Good morning. I would like to thank the authorities who are listening to us.
I'm going to speak a bit about the situation that we are experiencing in Honduras by human rights defenders and indigenous peoples who have been subject to the violation of our rights as first peoples. In 2009, since the coup d'état, a great number of laws were passed that did not meet the parameters demanded by international treaties such as convention 169 of the ILO. The mining and energy law was approved as well as what we call decree 21 of 2012, and a number of laws have been enacted in our country that have disturbed and affected our interests as first peoples. When these laws come into effect, that is when we see conflicts and problems in our territories. When we demand, for example, that we do not want hydroelectric projects or mining projects or any projects that take away or cede our common goods, that is when those of us who are defenders face great dangers. As our friend Bertha said, we are persecuted. We are criminalized. Our fellow defenders are also murdered, as was the case with the killing of her mother, Berta Cáceres.
As well, in the case of the organization MILPAH, we've had many problems. We've lost a number of our colleagues. Javier Vásquez was one of them. He was a very talented young man, only 17 years old, who was murdered, and we don't yet know.... His death is still unpunished and it's still in impunity.
Due to that danger we faced, we were forced to request that the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights issue precautionary measures, and they were granted to a number of us. Right now 16 of us at MILPAH are under precautionary measures issued by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and some were adopted more recently via this mechanism.
What is the state doing with our fellow indigenous defenders who are in this situation? Well, very little, frankly. In my case, we are experiencing a very difficult situation. I'm under precautionary measures but the state simply sends in a patrol car that's broken down. Nobody is monitoring our lives. Maybe once a month a patrol car that is terribly broken down will drive around our house. That's what we get. When you see government officials, they have escorts with 40 patrols and a crowd of police motorcycles, and we are protected by a broken-down patrol car once a month.
A law was approved for providing protection to human rights defenders. But this law also contemplates that police officers will receive protection in the same manner. It covers journalists, but in the end the state is doing very little. It's very limited and it's useless, in fact, to have this law. For me it would be much easier if the state would simply withdraw those laws that are affecting our territories rather than having these meagre protection measures, because when our indigenous fellow defenders and other non-indigenous defenders start defending their territories, we know there will be more and more people protesting and then having to be subjected to these precautionary measures. Are we going to put every Honduran under a precautionary measure? It would be easier if the government would simply remove these laws that are infringing on our rights.
We've also had problems, as was the case with Ana Mirian Romero, a fellow defender, Felicita, and other women fellow defenders whose rights were infringed. For example, Ana Romero was beaten by 20 police officers and 10 members of the army and she was seven months' pregnant at the time. She was physically attacked by army and police officers. She was hospitalized for more than two weeks in order to save her life and that of her daughter.
We filed a report before the deputy attorney general for human rights in Honduras, and they passed the case over to the Special prosecutor's office for ethnic and cultural heritage. They are basically giving us the runaround from one government office to another because state agents were involved in that violation, and they simply want to have us forget about it.
We've had so many problems, along with our fellow defenders, due to these projects that have been imposed on our lands. What we are trying to say is that we don't want any problems. We simply don't want these projects here. They're talking about development projects, but Honduras, as you know, is in a state of terror. It is as if we are living in a state of war.
If you look at Honduras, and you follow the news, you will see that people are dying very frequently and they say, this is common crime, but we can't sleep peacefully at night like we used to. Our families, our wives.... When my daughters go off to school I am left so worried about what could happen to them because the people who are against us have no qualms about attacking our relatives.
I am here today with you, the Canadian authorities, with my thanks, but also to ask you to raise your voices in our country about the need for our rights to be respected as indigenous persons and, as we've heard, the right that we have to free, prior, and informed consultation be respected, and that the international treaty be applied so that we can stop suffering this unease.
We also ask you for your support, and perhaps Canada may have some influence. I know that each country has its own laws, which must be enforced, but if there are any treaties that you know of that are being infringed on by our country—investment treaties that will lead to hydroelectric projects or mining projects—we ask that the law be respected. That's all we're asking for.