA-13 by firing tear gas canisters at the residents. Residents are also concerned that they will not be given the opportunity to attend town meetings at which final approval for the electric generation plant will be given. Residents near other thermoelectric plants in Honduras face health risks from being exposed to constant emissions from turbines, including emissions from fuels so toxic that they are banned in other countries.