Indigenous rights defender Berta Cáceres inspired many in her home country of Honduras, and around the world, as she courageously led efforts to stop construction of the Agua Zarca dam on a river not only sacred to the Lenca People, but vital to their survival. Berta was gunned down by contract killers on March 2, 2016.
Bringing to justice everyone responsible for the killing of Berta is vitally important to end the impunity that fuels more killings of forest and water defenders. Front Line Defenders Global Analysis 2019 reports that 31 other defenders were killed in Honduras last year.
Pressure from inside and outside Honduras is making a difference but more is needed!
In December 2019, seven men were sentenced to between 30 and 50 years in jail for their role in carrying out the assassination of Berta. Her organization COPINH has recognized the importance of activism by Amnesty Canada supporters. Read more in this blog about what we have helped to achieve together.
Berta’s organization and her family have asked us to continue our efforts, in the hope of ensuring those who gave the orders and paid for the killing of Berta are brought to account.
Messages from Canada carry weight, says Berta’s daughter Bertha Zúniga Cáceres, who courageously carries on the work her mother led to defend Indigenous rights and the environment.
1. Learn More
Watch the following inspiring short videos to learn more about Berta Cáceres, the struggle for which she was killed, and what her daughters want us to know about the importance of coming together to carry on Berta’s work for human rights and the environment.
- Berta Cáceres Flores: In Her Own Words – 3:15 minutes
- The Goldman Foundation’s video about why they awarded Berta the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize – 4:47 minutes
- Berta’s inspiring speech when she accepted the Goldman Environmental Prize – 3:20 minutes
- Berta’s daughters Laura and Bertha Isabel speak about their mother and the importance of Canadian support for their efforts to achieve justice and continue Berta’s work – 2:52 minutes
2. Sign the E-Action
If you haven’t already, please sign the e-action here and also found at the bottom of this page. Please encourage friends to sign too by sharing on social media. Remember that expressions of concern from Canada have already helped to bring to justice those who carried out the murder of Berta. Berta’s family and organization are counting on us to keep up the pressure in order to bring to justice the masterminds behind the murder and stop the green light for more violence against earth defenders.
3. Social Media Advocacy
Honduran authorities use twitter and are mindful of their international image. Tweet your call to them from Canada for action to bring to justice the masterminds behind the killing of Berta. You can use this image and add symbols and words to turn it into a personal message of support for the cause of Berta and other Earth Defenders in Honduras.
Be sure to use the hashtag #JusticaParaBerta. Also be sure to tag Berta’s organization COPINH and Honduran authorities, as in the sample tweet below.
Mar 2 marks 4 years since the killing of water and #Indigenous rights defender #BertaCaceres. From Canada in solidarity with @COPINHHONDURAS, I call on @MP_Honduras @ofchb to identify & bring to justice those who ordered & paid for this crime. #JusticiaParaBerta #BertaMultiplicó pic.twitter.com/bWVmBz9Vht
— Kathy Price (@KPriceAmnesty) February 21, 2020
4. Art and Activism
This past March, groups of activists in Regina, Ottawa, Stratford, Timmins, St. Mary’s and Toronto met to watch video footage of Berta Cáceres and then worked together to create individual and joint messages of support for Berta’s organization and its efforts to seek justice. Each participant shared photos of their artwork on their individual and the group’s social media channels, together with a link to our Justice for Berta online petition. Below are some photos of what happened in the different locations.
IN ST. MARY’S AND STRATFORD … a poetry circle and a group of textile artists came together for a series of meetings that resulted in the creation of a collaborative poem and a beautiful banner inspired by the words of Berta. They carried the banner through their community to attract attention and once social isolation ends, they plan to hang the banner at community events where they will collect signatures for Justice for Berta and the protection of other threatened earth defenders.
“The Art Build in Stratford/St Mary’s was a testament to the power of small groups,” says participant and textile artist Alizon Sharun. “Our sessions were creative, productive and enjoyable, bringing together people who did not all know each other, and were not all aware of Berta’s case. We left knowing much more and wanting to work together again. The poetry group is embarking on another collaborative poem.”
IN OTTAWA … members of the local Amnesty group and youth organizers added colour, symbols and personal messages to black and white artwork with the evocative words ‘BERTA MULTIPLIED’. Those words are used in Honduras to signal to the authorities that killing Berta did not stop the struggle to protect water and life in Lenca territory. Participants of the art-build in Ottawa took photos with their finished images to share on social media. Then they created a banner with all of the images arranged around the words JUSTICE FOR BERTA. This banner will be used at future activism events and at a handover over of petitions and post cards to the Honduran Embassy.
IN TORONTO … members of our Business and Human Rights/Indigenous Issues team worked together to paint a banner to support the defenders who continue Berta’s work.
“Deciding on artistic elements of the banner forced us to take a more critical approach to our work,” reflects National Youth Organizer Shantel Watson. “We looked for symbols that we believed represented the struggles of Honduran Land and Water Defenders while communicating our solidarity with the Lenca People appropriately. This focused work was a great opportunity to engage more closely with members of our network.”
Another group of activists IN TORONTO gathered to create tree hangings.
“The tree of life is symbolic of Berta’s life and legacy,” reflected Micah Molina of the AI Toronto Action Network for Women’s Human Rights (ANWHR). “It is fitting that we macramed the trees with recycled material. Then we talked about how we could utilize the tree hangings at future human rights events. I thought this was a fantastic way to pay homage to Berta, call for justice through art, and build community.”
Karen Castillo, of the National Organizers Program, had this to say: “I was thinking about Berta and her daughters and hoping that our weavings would let the community know they are not alone. I have always felt that art is one of the most powerful and beautiful ways of doing activism.”
ANWHR activist Saba Abbas agreed: “For me, working on the macramé tree of life helped me find hope in the face of a tragic loss such as that of Berta. The beauty of art is that it brings the community together and sensitizes us to painful human right violations without weighing us down or making us lose hope.”
IN TIMMINS … a small but dedicated group led by long-time activist Anita Spadafore literally got hands-on, creating heartfelt messages in English and Spanish on brightly coloured paper hands. The idea was to create something eye-catching, symbolic and easy to transport to Honduras for delivery to Berta’s family and organization. This installation can be hung anywhere, using bright twine. Anita called the local newspaper ahead of the art-build and convinced a reporter to write a story about why people in Timmins were taking action for a far-away human rights defender and her rural community. Once self-isolation measures are lifted, the Timmins group plans to organize another art-build with local students, building on past experiences creating Butterflies for the families of the disappeared in Mexico and blue river messages for land and water defenders in Guatemala.
IN REGINA … members of the University of Regina Amnesty group took inspiration from Berta and from the young activists who took part in the Ottawa art build. They used the BERTA MULTIPLIED image to create their own messages of shared cause with water defenders under attack in Honduras. The students posted their images on social media to attract online attention. Their art work was used to create an eye-catching display on campus and encourage other students to come over to sign petitions and post cards.
“When we were invited to organize an art-build to mobilize action for Justice for Berta, we weren’t sure what an art-build was all about!” admits student Kathryn Beatrice Bermudez. “But our group was up for giving it a try. The creative approach was great. Lots of people responded.”
5. Post Card Action (postponed until stay-at-home restrictions are lifted)
Do you have connections at your library, a local school, place of worship or elsewhere in your community where you could set up a table and gather signatures on our post card action?
Our goal is to show Honduran authorities that thousands of Canadians are watching and raising their voices with Berta’s organization COPINH to demand that those who ordered the killing of Berta are brought to justice.
Download display posters for your table from these links: Berta poster, Canadian voices carry weight in Honduras poster, Words of Berta’s daughter Laura poster, Attacks continue against defenders who continue Berta’s work poster.