from International Rivers

Lenca_COPINH_banner_620x275On Monday, July 15th, indigenous Lenca leader Tomás Garcia was killed and his son Alan was seriously wounded when members of the Honduran Army indiscriminately shot at people protesting the Agua Zarca Dam without any provocation or warning.

Since April 1st of this year, the Lenca community of Rio Blanco has been actively resisting construction of the Agua Zarca Dam by blocking entrance to the construction site and demanding an end to a project in their territory about which they were not consulted. Monday marked the 106th day of resistance. During this time community members have faced harassment and received numerous death threats; the area is occupied by the military, police and armed men.

Tomás was a Lenca indigenous leader who was active on local and national indigenous councils, as well as the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). Berta Caceres, leader of COPINH, spoke out about Tomás’ death, saying: “The community is outraged. We are in great sorrow, but believe we have to continue our struggle. We will continue fighting, we are not afraid, we will not fall prey to fear, and we will continue this peaceful but strong battle for life.”

The Agua Zarca Dam is being developed by Honduran company Desarrollos Energéticos Sociedad Anónima (DESA) and built by Chinese dam builder Sinohydro. In clear violation of ILO Convention 169 on The Rights of Indigenous Peoples, the companies and the government of Honduras have ignored their legal obligation to consult the Lenca community of Rio Blanco about the Agua Zarca Dam, which would threaten their livelihoods and culture.

In solidarity with the Lenca community, please take action to call for the de-militarization of the Rio Blanco community and justice for Tomás, and remind the Honduran government, DESA and Sinohydro of their legal responsibility to respect the rights of indigenous people, abide by international laws that protect these rights, and consult indigenous people about projects that affect them.