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Honduran protesters clash with police over activist killing

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Riot police shoot tear gas at students protesting in Tegucigalpa against suspected assassination of indigenous activist Berta Caceres on March 3, 2016. ©AFP

Fresh protests have broken out in Honduras during a mourning ceremony for an indigenous environmental activist who was recently shot dead after receiving numerous death threats.

More than 1,000 people converged on Friday at the memorial service for renowned environmentalist Berta Caceres as her coffin was turned over to her family at a labor union headquarters.

The ceremony, however, turned into a protest rally, with the participants shouting “Justice!”

Reports say clashes erupted between the protesters and security forces, who intervened to disperse the crowd.

The demo came less than a day after rock-throwing students clashed with riot police at the University of Honduras in the capital Tegucigalpa amid outrage over the government’s failure to protect the high-profile activist who had repeatedly been threatened with assassination.

She was shot dead in the early hours of Thursday at her home in the western town of La Esperanza.

A 45-year-old mother of four, Caceres gained prominence for leading the indigenous Lenca people in a struggle against a hydroelectric dam project that would have flooded a massive region of native lands and cut off water supplies to hundreds of local people.

Relatives and friends carry the coffin of murdered indigenous activist Berta Caceres during her funeral in La Esperanza on March 3, 2016. ©AFP

She continued with her efforts against the project despite receiving numerous death threats, winning the 2015 Goldman Environmental Prize.

The family of Caceres has accused government officials of trying to mask her death as a random murder, insisting that she was assassinated due to her efforts against environmental destruction by major mining and hydroelectric companies.

Meanwhile, the Civic Council of Indigenous and People’s Organization (COPINH), which was founded by Caceres, revealed that other members had received death threats from “hit men” allegedly hired by energy company DESA, whose hydroelectric project is being opposed by the group.

“In the past six months, Berta had been the target of constant, intensifying threats, shots fired on her car, and verbal and written threats from the army, the police, the mayor (in the project site) and DESA,” the COPINH said.

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