Left MEPs back Berta Cáceres and Guapinol activists for Sakharov Prize
The Left group in the European Parliament has nominated late Honduran activist Berta Cáceres and the water defenders of Guapinol for the European Parliament’s annual Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought.
Berta Cáceres was a courageous ecologist and human rights defender from the indigenous Lenka community in Honduras before she was assassinated in March 2016. Cáceres was co-founder of COPINH (Council of Indigenous People of Honduras). For over two decades she resisted land grabs, illegal logging and mega-projects such as the Agua Zarca hydro projects for which she was murdered.
The Guapinol environmental defenders*, members of the Municipal Committee in Defense of Common and Public Goods of Tocoa, have been in detention without charge for over a year and awaiting trial for protesting against the actions of a mining company that contaminated the Guapinol and San Pedro rivers. Their judicial process has been riddled with irregularities and there are concerns about their welfare because of the overcrowded conditions during the pandemic.
MEP Miguel Urbán (Anticapitalistas, Spain) said the nomination may bring attention to their cases, the imperative of fair treatment and the need for justice for the struggles they represent:
“Berta Cáceres and the political prisoners of Guapinol represent all the defenders of land and territories and indigenous peoples. They exemplify how a state and economic powers use networks of cumplicity to criminalise grassroots organisations such as COPINH and COPA (Coordinadora de Organizaciones Populares de Guapinol) and murder activists such as Berta Cáceres, for the benefit of transnational capital.
“To defend land and territories is to fight against the extractive policies that international capitalism has assigned to Central America. To take action against climate change is to support and protect those who fight for its conservation,” Urbán concluded.