The Goldman Prize winner community has joined together to issue the following statement in solidarity with fellow Prize recipient Berta Cáceres, following her death last week:
“Berta Cáceres, a Member of our Family, has been Assassinated”
We are the recipients of the Goldman Environmental Prize and come from all corners of the world with the same goal, to protect the Earth and its natural resources. We are saddened and shocked at the death of one our sisters, Berta Cáceres, who was killed defending the land she and her ancestors have occupied for hundreds of years. Our hearts go out to her family and loved ones.
Berta was a member of the indigenous Lenca of Honduras and was devoted to her people and their rights to protect their homes and land from development. She lived her life in service to others with joy and kindness. As Berta said, “This best resistance is joy.” Being with Berta, it was impossible not to love her.
Berta was totally committed to defend the environment and human rights in her country. The organization she founded more than 20 years ago, the Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras (COPINH), was behind numerous struggles against mining and hydroelectric dams in Honduras. They succeeded in stopping large projects financed by international corporations and were attacked and threatened by military forces, para-military groups and corrupt politicians. When developers were blocked, Berta and her colleagues were attacked. Berta now joins eight others from COPINH who were killed before her.
Those who participated in her campaigns can give testimony to another rare quality she had: a woman with no fear at all. Berta was surrounded by threats and bullets, and at times, cars waiting for her in the road with armed men. But she continued to fight for human rights and the environment–women violated by their partners, children with malnutrition, and of course, the problems many of us worked on with her, unsustainable mining and hydroelectric dams. After knowing Berta’s work, it was impossible not to admire her.
Thousands of people from around the world have reacted, honoring Berta’s work and legacy. We cry out for a complete investigation into her murder. And in this moment, we remember the words of our brother who was also killed 20 years ago for fighting oil companies, Ken Saro-Wiwa, as he was about to be put to death: “Oh God, take my soul, but the struggle continues.”
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