Ask Your Rep. To Co-Sponsor The Re-Introduced Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act!
March 2nd marks the one-year anniversary of the assassination of Berta Cáceres, the beloved Honduran Indigenous and environmental rights leader. Witness for Peace continues to demand justice for her brutal, politically-motivated murder. Although eight arrests have been made in the case, the investigation has been riddled with irregularities (including the theft of the case files), and evidence suggests that the intellectual authors of the crime remain at large. Moreover, Berta’s family and COPINH, the organization she co-founded, have been intentionally kept in the dark about the ongoing proceedings against her killers.
Revelations have surfaced that two Honduran soldiers arrested for the murder received U.S. training, that the assassination was possibly planned and coordinated by the Honduran military, and that Berta was actually on a military hitlist. These, alongside the continued murder, harassment, and criminalization of resistance that have occurred in the last twelve months, show a Honduran government that has, with U.S. backing, continued to use violent state power to repress movements like Berta’s. Moreover, the Honduran armed forces have continued to brutalize Lenca communities in the name of an exploitative model of extractive industry. There can be no discussion of justice in Berta Cáceres’s assassination until these policies end.
With the election of Donald Trump, and especially Trump’s appointment of Gen. John Kelly--who supports military aid to/militarization of Honduras--as Director of Homeland Security, the voices of opposition to U.S. support for these perpetrators of grotesque human rights abuses are more important than ever. The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act is set to be reintroduced in this new Congress, and we need your support in securing sponsors for the bill.
Last year, fifty-two Representatives co-sponsored the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, a landmark bill introduced by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) in the House of Representatives in June 2016, with immediate and broad support including the AFL-CIO, the Sierra Club, Witness for Peace, and over a hundred other faith, labor, environmental, and human rights organizations. Berta's family and organization COPINH, immediately applauded the action and praised the leadership of these Members of Congress.
The bill states: "The Honduran police are widely established to be deeply corrupt and to commit human rights abuses, including torture, rape, illegal detention, and murder, with impunity” and that the military has committed violations of human rights. Therefore, the bill asks that the United States suspend all “...security assistance to Honduran military and police until such time as human rights violations by Honduran state security forces cease and their perpetrators are brought to justice.”
Please call your Representative NOW, asking for their Foreign Policy Aide! Because the bill is being re-introduced, all of the bill’s co-sponsors will need to co-sponsor again! If your representative has not yet signed, call them and ask them to add their support as a sponsor of the bill!
Script: “My name is _____. I'm a constituent from (your town/city) in (your state), and I'm calling to ask Rep. _____ to co-sponsor H.R. 1299, The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, calling for a suspension of U.S. security aid to Honduras until human rights violations committed by the Honduran security forces cease. Has Rep. _______ seen this bill? Can I count on him/her to sign on? Please call me this week at (your phone number) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Rep. _____ will sign it.”
If they HAVE signed last year's version of the bill, you can use this script:
“My name is _____. I'm a constituent from (your town/city) in (your state), and I’m calling to thank Rep. _____ for her/his leadership co-sponsoring The Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, and ask her/him to co-sponsor the legislation again, which was just re-introduced as H.R. 1299. Even though arrests have been made in the case, the investigation has been riddled with irregularities, and evidence suggests that those who ordered Berta's murder remain at large. Can I count on him/her to sign on again? Please call me this week at (your phone number) to let me know if you have seen the bill, and if Rep. _____ will sign again as a co-sponsor.”
In your phone conversation, please highlight why this bill is important to you, especially if you have traveled to Honduras or heard a Honduran speaker in your community. And please share this action widely!