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Another COPINH Leader, Defender of Indigenous Communities and Rivers, Assassinated

Lesbia Yaneth Urquía Urquía, Presente!

With heavy hearts, Grassroots International mourns the death of Lesbia Yaneth Urquía Urquía, a member of COPINH (Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras), who was brutally killed on July 6, just 4 months after the assassination of Berta Cáceres. Lesbia Yaneth defended the rights of Indigenous communities and opposed the privatization of rivers in La Paz, Honduras. Since the 2009 military coup in Honduras, over 100 environmental activists (including Indigenous Peoples, peasant leaders, and more) have been killed, and thousands criminalized and jailed.

Below is a translation of a statement by COPINH after Lesbia Yaneth’s murder, calling it out as a « political femicide, seeking to silence the voices of women who courageously and bravely defend their rights against the patriarchal, racist and capitalist system, which bring us increasingly closer to the destruction of our planet. »

We send our love and solidarity to Lesbia Yaneth’s family and to all of COPINH. Grassroots International reaffirms our long-term commitment to solidarity with Honduran movements for justice. We oppose the role that the US government has played in recognizing and giving legitimacy to the coup government, and join with many others around the country in the call for an end to US military aid to Honduras.

Lesbia Yaneth Urquía Urquía, Presente!

COPINH’s statement on the assassination of compañera Lesbia Yaneth Urquía Urquía.

The Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) regretfully informs the national and international community of the assassination of our compañera Lesbia Yaneth Urquía Urquía, aged 49, and the mother of two daughters and a son, from the municipality of Marcala, La Paz.

Since the 2009 coup, our comrade Lesbia Yaneth was a prominent COPINH community leader and was an active defender of common natural resources.  She also fought for indigenous rights and against the construction of the hydroelectric dam, Aurora I, in the city of San Jose, La Paz, a project that is directly linked to the president of the National Party and the vice president of the National Congress, Gladys Aurora Lopez.

Lesbia Yaneth was a passionate defender of the community’s rights and strongly opposed the privatization of rivers in the Department of La Paz.

The murder of Lesbia Yaneth suspiciously happened during the “consultation” stage that the Honduran government was conducting around the adoption of a draft law to regulate the mechanism of Free, Prior and Informed Consent (FPIC) of Indigenous communities, to which we Indigenous communities are entitled because of the legitimacy of our history [as Indigenous Peoples] and [guaranteed by] Convention 169 of the International Labour Organization (ILO). These meetings where the government intends to promote this draft law were held in the municipality of Marcala on July 4th and 5th.

This murder occurred 4 months and 4 days after the murder of our leader, Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores, and confirms the implementation of a plan to disappear those who are organized within COPINH to defend common natural resources.

Lesbia Yaneth’s death is a political femicide, seeking to silence the voices of women who courageously and bravely defend their rights against the patriarchal, racist and capitalist system, which bring us increasingly closer to the destruction of our planet.

We hold the Honduran government, led by Juan Orlando Hernandez, the military and police forces, and all government institutions that must protect all human rights defenders and the rights of nature responsible for this assassination, in the same way as Mrs. Gladys Aurora López and her husband Arnold Castro for being a permanent source of threats and conflicts [to advance] the construction of hydroelectric projects in the department of La Paz.

COPINH demands an end to the assassinations of its members and that justice be carried out to find the perpetrators of the murder of Lesbia Yaneth and Berta Cáceres, so these crimes do not go unpunished.

We accompany the family of our compañera in their deep sorrow.

July 6th, La Esperanza, Intibucá.

With the ancestral strength of Berta, Lempira, Mota, Etempica, Iselaca, we raise our voices full of life, justice, freedom, dignity and peace.

¡Lesbia Yaneth vive, la lucha sigue!

¡Berta vive, la lucha sigue!

Lesbia Yaneth lives, the struggle continues!

Berta lives, the struggle continues!