Statement Condemning The Murder of Lesbia Yaneth Urquia of Honduras

An outpouring of grief at the wake of Lesbia Yaneth Urquia (Photo courtesy of la tribuna)

The IPMSDL condemns in the strongest possible terms the murder of woman indigenous peoples and environmental rights activist Lesbia Yaneth Urquia in Honduras. Urquia’s body was found in a garbage dump the town of Marcala, 160 km west of Honduras’ capital Tegucigalpa on July 7, 2016.

Urquia joins the long list of activists who became victims of extrajudicial killings in Honduras. In March 3, armed men entered the home of Goldman Prize winner Berta Caceres and shot her to death. Less than two weeks later, her fellow activist Nelson Garcia was shot in the face by unidentified men while walking home. The three are all active members of the Honduras-based Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations (Copinh). Copinh has been actively campaigning against the construction of one of the largest hydro-electric dams in Latin America, which will affect the ancestral lands of the Lencan peoples of Honduras. Urquia and the other two are members of the Lencan people.

Honduras is considered one of the deadliest countries for indigenous peoples and environmental rights activists in the world. It is common knowledge in Honduras that most, if not all, of these extrajudicial killings were done by State military agents in cooperation, sometimes at the prodding and funding of, large corporations determined to encroach on indigenous peoples’ ancestral lands.

We are saddened by the loss of a fellow indigenous peoples rights activist, and promise to continue her and other indigenous peoples rights activists’ legacy of militant struggle against anyone, may they be mammoth corporations or murderous State security agents, who threatens our ancestral lands and who choose to take away our right to self determination and our right to our lands.

We strongly urge the Honduran government to:

1. Immediately investigate and prosecute those responsible for the deaths of Urquia, Caceres, Garcia and other victims of extrajudicial killings;
2. Cease all harassment and killings of indigenous peoples rights activists;
3. Respect the right to self determination of the Lencan and other indigenous peoples.

We recommend to the United Nations and the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights to:

1. Increase pressure on governments who continue to violate the rights of indigenous peoples to self determination;
2. Launch an investigation on multi-national companies and governments involved in violations of indigenous peoples rights.

Stop the Killings! End Militarization! Fight Back!

Ms. Beverly Longid
IPMSDL Global Coordinator

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