Everyday across the globe, men, women and youth speak out in defence of the land and environment. They defend our planet and thanks to their work, we have clean air to breathe and water to drink.
But in countries such as Guatemala and Honduras, territory, land and environmental rights defenders (TLERDs) are killed and imprisoned because their activism challenges the politicians and companies that want to control the use of their lands and resources.
This September, Amnesty launched “We defend the land with our blood; Territory, Land and Environmental Rights Defenders Under Attack in Honduras and Guatemala”. This report is in advance of a new global campaign on Human Rights Defenders launching in March 2017. The report calls on the governments of Guatemala and Honduras to provide protection for defenders so they can carry out their important work, investigate crimes against them and prosecute those responsible, and publicly state their support for the work of TLERDs.
This work is incredibly dangerous. In March, 2016 beloved and courageous Honduran Indigenous activist Berta Caceres was killed in cold blood in her home because she led a strong campaign to stop a hydroelectric dam from being built without consent on her community’s traditional territory. People she worked with continue to be killed, attacked and threatened.
In July, 2016, seven ancestral Indigenous authorities in north-west Guatemala were released after one and a half years in prison for peacefully protesting a hydroelectric dam project in their own territory; most shockingly, almost all of the community leaders and ancestral authorities in their community who protested peacefully against the project have warrants for their arrests.
The governments of Honduras and Guatemala don’t recognize or protect the rights of territory, land or environmental defenders, nor do they ensure justice when they are attacked. Instead, they allow meritless charges to be brought against defenders and turn a blind eye to public smear campaign against them. These terrible acts of violence and criminalization must be investigated and the guilty prosecuted. Earth defenders’ work is essential, necessary and legitimate and we must raise our voices to support them!
Read the Report: