Tag Archives: human rights

[en] COFADEH to participate in Inter-American Commission on Human Rights Hearings in DC

Original article in Spanish by Mario Casasus, DefensoresEnLinea.com

 

Lawyer Kenia Oliva and human rights activist Mery Agurcia will represent the Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) in three Inter-American Commission on Human Rights hearings on October 25th and 26th in Washington, DC: Protective Measures, Freedom of Expression, and Criminalization of Human Rights Defenders.

In a radio interview by the Voices Against Forgetting (Voces contra el olvido) program, Kenia Oliva explained: “We will follow up on the case of protective measures, report on the state of freedom of expression, and denounce the criminalization of human rights defenders. We are taking well-documented case files to demonstrate that human rights violations are still occurring. The State has even criminalized human rights defenders. In this situation of legal uncertainty, the Office of the Public Prosecutor itself, which would be the institution responsible for protecting and cooperating with human rights defenders in terms of investigating human rights violations, is instead criminalizing defenders, initiating criminal charges against them.”

Kenia Oliva will also take advantage that “while in Washington, on October 26th, the time limit to respond to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights regarding the case of ‘The Six Students’ is up. COFADEH was involved in a process of an “Amicable Settlement with the State.” In 2008, the government of President Zelaya had enacted an Executive Decree in which the government committed to starting a National Program of Reparations for Victims of Human Rights Violations during the 1980s. However, the Office of the Public Prosecutor opposed its creation, arguing that it was excluding. Thus, COFADEH decided not to pursue the “Amicable Settlement” and to instead to follow the formal case proceedings before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.”

The case of ‘The Six Students’ dates back to 1982, when army soldiers kidnapped six students – Milton and Marlen Jimenez Puerto, Gilda and Suyapa Rivera Sierra, and Edwin and Adan Guillermo Lopez Rodezno – and tortured them for four days. In July 1995, the Special Attorney for Human Rights, Sonia Dubon, accused ten military officials with attempted murder and illegal detention in connection with the “temporary disappearance” of the students. Among the accused military officials were Raymundo Alexander Hernandez and Billy Joya Amendola, who both currently live in total impunity.

Translated from Spanish by Sandra Cuffe

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[en] MISF Briefing: Government-Supported Human Rights Abuses and the Legacy of Impunity

Briefing on Honduras: Government-Supported Human Rights Abuses and the Legacy of Impunity

READ MISF’s FULL BRIEFING, UPDATED OCT. 11 2010, HERE (PDF) AND IN SPANISH HERE (updated Spanish version coming soon).

In the months after the June 28 coup in Honduras, international media and NGOs reported on the de facto government’s suspension of constitutional rights, censorship of media outlets and repression of peaceful demonstrators. Less reported and harder to monitor has been an ongoing wave of human rights violations—illegal arrests, intimidation, police beatings, and suspicious deaths of journalists, resistance leaders, activists, advocates and their family members—which have continued, and in the case of journalists increased, since the inauguration of President Porfirio Lobo Sosa.

Human rights advocates say they have been witnessing a pattern of abuse strikingly similar to what citizens suffered during the political conflicts of the 1980s. They point to a culture of ongoing repression that has been cultivated by government and military impunity for human rights violations over the last 30 years.

“The connection is very evident in the patterns of repression that have played out. The mode of repression, the sowing of fear, detentions, and the general climate of terror is very reminiscent of the 80s,” Claudia Hermansdorfer, director of the Honduran Center for Women’s Rights, said.

In the 1980s the Honduran Military Battalion 3-16 kidnapped, tortured or “disappeared” citizens. Today at least five former military officers with ties to Battalion 3-16 are reported to hold powerful positions within the government or police (see Former Battalion 3-16 members in positions of power today, below) and little has been done to end a dysfunctional culture of impunity.

In 1994, then Human Rights Commissioner Leo Valladares published numerous recommendations in The Facts Speak for Themselves (Los Hechos Hablan Por Si Mismo) following his independent investigation into human rights abuses perpetrated by Honduran security forces in the 1980s.

In his report, Valladares advised that “the creation of [several specific] greater legal protections will be necessary to prevent disappearances from happening again,” including a “central registry of detained persons” and a “special law regarding detention.” He also recommended several reforms regarding accountability, noting, “The state has the duty and the right to use force against those who violate its laws. The legitimate use of force, however, flows from respect for the Constitution and laws of the nation.” His recommendations include those to “assure democratic and citizen control of all public security actions,” among others.

Those recommendations remain valid today and, regrettably, most have not been acted on by any Honduran government since the report was published. According to Susan Peacock, a former fellow at the National Security Archive who assisted Valladares in his efforts to obtain U.S. declassified information on events in the 1980s, “If those recommendations have not been followed up on, it is unlikely the Truth Commission’s will be. History is likely to repeat itself until actions are taken to break the cycles of impunity.”

The net result is a culture of impunity that has left many Hondurans fearful of the current situation. Bertha Oliva, director of Committee for Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH), said, “Before, they hid the dead. Now they do it in public, challenging every principle of human rights.”

CLICK HERE to download a PDF of the full backgrounder on government-supported human rights abuses and the legacy of impunity in Honduras. The information provided is based on research that May I Speak Freely Media has conducted over the past 10 years.

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[en] COFADEH: 157 Hondurans have fled into Exile

By Dina Meza, DefensoresEnLinea.com

Original article in Spanish

 

The Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras, COFADEH, is able to confirm that there are political exiles. Over the last few weeks, three more people have been taken out of the country because their lives are in danger, bringing the total to 157 persecuted people who have left Honduras, said Bertha Oliva, coordinator of the human rights organization COFADEH.

After declarations by [ousted] President Manuel Zelaya Rosales about the existence of political exiles, the regime of Porfirio Lobo Sosa has tried to delegitimize these allegations, requesting a list of the exiles’ identities. On the matter, Oliva pointed out that COFADEH has registered 157 people in exile due to political persecution by the Honduran State and its agents.

“At the same time they say they are creating mechanisms, they are going looking for people with photographs in hand. They are paramilitaries, death squads that persecute people who have some level of leadership in their communities and neighbourhoods,” denounced the coordinator of COFADEH.

To Oliva, the total of 157 Hondurans who have fled Honduras is a scandalous number, considering that if Honduras is supposedly living through a process of reconciliation, there should not be a single person leaving the country due to terror or political persecution.

COFADEH is not working with cases of family vendettas, but with people involved in the national resistance with some level of leadership in their communities and neighbourhoods who are being followed, pursued using their photographs – in short, we are talking about paramilitaries, death squads, reiterated the human rights activist.

It is about political persecution. If it were not so, why is it that members of the resistance are those who are being persecuted?, she asked while emphasizing the regime’s double standards.

Concerning Porfirio Lobo’s repeated statements asking for the list of exiles in order to prove that they really exist, human rights defender Oliva asked how it is possible that Lobo, who supported left-wing movements in the 1980s, now asks for names and addresses, which would place these people at risk.

“This is not a legend, it is not happening in Bosnia… this false respect of human rights needs to be stopped,” expressed Oliva, who returned last weekend from a trip to the United States where she denounced what is happening in Honduras and, together with the Human Rights Platform [of Honduras], received the Letelier Moffitt award.

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[en] COFADEH: Alert in the Aguan, Young MUCA Member Murdered

Alert: New Violent Incidents in the Aguan, Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras, COFADEH, calls out urgently to the international community in the face of new acts of violence that occurred in the Aguan region today, Thursday, April 1st:

1.-We condemn the murder of 22-year-old Miguel Alonso Oliva, murdered by security guards when the Aguan Unified Campesino Movement (MUCA) occupied lands in the Boleros estate, which are illegally possessed by landowner Rene Morales.

2.-At the same time, we condemn the lack of quick action to solve the land conflict in the lower Aguan by the Porfirio Lobo Sosa regime, which is showing itself to be acquiescent to the landowners by failing to take on the responsibility of returning the State-owned lands that should be immediately handed over to the campesinos and campesinas, as per the law.

3.-We urge the international community to send urgent actions to the Honduran State in order to end this precarious and difficult situation against women, men, and children. They are terrorized by the weapons belonging both to the security guards working for landowners Miguel Facusse, Rene Morales and Reynaldo Canales, as well as those of the heavily-armed army and police forces that are preparing to move into the area with the intention of evicting the campesinos and campesinas who have recuperated the lands along the left bank of the Aguan river. Several cooperatives are located along the left bank: Suyapa del Aguán, Guanchías, Buenos Amigos, Remolino, Despertar, Trinidad, San Esteban, Quebrada Honda, Paso Aguán, El Plantel, Islas 1 and 2, Marañones, and Boleros.

4.-We proclaim our solidarity with the family of young Miguel Alonso Oliva, whose wake is being held in the community of Guadalupe Carney in Silin, Colon, where dozens of people have gathered to accompany his relatives.

5.-COFADEH has received unconfirmed reports of other possible deaths of security guards, demonstrating the urgency of a resolution to this conflict in order to avoid further bloodshed and the polarization of the Honduran family.

OF THE ACTS AND THOSE RESPONSIBLE,
WE DO NOT FORGET, NOR DO WE FORGIVE

Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras
COFADEH

Tegucigalpa, April 1st, 2010

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[en] Rights Action: ‘Text-Book’ State Terrorism in Honduras

‘TEXT-BOOK’ STATE TERRORISM IN HONDURAS:
DEATH-SQUADS KILL TEACHER, BROAD DAYLIGHT, IN FRONT OF STUDENTS

On March 23, at the same moment that a group of seven Honduran lawyers were presenting information to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission in Washington DC concerning systematic human rights abuses being committed against the pacifist Honduran National Resistance Front (FNRP), a death squad comprised of heavily armed men wearing ski masks and civilian clothes, killed a prominent FNRP member, a teacher, in front of his high school students.

According to a communiqué issued by the Committee for the Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (CODEH),

“At 3pm an unknown person was spotted in front of the San Jose del Pedregal High School.  The unusual presence of a stranger caused concerns among students and thirty teachers who make up the staff of teachers who work at the school.  Among the teachers was Professor of Social Science Jose Manuel Flores, who worked as teacher counselor.

“Witnesses on the scene saw two pickups approach the rear of the school premises, apparently 2009 models, one green and white.

“Professor Manuel, as his friends called him, was in the back of the facility overseeing pupils, when the assassins found him.  They passed the perimeter fence and fired their guns at close range.

“The teacher was on a balcony from which he fell, and they fired on him again from above.  As they fled, the ski mask of one of the attackers became entangled in the razor coil over the fence which they had cut open to look for their victim.  The teacher died instantly.”

THIS IS STATE TERRORISM
The killing of a prominent teacher in front of his students and colleagues, in the middle of the day, a man who was active in the FNRP, participating in protests and publishing articles in alternative press, is calculated act of repression designed to terrorize other Honduras and to send a silencing message.

Among many in the FNRP, the timing of the crime – at the same time as the Inter-American Commission of Human Rights hearing held in Washington – is part of that message, reminiscent of the attack on the family lawyer Jari Dixon Herrera immediately following a CNN interview in Washington DC.

While the attackers’ identity is not known, it is important to note that when current Minister of Government Oscar Alvarez served as Minister of Government, under the administration of President Maduro, he instituted a practice in which police dressed in civilian clothes and wearing ski masks (of varying types) participate in raids.  Their appearance makes them indistinguishable from organized crime assassins, who operate with impunity throughout Honduras and the region.

This is the same modus operandi of state terrorism and death squads that operated in U.S. backed regimes in Honduras throughout the 1970s and 1980s, during the so-called ‘cold war’.

During the eight months since the June 28, 2009 military coup in Honduras, dozens of FNRP activists have been killed, some during illegal detention by police forces, others in death squad type situations like the killing of Professor Manuel.

There is not a credible or functional justice system operating in Honduras.  Proper investigation by Honduran authorities is not possible.

In reaction to the killing, teachers are holding a national strike and there is a national protest scheduled to occur March 25.

Millions of Hondurans, along with the Organization of American States (OAS) and many nations around the world, do not recognize the legitimacy of the current acting president of Honduras, Pep Lobo.

The FNRP continues to struggle for the legitimate goal of convoking a constitutional convention to create a new constitution since the current one, formulated in 1981 amidst widespread repression and militarization, does not adequately protect the rights of citizens.

The massive support the call for a new constitution enjoys among Hondurans resulted in the violent military overthrow of the elected president in June 2009 and the de facto powers are attempting to silence this on-going demand through violence such as the killing of Professor Manuel.

UNITED STATES & CANADA
The US and Canadian governments must be held partially responsible for the on-going State terrorism and repression in Honduras.

  • The US and Canada indirectly legitimized the military-oligarchic regime after the June 28th military coup;
  • they recognized the illegal “elections” on November 28, 2009;
  • they attended the January 27, 2010 “transfer of power”, when the regime of current leader Pepe Lobo took power;
  • they are now promoting the “normalization of relations” with Honduras in the international community;
  • both governments continue to ignore the well-documented State-sponsored killings and repression;
  • both work to invisibilize the massive social movement and the call for a new constitution.

The legitimate struggle of the majority of Hondurans – peaceful and courageous – continues.  They need on-going support.  They also need Canadians and Americans to pressure our own governments – the main supporters of the Honduran regime – to condemn the systemic repression in Honduras; to not turn a blind eye to repression and impunity and casually maintain full political, economic and military relations with the regime.

FOR MORE INFORMATION: Annie Bird, annie@rightsaction.org, 1-202-680-3002 & Grahame Russell, info@rightsaction.org, 1-860-352-2448.  www.rightsaction.org

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[en] Human Rights Platform: Prevent Intensification of Violence in Aguan Region

Press Release

We Must Prevent the Intensification of Violent Incidents in the Lower Aguan

The Human Rights Platform, in its travels to learn in situ about the conditions of violence in the Aguan Valley and the conditions in which the families organized in the Aguan Unified Farmworkers’ Movement (MUCA) live, visited the La providencia de la Concepción, La Aurora, La Confianza and Los Camarones cooperatives, located along the right-hand riverbank, and the Guanchías cooperative along the left bank.

From this visit, we summarize our report in the following points:

* The facts learned refute the media campaign that criminalizes the actions taken by MUCA, relating them to guerilla groups advised by foreigners who supposedly operate in the region;

* We confirmed the presence in the land occupations of families including children (including infants), pregnant women, seniors, disabled people, living in deplorable conditions;

* The Human Rights Platform has documented complaints that reflect a state of distress, helplessness, and anxiety, caused by the presence of groups armed with sophisticated military equipment (weapons with laser beams and night vision) that harass the population in the area, violent evictions, and constant death threats against members of the different cooperatives;

* The testimonies highlight that various people have been injured as a result of the violent evictions and acts of intimidation, and that a series of anomalies has taken place during illegal detentions: arrest and detention of minors (children between 5 and 8 years of age); confinement in places of detention with no legal authorization (a case in which detainees were held in military facilities in the region); the supposed authorities did not identify themselves at the moment arrest, and did not read the detainees’ rights or inform them of the supposed charges.

* We denounce the precarious situation of the families claiming their right to land in the lower Aguan. Among our discoveries in the settlements, we found that there is little food, serious signs of malnutrition, unsanitary conditions, huts made of palm fronds and/or plastic, where entire families live, and ontop of all of this the lack of medical attention that may cause problems in the children’s development. Furthermore, the Human Rights Platform is concerned about the impossibility of obtaining a working income while the crisis continues.

* In the case of the Guanchías cooperative, the families occupying the property are living in warehouses with toxic waste, which represents a threat to their health. Ontop of this, ten people with rabies due to bat bites have been identified.

* Apart from the violations of the rights to life and to physical and psychological integrity, the rights to education, health, and food are being violated.

As the Human Rights Platform, we declare ourselves in constant vigilance with respect to the situation in the lower Aguan, taking into account that it demands prioritized attention in terms of human rights.

We demand that the Special Attorney’s Office on Human Rights pay close attention to the conflict posed in this region and we encourage the national and international community and international human rights organizations to issue statements with regard to the observations presented in this release.

Tegucigalpa, Honduras, March 24, 2010.

CDM-CIPRODEH-CODEH-COFADEH-CPTRT-FIAN

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[en] Human Rights Platform concerned about potential eviction in Aguan Valley

Human Rights Platform warns of possible violent eviction of farmworkers’ settlements in the lower Aguan

The Human Rights Platform informs the national and international community of the possible violent eviction of the families organized in the Aguan United Farmworkers Movement (MUCA) engaged in land occupations in the Aguan Valley. According to reports received about the current state of the negotiations, the designated governmental commission will present a written proposal to the farmworkers’ movement today.

MUCA has announced that it will analyse the proposal with its members and will then make a declaration on the subject. The concern is that if the farmworkers’ response does not please the landowners, the latter may proceed to an eviction using the traditional violent methods that, given the current circumstances, could result in deaths and injuries.

According to formal complaints obtained in the region, heavily armed uniformed groups aided by special equipment for nocturnal operations patrol the areas surrounding the farmworkers’ settlements in a threatening way.

The Human Rights Platform believes that the necessary precautions should be taken to avoid potential violence, which would once again endanger the physical and psychological integrity of thousands involved in the conflict.

The Honduran State is responsible for preventing and guaranteeing that citizens’ human rights are respected and for punishing the perpetrators of crimes against the physical integrity of others. It is also responsible for ensuring that farmworkers have access to land and other resources to live decently.

We demand that the Special Attorney’s Office on Human Rights pay attention to events in the region and take measures appropriate to the particular conditions there in order to avoid greater trouble.

We ask that international human rights organizations, populations, and governments demand of Porfirio Lobo Sosa the immediate dismantling of paramilitary squadrons and a halt to actions of repressive State forces biased in favour of the landowners.

Tegucigalpa, MDC, Honduras, March 24, 2010

CDM, CIPRODEH, CODEH, COFADEH, CPTRT and FIAN

[translation from the original Spanish version by Sandra Cuffe]

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[en] COFADEH denounces threats against its members

 

The Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) denounces that this past Sunday, February 7th, at around eight in the morning, Daniel Martinez, who was in our office at the time, answered a phone call to 222-71-44, and a woman warned him: “Be careful because there is going to be an attack against you people, especially those of you who are out in the streets…”

Martinez explained that when he asked the woman who was speaking, she hung up the phone.

This new threat against COFADEH occurs at a time when the repressive forces of the State continue to hunt various people linked to the resistance. Some of the recent incidents that have us on alert are:

On February 3rd, young nurse Vanesa Zepeda (29) was found dead. She was an active participant in the resistance against the coup d’etat and a union activist from the Honduras Institute of Social Security (IHSS). She had left her home at two in the afternoon, after which time there was no further contact with her. Her body was thrown from a vehicle in the Loarque neighbourhood, between 6:30 and 7:00 that night. Administrative persecution by way of layoff hearings in Social Security were the preamble to her death.

On February 2nd, young camerographers Manuel de Jesus Murillo Varela, of the Hable como Habla program, and Ricardo Rodriguez, of the Mi Nacion news program, were temporarily kidnapped by a police unit of men dressed in civilian clothing who drove them to a clandestine jail where they were subjected to “the hood” and were asphixiated to the point that they lost consciousness. They were also contantly threatened that if they did not say where they had money and weapons, their heads and toes would be cut off.

That same night, Resistance members Ariel Lobo and Ricardo Dominguez were arrested by the preventative police and were transferred to the police station in El Manchen. The two were also interrogated about ownership of weapons. In August 2009, Ariel Lobo was the victim of a kidnapping attempt by soldiers and heavilly armed men dressed in civilian clothing who were carrying out an operative in downtown Tegucigalpa.

In mid-January, teacher, indigenous Pech leader and active resistance member Blas Lopez was murdered in the community of Carbonal, in the department of Olancho.

COFADEH requests that the international community, and especially human rights organizations, stay alert and express their concern about the current situation.

Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras, COFADEH

Tegucigalpa, MDC, February 7th, 2010.

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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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