Cristina Auerbach’s journey as a human rights defender began when an explosion in February 2006 inside the Pasta de Conchos mine in northern Mexico’s state of Coahuila trapped 65 miners. As the company owning the mine abandoned the search and rescue of the bodies, and authorities failed to be held accountable for the breaches in the mine’s safety standards, Auerbach took up the task of demanding justice for the victims’ relatives and campaign for the recovery of the bodies, all but two of which remain buried underground.
On the October 20 in Tegucigalpa members of COPINH and other civil society organisations held a peaceful demonstration outside of the Public Prosecutors’ office to demand transparency and justice in the case of the murder of Berta Cáceres. The demonstrators faced violent repression by the police forces present. Police fired water cannon and tear gas at the protesters. Hundreds of people were affected by tear gas fumes as they attempted to flee the scene. Those who found themselves within the reach of the security forces were kicked and beaten with batons.
In April 2016 Padre Alberto Franco and Jani Silva, Colombian human rights defenders, visited London as part of a Europe wide speaker tour organised by PBI.
Father Alberto Franco is the executive secretary of the human rights NGO Inter-Church Justice and Peace Commission (CIJP). The work of the CIJP focuses on the field accompaniment Afro-Colombian, indigenous and peasant farmer communities.
PBI calls on the Mexican Government to take the actions required to guarantee the security of Cristina Auerbach and the Pasta de Conchos Family Organization
Mexico City, 31 March 2016.– Due to the recent intimitadion and slander suffered by the Human Rights Defender Cristina Auerbach, PBI calls on the Mexican Government to take the actions required to guarantee her security and the one of the other members of the Pasta de Conchos Family Organization. Likewise, PBI requests Mexican authorities to publicly recognise the legitimate work carried out by the Organisation.
In March 2016 Pedro Sicá, Guatemalan indigenous leader, visited London as part of a Europe wide speaker tour organised by PBI. Pedro is an indigenous Maya K’iche’ leader of the Cunén Community Council (CCC), a community organization for the defence of the land, natural resources and human rights. In the area of Cunén and northern Quiché, there are many social conflicts around hydroelectric projects, mining and high-voltage electricity pylons. PBI began accompanying CCC in 2010 due to the security risks faced by human rights defenders actively promoting the right to land, territory and natural resources in the region.
Networks and organizations across the Americas and Europe issue a statement condemning the assassination of the Honduran human rights activist Berta Cáceres.
Berta Cáceres, Lenca indigenous leader and coordinator of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) was murdered yesterday at her residence in La Esperanza, Intibucá, Honduras. While expressing its deepest condolences to her family, civil society urges the Honduran authorities to invest all necessary resources to investigate, prosecute, punish those responsible and take appropriate remedy measures, including publicly dignifying the memory of Berta. The international community, the statement reads, should also “take all necessary measures to ensure that the Honduran State fulfill its human rights obligations.”
An independent report is now available on the human rights situation of the indigenous Ch’orti’ communities in the Chiquimula region of Guatemala. The report was prepared by an expert legal delegation on the request of Guatemalan NGO Nuevo Día, which informs and supports rural communities on issues relating to the rural economy and environment. A large part of Nuevo Día’s work involves providing support and legal representation to Ch’orti’ communities who are opposing the construction of hydroelectric projects on their ancestral land.