Category Archives: indigenous resistance

OFRANEH: ALERT, April 7: Eviction in the Garifuna community of Punta Gorda, Roatan

ALERT: Eviction in the Garifuna community of Punta Gorda, Roatan.

At the request of the Military Social Security Institute [Instituto de Prevision Militar, IPM, which owns several businesses], agents from the Ministry of Security are right now carrying out an eviction in the island community of Punta Gorda, Roatan.

The more than 40 families that are being violently evicted live in the neighbourhood known as Punta Gorda, located in the community of the same name. It is outrageous that that while the State of Honduras boasts about a policy of inclusion and makes an ostentatious show of its celebration of the International Year of Afro-Descendants, the armed forces order the Ministry of Security to carry out an eviction.

As Garifuna, we find ourselves suffering a second expulsion from the Caribbean. In just a few days, on April 12th, the arrival of our People to Honduras will be commemorated, specifically marking our arrival to the island of Roatan, after our forced displacement by the British from the island of Saint Vincent in 1797.

The pressures on our territory that our People suffer are rooted in the speculation by the tourism industry. Projects such as Banana Coast, Laguna de Micos, and in a not-so-distant future the so-called Model City have precipitated an onslaught of evictions in Punta Gorda and in the majority of coastal communities, which are the aim of businesspeople, politicians and armed forces, taking advantage of the vast judicial void that exists in Honduras.

Since the coup d’etat in 2009, the pressures on Garifuna territory have intensified. The eviction in Punta Gorda is part of the “Christian humanism” of the current administration, which uses violence in an attempt to impose its vision of a “democracy” of the few associated with the party in power.

The Garifuna of Punta Gorda lack a land deed for their territory, despite dancing to the tune of numerous governmental administrations over the years – administrations that tend to celebrate the anniversary of our arrival to Honduras in Punta Gorda with rituals of power.

How will the State of Honduras and its kindred organizations explain this eviction at the Afro-Descendant summit they plan to hold this August? Basta Ya – enough! – of the expulsion of the Garifuna People of Honduras.

La Ceiba, April 7, 2011.

OFRANEH

Organización Fraternal Negra Hondureña, OFRANEH
Tel: (504) 4420618, (504) 4500058
Av 14 julio, calle 19, Contiguo Vivero Flor Tropical, Barrio Alvarado, La Ceiba, Honduras
email: garifuna@ofraneh.org, ofraneh@yahoo.com

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Banging the Drums of Resistance to the Repression, by Karen Spring

BANGING THE DRUMS OF RESISTANCE TO THE REPRESSION

(by Karen Spring, spring.kj@gmail.com)

 

On March 28th, Miriam was shot by police in the stomach with tear gas canisters, illegally detained and threatened, during a peaceful road occupation to reject the privatization of public education being carried out by the military-backed Honduran regime.

 

Three days after her release, and still recuperating, Miriam was present in Tegucigalpa marching with the Garifuna people.

 

garif - 1

(Miriam Miranda, Tegucigalpa, April 1, 2011. All photos: Karen Spring)

 

(From a speech by Miriam Miranda, Coordinator of OFRANEH (Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras), on the streets of Tegucigalpa, April 1, 2011)

 

“Today we are here, present in the capital, not just so people can watch us dance. We do not want to maintain this idea that Garifuna are only useful to dance. As well, we will not be used to help legitimize a government that carried out a coup d’etat.

 

“We are here as Garifuna so we can make visible the problems of the Garifuna people. So that people will realize, on a national and international level, that the Garifuna people are here to reclaim their historical rights.

 

“We are here on the 1st of April, inaugurating the International Year of the Afro-descendents named by the United Nations.

 

“Today we can say that we are facing the second expulsion of our territories, that is why we’re here.

 

“The Garifuna people have inhabited Honduras and resisted for more than 214 years. It is not true that we are just able to dance. That is why we are here. We are here with our identity, our spirituality, our culture, because we have a culture of resistance. Even before a system that wants to eliminate all of the value of our culture. All the value that we are as Garifuna people. We are proud to be Garifuna. The Garifuna culture is a culture of milleniums. The Garifuna people just like the Lenca people, Pech, Mosquito, and Tolipan, all the indigenous and black peoples, we have been resisting against a monoculture, one culture that they are trying to create and say that we are.

 

“We are here to say that we are not interested in speaking with [President] Pepe Lobo because he is not in charge. We want to tell the world that yes, we are present. We do not want them to receive us in the Presidential House … when he [Pepe Lobo} will not dialogue with the teachers. When he is repressing the people. Because of this we are here to say we are present!”

 

THE MARCH OF THE DRUMS; 214 YEARS OF ANCESTRAL RESISTANCE; 2011 INTERNATIONAL YEAR OF AFRO-DESCENDENTS

 

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“The sounds of our drums are symbols of resistance.” (Garifuna doctor, Luther Castillo)

 

In Honduras, April is a month of celebration for the Garifuna people. To inaugurate the African Heritage Month during the International Year of Afro-Descendents and 214 years since the Garifuna people arrived in Honduras (forcibly brought here by [British] imperialists carrying out an ethnic cleansing on the island now known as San Vincent), roughly 2000 Garifuna people and 214 drums were brought from various communities on the north coast and Bay Islands of Honduras to Tegucigalpa last Friday, April 1st.

 

garif - 3

 

From the National Teaching University to the Central Park, the Garifuna community – joined by Lenca indigenous members of COPINH (Council of Indigenous and Popular Organizations of Honduras) – marched with 214 drums, many maracas while singing and dancing in the streets of the capital city.

 

garif - 4

 

But as Garifuna doctor, Luther Castillo said to the crowd, “We commemorate [the African heritage month] but we have nothing to celebrate.” With many colourful written banners carried on the streets of Tegucigalpa, the Garifuna demonstrated the various threats to their culture and survival. All reasons why it’s difficult for the Garifuna to celebrate as they are facing “a second expulsion from their territory.”

 

Banners read:

 

* The Plundering of Garifuna land and Territory is racism

* In the International Year of Afro-descendents, the Robbery of African and Latin American Lands has Intensified

* The Hydroelectric Dam Decrees are Unconstitutional: We Demand the Right to Consultation

* We Demand Integral Agrarian Reform: No to Facusse-landia

* The Municipalization of Education, Water & Indigenous Land is Privatization

 

+ + + + + + + + + + +

Source:

Honduras Military-backed Regime & Impunity Watch

Rights Action – April 6, 2011

 

 

  • Please re-post and distribute this information, citing author & source
  • To get on/ off Rights Action’s listserv: www.rightsaction.org
  • To support Honduras’ Pro-democracy movement: [contact Rights Action]

FOR MORE INFORMATION, ENGLISH & ESPANOL

Annie Bird, annie@rightsaction.org

Grahame Russell, info@rightsaction.org

Karen Spring, in Tegucigalpa, spring.kj@gmail.com, 011 [504] 9507-3835

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[en] Annie Bird: Indigenous Communities Defend Their Rivers Against Privatizations

 

HONDURAN COUP AUTHORS POISED TO PILLAGE INDIGENOUS TERRITORY AND NATIONAL ENERGY COMPANY

by Annie Bird, Rights Action co-director, October 13, 2010

Honduran indigenous communities resist illegal concession of rivers for dams while the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) violates its charter and international law in supporting the projects

FORTY ONE DAM CONCESSIONS THREATEN INDIGENOUS COMMUNITIES

On the “Day of Indigenous Resistance”, indigenous communities across Honduras demanded respect for their fundamental rights, affirming the government’s obligation to obtain their free, prior and informed consent when implementing projects that affect their communities.

Honduran communities and many nations in the Hemisphere do not recognize the legitimacy of the current government, imposed following the June 28, 2009 military coup and then the November 27, 2009 illegitimate election.

Despite the precarious situation of the Honduras regime and state, in international law, on September 2nd and 3rd laws were passed that conceded use Honduran rivers to private corporations for the construction of 41 hydroelectric dams.

Many of these dams would affect indigenous communities.  While none of these communities have been consulted, as international law prescribes, many communities, both indigenous and not, have declared their express opposition to the projects in community assemblies, the maximum traditional indigenous authority, and in municipal referendums.

THE CALL TO THE CONSTITUENT ASSEMBLY OF INDIGENOUS PEOPLES AND BLACKS

The complete disregard for indigenous rights by the military coup authors was demonstrated earlier this year by the Honduran National Council of Private Enterprise (COHEP) in its call on the ‘de facto’ regime to withdraw from the International Labor Organization’s Covenant 169, a key instrument in initially establishing a framework for the recognition of indigenous rights.

Indigenous peoples from across Honduras met on October 3 in Garifuna territory to articulate a response to the assault to which they are being subjected, and convoked a national Constituent Assembly of Indigenous Peoples and Blacks.  Protection of national resources and the full recognition of the territorial rights of indigenous people are issues at the heart of the call to draft a new constitution for Honduras.

Protection of national resources is also what is most feared by transnational corporate interests and what has generated the tremendous and persistent mainstream media distortion of the reasons for the call for a new constitution and the motives behind the coup, focusing on the red herring of changes in term limit restriction.

As recently as October 7, even the Huffington Post ran an article by a Council on Foreign Relations fellow focused on the change in term limits.  The current and sixteenth constitution was adopted in 1982 during a military dictatorship.

IDB VIOLATES LAW; CO-16 FINANCING FOR METHANE GENERATING LARGE DAMS

The Inter-american Development Bank (IDB), in violation of its own Charter, has resumed funding in Honduras despite Honduras’ ongoing suspension from the Organization of American States.  To compound its violation of international law, the IDB has approved funding for a technical assistance grant to undertake initial project feasibility studies for the Gualcarque and Mixure dams, both in Lenca territory and both having been expressly rejected on multiple occasions in both community assemblies and municipal referendums.

The ‘de facto’ regime is planning to make use of funds obtained through financial mechanisms established by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change for construction of three large dams on the Patuca River despite studies that demonstrate that large dam reservoirs, especially in tropical regions, emit significant methane emissions.

WORLD BANK HELPS COUP AUTHORS PILLAGE THE ENERGY COMPANY

The push for the construction of dams is occurring as the World Bank and the Central American Bank for Economic Integration fund programs oriented toward the privatization of the Honduras National Electrical Energy Company, ENEE.  Though national energy companies across the region had been privatized through similar World Bank promoted programs, Hondurans had strongly defended their national energy company and small consumers received energy for a fraction of the cost as in privatized neighboring countries.

A process of segmenting sectors of ENEE began in 1999.  The meter reading services were contracted out to a Honduran financial services corporation owned by Arturo Corrales, currently the de facto Minister of Planning and International Cooperation.  Corrales was a key actor in the military coup.

Privatization of the national energy and telephone companies seem to be high on the agenda of the coup government.  General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, the military officer who carried out the coup, was named head of the national telephone company, and talk of privatization has already begun.  Washington lobbyist and former State Department official Otto Reich, who was a key voice justifying the coup in Honduras, has worked extensively with telephone and energy corporations.

ENEE’s labor union protested on October 6, demanding that the privatization process be stopped and the already privatized sectors of the energy company be nationalized.  In August ENEE’s union denounced in a press conference that the de facto administration was not enforcing payment for electricity and thus not paying thermal generators money owed in an effort to bankrupt the company as a pretext to allow financial corporations to take it over and privatize it.

Ousted President Manuel Zelaya had rigorously enforced payment of massive outstanding debts by large consumers, restoring financial viability to the State corporation and providing sufficient funds to finance subsidies for low income, small consumers.  Though this generated widespread popular support, corporations that consumed large quantities of energy were angered.  It was denounced by the Union that during the coup the ENEE headquarters were occupied and millions of dollars in debt were erased from the system.

* * * * * * *

HOW TO SUPPORT HONDURAS’ PRO-DEMOCRACY, ANTI-MILITARY COUP REGIME MOVEMENT

TO MAKE TAX-DEDUCTIBLE DONATIONS … for community based groups in the pro-democracy / anti-military regime movement, make check payable to “Rights Action” and mail to:

UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887

CANADA:  552 – 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8

CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS: http://rightsaction.org/contributions.htm

STOCK DONATIONS: Contact info@rightsaction.org

SPEAKERS:  Contact Rights Action to plan educational presentations in your community, school, place of worship, home, about the tireless and courageous Honduras pro-democracy movement.

EDUCATIONAL DELEGATIONS TO CENTRAL AMERICA:  Form your own group and/ or join one of our educational delegation-seminars to learn first hand about community development, human rights and environmental struggles.

JOIN RIGHTS ACTION’s LISTSERV: http://visitor.constantcontact.com/d.jsp?m=1103480765269

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[en] Work Brigade to rebuild and relaunch Radio Faluma Bimetu

Work Brigade to rebuild and relaunch Radio Faluma Bimetu, “The First Garífuna Voice”

Encuentro for the Right to Disseminate our Voices
Triunfo de la Cruz, Honduras, February 1st through 7th

The call:

Radio Faluma Bimetu, OFRANEH, and COMPPA call for participation and support in the reconstruction and re-launching  of Radio Faluma Bimetu in the Garífuna community Triunfo de la Cruz, in the Tela Bay, Honduras, during the first week of February.

What happened:


In the early morning hours of Wednesday, January 6th, the Garífuna community radio Faluma Bimetu (Sweet Coconut) based in Triunfo de la Cruz was burnt down by unknown armed individuals who proceeded to loot the station’s radio equipment. This is not the first time the radio has been attacked and its equipment stolen.

In 2002, unknown persons stole the Faluma Bimetu transmitter and other key radio equipment. The Garífuna people are in resistance to a slow process of forced assimilation into the dominant culture by proponents of the tourist industry and mass media; and subject to evictions by corrupt corporate monopolies.

Transmission of Radio Faluma Bimetu began in 1997, promoted by the Land Defense Committee of Triunfo de la Cruz (CODETT) in order to strengthen Garífuna culture and defend ancestral lands.

Triunfo de la Cruz, like other Tela Bay-Garífuna communities, has become a conflict zone since the invasion of venture capitalists, politicians, and foreign investors attempting to seize community land for the construction of mega–tourism projects. The Garífuna community radios provide a social service to the community and do not generate private profit. Transmitting from Triunfo de la Cruz, Faluma Bimetu is necessary in the fight against Honduran elite, and its attempts to displace Garífuna communities for more corporate development and tourism.

International Brigade

From the 1st through the 7th of February, there will be a national and international brigade for the reconstruction and re-launching of Radio Faluma Bimetu. During the week, the community, the organizations, the Network of Indigenous and Garífuna radios in Honduras and Central America and citizens of the world will gather to collectively reconstruct and reinstall the house, production and transmission cabins. We will reinstall electricity, paint the walls, remove and replace the roof, rebuild the tables, put a fence around the radio, and reinstall radio equipment (including mixers microphones, headphones, transmitters, computers, CD players, and internet, etc.)

During the same week, OFRANEH will organize accompaniment (day visits and overnight trips) with other radios of the Network of Garífuna Community Radios: Radio Durugubuti Beibei in San Juan Tela and Radio Sugua in Sambo Creek. Come with us and meet the people of OFRANEH, who use community radios and popular communications to fight against the censorship of Garífuna voices and culture.

Encuentro for the Right to Disseminate Our Voices:

On February 6th, exactly a month after Radio Faluma Bimetu was attacked, there will be an Encuentro for the right to communication and for the democratization of the media. It will take place in the same community of Triunfo de la Cruz. Participants include representatives of the Network of Indigenous and Garífuna Radios of Central America, AMARC Honduras, Central America and Latin America, ALBATV (Venezuela), Rights Action, COMPPA, OFRANEH and COPINH, among other regional, national and international organizations.

Inauguration of Faluma Bimetu:


Saturday, February 6th, Faluma Bimetu will be re–inaugurated. The inauguration will include cultural ceremonies, music, art, and declarations against the politics of marginalization and erasure.

Solidarity and Support:

We need $7,500 dollars to rebuild Faluma Bimetu and get it back on the air. Join our work party or support us with what you are able (5$ dollars and up). Raise your voice and help defend the communication rights in this effort to rebuild Radio Faluma Bimetu.

Send your donations quickly and conveniently with  PAYPAL or with a CREDIT CARD, send your paypal donation to encuentro@radioscomunitarias.info or make a donation via http://www.comppa.org/wordpress

Or, send a donation directly to OFRANEH´s account in Honduras using this information:
Account No. 3100023062, Banco Atlántida, SWIFT ATTDHNTE, La Ceiba, Atlántida, Honduras C.A.

Finally, you can make a tax deductible donation by sending a check to Rights Action.
Make the check out to “Rights Action” and mail it to:
•    UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
•    CANADA:  552 – 351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8

Please write “Ofraneh-Radio” in the memo line.

For more information on how to participate and support Faluma Bimetu, contact us:
encuentro@radioscomunitarias.info
http://www.radioscomunitarias.info
http://www.comppa.org/wordpress

For more information please consult the following links:
VIDEO:
Antes y Después del Atentado Contra Faluma Bimetu
Before and After the Attack of Radio Faluma Bimetu

Collection of Denouncements, Audios, and Letters of Solidarity
http://honduras.mediosindependientes.org

OFRANEH:
Honduran Black Fraternal Organization, OFRANEH
Telephone (504) 4420618, (504) 4500058
email: ofraneh@yahoo.com
http://www.ofraneh.org

COMPPA:
Popular Communicators for Autonomy
comppa@comppa.org
http://www.comppa.org

A partial list of equipment stolen or damaged during the attack:
1 – 500 watt transmitter 1- 10 channel mixer 2- desktop computers
1- cellphone for the  station
1- air conditioner
1- dvd and cd player
4- microphones  (2 condensed mics and y 2 handheld mics)
2-digital voice recorders 2 – headphones
2- speakers
2 –portable microphones
1- building material ($500.00 corrugated metal roofing, paint, and lumber)
1- electrical wiring

As OFRANEH and COMPPA, our hearts and solidarity go out to the Haitian people.  To support the many rescue and relief efforts in Haiti, visit the following pages and support their work:

http://rightsaction.org/Alerts/Haiti_Earthquake_011310a.html
https://donate.pih.org/page/contribute/haiti_earthquake?source=earthquake&subsource=homepage
http://www.haitiaction.net/About/HERF/1_12_10.html

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[en] OFRANEH: Urgent! Attack against Garifuna Community Radio in Triunfo de la Cruz

Urgent! Attack against Garifuna community radio in Triunfo de la Cruz

Today, early this morning, the Faluma Bimetu community radio was the victim of an attack carried out by unknown authors who set fire to the room where the community radio was installed.

Faluma Bimetu has been around for more than a decade, during which it has focused on strengthening Garifuna culture, as well as participating in the creation of an early alert system, programs concerning HIV/AIDS, and providing general information that goes beyond the habitual distortion that is normally promoted by mass media.

The Garifuna community radios fulfill a social function without any profit motive, especially Faluma Bimetu, which has been transmiting in an area that has been converted into a highly conflictive region by the powerful Honduran elites, because of the interest that financial groups have in displacing the Garifuna communities to use our beaches for their tourism projects.

In recent years, the Municipality of Tela has divided the community by way of a parallel Community Council (“Patronato,” the State-recognized form of local government) that favours the interests of tourism businesspeople. The Faluma Bimetu radio has been one of the champions of the defense of ancestral territory.

Eyewitnesses to the attack report that the humble building where the radio was housed has been destroyed, and that equipment has been lost. This incident is an enormous loss for the community of Triunfo and for the Garifuna people in general.

Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras, OFRANEH

Tel. (504) 442-0618, (504) 450-0058

Av 14 julio, calle 19, Contiguo Vivero Flor Tropical, Barrio Alvarado, La Ceiba, Honduras

email: garifuna@ofraneh.org, ofraneh@yahoo.com

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[en] Rights Action: Day 132 of Honduras Coup Resistance – Failure of “Guaymuras Accords”

Day 132 of HONDURAS COUP RESISTANCE – FAILURE OF “GUAYMURAS ACCORDS”
(November 6, 2009, Honduras Coup Alert#87)

(131st day of peaceful resistance to the coup regime. Photo, Karen Spring, November 5, 2009, Tegucigalpa)

BELOW:

  • COPINH (Civic council of popular and indigenous organizations of Honduras) analyses the failed “Guaymuras Accords”
  • CPTRT (Center for the Prevention, Treatment and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture) summary report on use of torture by oligarchic-military regime

TO DONATE FUNDS – SEE AT BOTTOM

Please continue to financially support the pro-democracy, anti-coup movement in Honduras.  This extraordinary struggle, to defeat the oligarchic-military regime and to remake their constitution and country, will continue well into 2010.

VIEW The Real News

“Nothing resolved in Honduras: Widely-celebrated, US-brokered agreement looks to have strengthened coup instead of reversing it”: http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=31&Itemid=74&jumival=4431

HUMAN RIGHTS DELEGATION TO HONDURAS, November 24–December 1, 2009

Consider joining a Rights Action delegation to Honduras.  For information: Grahame Russell, info@rightsaction.org, 1-860-352-2448

FOR INTERVIEWS & MORE INFORMATION

* * *

COPINH – CIVIC COUNCIL OF POPULAR AND INDIGENOUS ORGANIZATIONS OF HONDURAS
The indigenous-campesino organization COPINH denounces the “Guaymuras Accords”

In the face of the signing of the accords to seek a solution to the crisis generated by the military coup d’etat against the people of Honduras, COPINH emits the following communiqué:

1. We have no trust in the negotiating commission of the coup regime, given that they have never demonstrated a willingness to reinstate the constitutional president of the republic.  Its only purpose is to buy time to consolidate the objectives of the coup d’etat in looting the national treasury and imposing neoliberal projects of privatization of natural resources and state institutions.

2. We denounce the malicious and intentional attitude of the government of the United States of America, that takes ambiguous positions but, behind the scenes, has supported the coup-makers and, if not, how can they explain that in the kidnapping of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales they used the [U.S. military’s Honduran] Palmerola base?  If the yankees had so much political will to contribute to the resolution of this crisis, why so much tolerance, patience and complacency with the coup-makers in lending themselves to a dialogue where they present deceiving agreements as a solution?

3. We call out people not to rest until we achieve the convoking of a popular and democratic national constitutional assembly, which should be made up of the different social sectors of the country such as women, feminists, youth, indigenous and black peoples, workers, the LGTB community, community councils, representatives of marginalized neighborhoods, teachers, artists, peasants, honest business people, intellectuals, professionals, the informal economy sector, alternative media, among others.

4. We urge the National Front of Popular Resistance to raise an initiative of dialogue and negotiation towards more dignified agreements in which the mediation shouldn’t be to the liking and oversight of the yankee government, which has helped drive the coup d’etat against our people, but instead by people like Rigoberta Menchu, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, democratic countries that make up the Bolivarian Alternative of the Americas (ALBA) and UNASUR, foundations like the Carter Foundation, social movements of the countries of Latin America and the world like the Landless Peoples Movement of Brazil, the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo of Argentina, the Scream of the Excluded, Jubilee South, the Convergence of Popular Movements of the Americas, the School of the Americas Watch, the platforms of solidarity with the Honduran people and others.

For this the front should name a negotiating commission that understands that the coup-makers are perverse and that the State Department, the Pentagon and the U.S. government in general are driving the coup d’etat and proposing, as key points, the restitution of the President of the Republic Manuel Zelaya Rosales to govern for the time that the coup-makers robbed of his governing period, the installation of a national constitutional assembly and the dissolution of the coup congress, of the coup supreme court, of the coup public ministry, the reduction and purging of the armed forces, the definitive purging of the national police and the punishment of the people involved in the coup d’etat and the violation of human rights.

5. We urge once again to the candidates of the Democratic Unification Party, the Popular Independent Candidacy, the PINU party and the Liberals, who are in resistance, to be consistent and renounce, once and for all, participation in the electoral farce set up by the coup-makers.  To our people we urge you not to participate in the electoral circus and to boycott that act of the coup-makers.

6. To the international solidarity we invite you to strengthen the support to the Honduran people not just as a principle of solidarity but for reasons of self-defense since if the coup-makers consolidate in Honduras the democratic spring of the peoples of the world and particularly the peoples of our America will end.

With the ancestral force of Lempira, Iselaca, Mota and Etempica we raise our voices filled with life, justice, dignity, freedom and peace.

HERE NOBODY IS GIVING UP / AQUI, NO SE RINDE NADIE

* * *

INTRODUCTION TO CPTRT’S RECENT REPORT DETAILING THE USE OF TORTURE BY THE COUP REGIME

By the CPTRT (Center for the Prevention, Treatment, and Rehabilitation of Victims of Torture and their Families).  Complete report in Spanish:  http://www.cptrt.org/pdf/Tortura_Represion_Sistematica_GolpeEstado.pdf.  Translated by Patricia Adams of the Quixote Center, www.quixote.org)

The political military coup in Honduras, which took place on June 28, 2009, has special characteristics … .

The first component is the participation of the old followers of the National Security Doctrine that have continued practicing torture with impunity since the 80’s and who are the principle military and police advisors of the de facto regime.

The second component is the strategy of low intensity conflict, psychological torture, state terrorism, total suspension of constitutional guarantees, the state of siege and the presence of national and international hired assassins.

The third element is that the coup is taking place in the country where one of the most important US military bases exists [Palmerola, 40 minutes north of Tegucigalpa, the capital city] and where international military trainings and maneuvers occur frequently.

The fourth element is the alliance of economic, media, political, judicial, and religious powers in the country, that openly denies the coup, referring to it as a ‘constitutional succession.’ An alliance which also proclaims and justifies this military coup in the name of the law of God, peace, and democracy, all while keeping silent about murders, torture, and human rights violations.

The fifth component is the condemnation of the coup as a military coup, by almost 100% percent of the world’s countries, with the exception of United States, which condemns it as a coup but does not consider it to have been military in nature.

The sixth component is that the coup is considered as being not only against Zelaya but against the entire people of Honduras, and is a threat to the stability of some Latin American governments.

The seventh component is the existence of the popular response by the National Resistance Front Against the Military Coup, which has been protesting continuously for more than 120 days, despite the massive repression by brutal military and police force, the use of toxic gases, chemical weapons, intense noises, murders, persecution, political imprisonment and massive use of torture.

The eighth component is that the coup has occurred in the context of an electoral process which censors and gags the freedom of expression, in which the de facto government has fierce control of more than 90% of the communications media, and through which a variety of media outlets and journalists were militarized and repressed, including Radio Globo, Cholusat Sur, Diario Tiempo, Canal 11, Radio Progreso and the newspaper El Libertador.

The ninth element in that candidates from the opposition parties for the upcoming presidential, congressional, and mayoral elections have been subjected to torture, to being followed, to violent trauma and to murder. These facts are indicators of the restrictions on freedom and the civil and political rights of an electoral campaign process.

The tenth component is a 60% increase in femicide, the violations of the rights of trans-gender people, as well as the persecution and racism against the indigenous and the Garífunas. In this context, it is especially important to mention that since the sixth of October of 2009, 12 people affiliated with the Lenca indigenous organization COPINH have sought political asylum inside the Guatemala Embassy, that Augustina Flores, sister of COPINH leader Berta Caceres, was tortured by the police forces, and that the Lenca resistance leader Antoio Leiva was murdered.

Additionally, on the 21st of October, Day of the Forces that are Armed against the people, the criminal policies of the de facto regime resounded clearly when the repressive forces of the Direction of Criminal Investigation were ordered to break in, terrorize and silence the language and culture of our brothers and sisters of Radio Flumabimeto and Radio Duruugubuty, radio stations of the Garífuna peoples in the regions of Triunfo de la Cruz and San Juan, in the Bay of Tela, terrorizing 46 communities.

The murder of leaders of the teachers movements has been another characteristic of this military coup: Roger Vallejo, Martín Rivera, Mario Fidel Contreras, and Eliseo Hernández, as well as Jairo Sánchez, the President of the Union of INFOP Workers (SITRAINFOP), who was shot and eventually died from the wounds he sustained.

Lastly, we wish to point out the enormous risk of human rights defense work: our staff has been threatened, followed, and shot at, and their phone lines have been tapped and cut.  We are grateful for the international solidarity and support and for our organization, particularly we are thankful for the Research Centre for Torture (RCT DANIDA).  This report is a product of team work and the vocation to ethical and responsible service of the CPTRT.

We also take this opportunity to publicly recognize all the human rights organization, national and international, who are against the military coup.

Juan Almendares
Executive Director of the CPTRT

RISE IN REPORTS OF TORTURE AND CRUEL, INHUMAN AND DEGRADING TREATMENT

Tegucigalpa November 2, 2009: The CPTRT reports that the number of cases of torture and cruel, inhuman and degrading (TCID) treatments has risen at an alarming rate and has become of means of political repression in the wake of the coup d’etat.

Throughout these four months, the CPTRT alone has registered 475 cases of torture and TCID. Nonetheless, it is estimated that the number of total cases in considerably higher given the tendency of under-reporting for fear of reprisal or lack of trust in the judicial system.

Between 2007 and the first half of 2009, CPTRT saw an average of 2.5 cases of torture each month, compared with 118.75 cases per month in the current context.

The majority of victims of torture seen by CPTRT have been protestors that have shown a serious opposition to the coup, although members of Congress, advocates of the 4th ballot box process, and journalists have been targeted as well.

[Translators note: The possible presence of a 4th ballot box was the subject of the non-binding survey President Manuel “Mel” Zelaya tried to carry out on June 28th 2009, the day of the coup d’etat. If the results of the non-binding survey would have been positive, Zelaya could have used them to back his proposal to Congress for the presence of a 4th ballot box in the November general elections. If the Congress approved the presence of the 4th ballot box, the Honduran people would have been able to vote for the creation of a Constituent Assembly tasked with drafting a new Constitution.]

The torture has been physical, psychological, and sexual and has been almost exclusively committed by the police and military. The torture has included both traditional and new methods, such as viscous blows to the body and throat, burns via the application of lit cigarettes to the body and genitals, use of gas, deprivation of water and food, humiliation, verbal abuse, sexual harassment, the threat of death, the threat of disappearance, and the threat of the use of electric shock, among others.

GIVEN THE ABOVE, CPTRT:

Demands that the Honduran state investigate, pursue and penalize those responsible for the crimes of torture and TCID, and demands that attention, reparation, and restitution be provided to the victims.

Offers the reminder that torture is a crime against humanity that is not subject to a statute of limitations and that the passage of time does not make impossible either investigation of the crimes nor penalty of those responsible.

Offers the reminder that the prohibition of torture is an obligation that Honduras assumed on a national level through the Constitution, and through the ratification of international instruments like Convention on Torture, among others.

CPTRT states that the defense of human rights in the country has become a high risk activity for its staff, which has been threatened continuously through intimidation, being fired upon, followed, and threatened. Therefore, CPTRT urges the international community to undergo pertinent actions to protect the life of defenders and also makes a special call to the representatives of the EU to apply the European Guidelines of Human Rights Defenders.

* * *

FUNDS NEEDED to support organizations and people working on human rights issues and with the National Front Against the Coup.  Make your tax-deductible check to “rights action” and mail to:

UNITED STATES:  Box 50887, Washington DC, 20091-0887
CANADA:  552-351 Queen St. E, Toronto ON, M5A-1T8
CREDIT-CARD DONATIONS:  http://rightsaction.org/contributions.htm

For foundations and institutional donors, Rights Action can (upon request) provide a full proposal of which organizations and people we are channeling funds to and supporting.

WATCH A 2-PART “FAULT LINES” NEWS REPORT ABOUT HONDURAS:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EYY4vj9ROC0&feature=player_embedded
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upMu_oR2YUU&NR=1

FOR INTERVIEWS & MORE INFORMATION:
In Honduras, Karen Spring, 011-504-9507-3835, spring.kj@gmail.com
In USA, Grahame Russell, 860-352-2448, info@rightsaction.org

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[en] Rick Kearns: Indigenous Hondurans Face Persecution and Great Risk after Coup

Mujeres indigenas Lencas, presentes en la Resistencia. Foto: Sandra Cuffe

By Rick Kearns, Today correspondent

Story Published on Indian Country Today: Oct 23, 2009

The coup government of Honduras is severely repressing opposition, curtailing constitutional rights, allowing excessive police violence which could be linked to several deaths, beatings and disappearances.

Those leaders are engaged in the seizing of media outlets across the country and persecution of indigenous peoples, particularly those involved in the almost daily protests according to two groups of international human rights observers who conducted investigations in July and August.

The most recent report came from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, a branch of the hemispheric Organization of American States. The report, published Aug. 22, listed the following charges: “… repression imposed on protestors through the use of military patrols, the arbitrary applications of curfews, detentions of thousands of people; cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment and bad conditions of detention.

“Of particular gravity is the death of four persons and various other wounded people caused by firearms. An exhaustive investigation into these deaths is necessary, considering that the commission has received information that could link these deaths with actions by agents of the government.”

The observers interviewed hundreds of Hondurans – including indigenous peoples. Those interviewed ranged from people with charges of abuse as well as officials of various levels of government, including representatives of the coup leadership. The two reports also noted the flow of information had been controlled by order of the coup government. In their press statement, the IACHR made special note of that issue.

“The control of information is exercised through the temporary closing of some communication media, the military occupation of those same media, the prohibition of emitting broadcasts about the coup by certain television stations during that time, the selective cutting of electrical services to audio-visual media that were reporting on the coup and aggressions and threats against journalists with different editorial positions.”

The IACHR said military squads occupied schools and universities during and after the time of the coup. The IACHR and the International Observation Mission of the Situation of Human Rights in Honduras – which conducted its investigation a few weeks before the commission – noted that among those interviewed were indigenous peoples. One of the mission observers spoke about how the coup was negatively affecting many Native people.

The overall situation of indigenous people in Honduras after the coup is “precarious and very risky” according to Marcia Aguiluz who participated in the mission that included 15 “independent professionals” from 13 countries.

Aguiluz, a staff attorney for the Center for Justice and International Law, spoke about the indigenous Hondurans when visiting their Washington, D.C. office in August, after she had taken part in the International Observation Mission. CEJIL is an international human rights nonprofit agency that litigates human rights cases before the IACHR and recommends actions to be taken.

The mission team interviewed government officials, politicians, human rights advocates, union members, social movement members, indigenous leaders, journalists, the Honduran Attorney General, the director of the National Police and various demonstrators from across the country between July 17 and July 28. Mission participants included judges, attorneys, journalists, sociologists, political analysts and human rights experts from Germany, Argentina, Austria, Belgium, Colombia, Costa Rica, Denmark, El Salvador, Spain, Nicaragua, Peru, Sweden and Uruguay.

In an Aug. 7 interview, Aguiluz spoke about some of their findings in regards to the problems confronting the indigenous people of Honduras.

“We held a meeting with the Front of Resistance against the Coup, which contains all of the diverse sectors and movements that oppose it (coup). In that meeting we spoke with Bertha Cáceres, director of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras, one of the strongest indigenous organizations in the country. They are very involved in the struggle, principally because they feel they have never been heard or taken into account.

“With President Zelaya and his proposed referendum, the indigenous people saw a chance of becoming part of the decision making process in the country. Bertha said her wish was to ‘allow for the building of their concept of truth and justice’ which had been prohibited by the powerful classes of Honduras. Currently, their situation is precarious and very risky, many of them are being persecuted because they have protested against the coup, also they are under threat and due to their peaceful actions of resistance they have abandoned their homes, finding refuge in Tegucigalpa with the help of other organizations.”

In the final part of the interview Aguiluz urged the international community to “stay informed” and to understand that the coup had caused institutional damage to the country and that fundamental rights were being hurt as well.

“A large percentage of the population – including indigenous peoples – are being threatened by the de facto regime, who are impeding their ability to express themselves as well as repressing them and not protecting their rights. … In Honduras right now, the people are completely unprotected.”

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