Bertha Cáceres Among Those on Honduran Military Hit List
The presence of her mother's name on a Honduran military hit list, alleged recently by a former soldier in a U.S.-trained military police squad, did not come as a surprise to one of slain Lenca Activist Bertha Cáceres daughters, Bertha Zuniga, who asserts that this charge is consistent with prior attacks and persecution.
In a news report published on June 21, a former soldier of Honduras' Inter-Institutional Security Force (known as Fusina) alleged that Cáceres' name, along with other environmentalists in Honduras, appeared on a military hit list.
"We had heard that there was a list at the end of last year and that Mom was on it," Zuniga said in reaction to the news of the hit list.
"We think that this is part of the governments efforts to eliminate the leaders of social movements," she continued. "This reaffirms for us the role of the government in my mothers murder."
Zuniga has spoken about her mother's assassination and the government's role in it before audiences throughout Latin America, Europe, the U.S. and Canada in the last three months.
She asserted that this latest account "shows how high military officials were involved in these plots...and this also shows the need for an independent investigation into the intellectual authors of her assassination as there are many.”
The Honduran authorities responded on June 22, when Honduras Defense Minister Samuel Reyes called the allegations false. Reyes also charged that the story of the former soldier could not be true for a number of reasons including the mention of "a Seventh [Military Police] Battalion which does not exist."
Reyes said the newspaper and the soldier should present their evidence to the "competent authority and that this would help to clarify all that is mentioned."
For Zuniga and thousands of activists around the world, this latest allegation supports their call for an independent investigation into the assassination of Cáceres in March.
On June 15, less than a week before the news of the hit list, activists from 21 countries had gathered together to honor Cáceres work and to push for an independent investigation into her assassination due to the Honduran government and military's alleged role in the event.
Along with U.S. activists staging protests in seven cities, one U.S. Congressman has introduced a bill to apply pressure to the Honduran government.
U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson (D-GA) introduced the “Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act” (H.R. 5474) on the same day of the international demonstrations. The law "would suspend those funds – and prohibit international loans providing for security assistance – from being dispersed unless Honduras makes serious inroads to addressing blatant human rights violations by police and military forces."
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