Tag Archives: resistance

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.

 

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(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.

 

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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.

 

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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

 

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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] video: Honduran Voices Call for Deep Democracy, by Matt Schwartz

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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] Communique #32 – National Front of Resistance to the Coup d’Etat

 

The National Front of Resistance to the Coup d’Etát, facing the
imminent signing of a negotiated agreement between the commission
representing the legitimate President Manuel Zelaya Rosales and the
representatives of the de facto regime, communicates the following to
the Honduran people and the international community:

1. We celebrate the upcoming restoration of President Manuel Zelaya
Rosales as a popular victory over the narrow interests of the coup
oligarchy. This victory has been obtained through four months of
struggle and sacrifice by the people who, in spite of the savage
repression unleashed by the repressive forces of the state in the
hands of the dominant class, have been able to resist and grow in
their levels of consciousness and organization and turn themselves
into an irrepressible social force.

2. The signing on the part of the dictatorship of the document which
mandates “returning the holder of executive power to its pre June 28
state,” represents the explicit acceptance that in Honduras there was
a coup d’état that should be dismantled in order to return to
institutional order and guarantee a democratic framework in which the
people can exercise their right to transform society.

3. We demand that the accords signed at the negotiating table be
processed in an expedited fashion by the National Congress. We alert
all our comrades at the national level so that they can join the
actions to pressure for the immediate compliance with the contents of
the final document from the negotiating table.

4. We reiterate that a National Constituent Assembly is an
unrenounceable aspiration of the Honduran people and a non-negotiable
right for which we will continue struggling in the streets, until we
achieve the re-founding of our society to convert it into one that is
just, egalitarian and truly democratic.

“At 125 days of struggle, nobody here surrenders!”
Tegucigalpa, M.D.C. October 30, 2009

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[en] Juan Almendares: The Electoral Theater of the Military-Political Coup

'The National Constituent Assembly is Not Negotiable' - Photo: Sandra Cuffe

The Electoral Theater of the Military-Political Coup

by Juan Almendares

Translation by Doug Zylstra; originally posted on Quotha.net


“The world is a theater curtain behind which are hid the deepest secrets.”  – Rabindranah Tagore

Here we examine the scene of the 2009 Honduran elections and its relationship with the military-political coup. The theater has two components: the text and the show. The first covers the history, context, time and space, whether real or imaginary. The second the protagonists, antagonists and both active and passive spectators. The military coup is the staging of electoral theater. The curtain opens with the electoral campaign and ends with legal and legitimate elections for the people; if there is electoral fraud, it does not.

On January 27, 2006 the Liberal Party candidate Manuel Zelaya Rosales assumed the Presidency of Honduras,. It is obvious that Zelaya never did have control of the government since the economic, political, religious and military oligarchy has a hegemonic control of the various branches of government, as well as the political, ideological and media apparatus. Consequently Zelaya could never have brought about a coup and become a dictator.

The military coup was strategically focused on Zelaya himself and tried to reduced the problem, through a barrage of propaganda, to the person of the President himself.

But the coup is not about him, it is larger, it is now against the advance of the historical struggle of the Honduran people, currently represented by the National Resistance against the Military Coup.

The coup hegemony is fed by two means: the illegal war of aggression and drama of the elections in November 2009. The political-military coup responds to a joint national and international program designed to use our territory and to sacrifice the civilian population as an experimental theater of incursions and coups in Latin America. It intends to turn Honduras and Mesoamerica into the Vietnam or Afghanistan of the Americas.

Is it legal to have the electoral process under the almost absolute control of the coup forces? Is the Supreme Electoral Tribunal legal? An organism that violates the content of paragraph 2 of Article 52 of the Constitution of the Republic stating that “judges who are nominated for or hold elective office may not be elected to Supreme Electoral Tribunal; a prohibition mentioned as a specific part of the precept challenged as unconstitutional.”

The election of citizens as Magistrates and Deputy Magistrate Judges of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal is contrary to the Constitution of the Republic under which citizens hold elected positions of popular election, the first as third alderman of Tegucigalpa, the second as Congressman to the National Congress from Francisco Morazán and the third as stand-in Congressman. As stated by the Supreme Electoral Tribunal under Agreement No. 24-2005 published in the Official Gazette number 30,886 on 27 December 2005.

And if the Supreme Electoral Court is not legally composed, will the election be legal? Is it legal for the armed forces, who tortured the legitimate President of the Republic Manuel Zelaya Rosales, who expelled him from the country, who violated the Constitution of the Republic? Their history as supporters of the coup is an indicator of the lack of credibility that the Honduran people have on the outcome of future elections.

And couldn’t panic develop in those voters, men, women and youths who faced persecution, torture and whose relatives were killed by military and police forces?

Can elections be legal when the candidates, presidential, Congressional and mayors of both independent groups and the Democratic Unification Party (UD) have been subjected to torture, persecution and murder of some of its members?

And do not they now have more advantage as far as participation and campaigning those that supported the coup, the Liberal, National, and PINU party over the candidates opposed to the military coup?

Are elections legals in which free speech has been gagged? How can you justify the attacks on Diario Tiempo, the bombings against Canal 11, the militarization and closure of Radio Globo, Cholusat Sur, and the death threats against the director and staff of Radio Progreso and the newspaper El Libertador as well as widespread firings of those honest journalists that worked at media outlets that back the current coup government?

The crux of this story that precedes the vote has been violent, dehumanizing, cruel, degrading and blessed by both the evangelical and Catholic hierarchy, with the false message of the invocation of God, dialogue, democracy and peace while at the same time they beat, torture and persecute massively Members of the Resistance, as well as priests, pastors and nuns.

Behind the scenes of the theatrical scene of elections have operated the local oligarchy, international financial capital, material and intellectual authors of the doctrine of National Security, Low Intensity Conflict War and the Irregular War plans of the Pentagon.

The active international spectators of the electoral theater have condemned the Military Coup and have declared that they will not send observers or recognize the election results.

For passive or neutral viewers, Bertolt Brecht once stated: “The worst illiterate is politically illiterate. He hears, speaks, does not participate in political events … The political illiterate is such a donkey that he takes pride in saying that he hates politics. He does not know that from his ignorance is born the prostitute, the abandoned child and the worst of the bandits who are the corrupt politician, punk and lackey of national and multinational companies. ”

The theater curtain has not yet fallen and the future outcome of Honduras are the scenarios which lead to the return of constitutional order, legal and legitimate elections, the installation of the Constituent Assembly and the transformation of the constitution of the Republic to guarantee respect for human rights, food sovereignty and climate justice.

The other scenario is war. In this regard, the same Brecht added “In wartime, virtues become crimes, religion and honor are used precisely to disguise the real purpose of the war, which is to maintain at all costs the exploitation of the people by the aristocracy and the church .. With war, the rancher’s properties increase, alongside the misery of the pool; The General’s speeches increase, and the silence of the common man grows as well.”

Our human and planetary love and the principles of Non-Violence force us to fight so that on our Mother Earth no Honduran woman or man or citizen of the world is the subject of crimes against humanity or violations of human and planetary rights.

The urgent task is to unite all organizations and individuals that make up the resistance and build the most significant political force in Honduras, to fight for a new people, a new society where true democracy of socio-economic equality prevails; mobilize the conscience of peace and social and climactic justice and against irregular warfare and warring nature that plans more coups and irregular warfare in Latin America.

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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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[en] Sandra Cuffe – ‘For the Love of My Country’: Juan Gabriel Figueroa Tomé, another Martyr from the Resistance of Northern Honduras

Sector López Arellano, Choloma, Cortés, Honduras
August 9th, 2009.

by Sandra Cuffe

Juan Gabriel Figueroa Tomé was 30 years old, married, and had two small children. He worked as an employee of the Municipality of Choloma. Together with friends and work colleagues, he participated in the resistance marches and activities against the coup from June 28th itself until his murder in the wee hours before dawn on Saturday, August 8th.

The young worker’s cadaver was found with a bullet wound in the nape of his neck and another wound to his thorax in an area known as La Platanera in the Lopez Arellano Sector of Choloma, Cortés department, Honduras. According to the forensic doctor, Figueroa was murdered at approximately one thirty in the morning on Saturday. His death, however, turned up in the Sunday newspaper not as political news, but in the violent ‘Incidents’ section as but one more nameless statistic among so many other daily murders in the region.

Upon hearing the news of Figueroa’s death, many people walked under the relentless sun along the dirt streets of the López Arellano Sector to the wake at the home of Figueroa’s parents. Even before his body was released from the judicial morgue of San Pedro Sula on Sunday, relatives, friends, neighbours, colleagues, and resistance movement participants began arriving at the house to share the sorrow and express their solidarity with the grieving family.

Photos of Figueroa, smiling and full of life, hung on the walls.

Figueroa’s son was crying in his aunt’s arms, but when asked how old he was, he perked up enough to hold up four fingers on one hand before burying his face into his aunt’s shoulder.

Figueroa’s five-year-old daughter held out her hand in greeting and appeared ecstatic, as though people were filling the humble home for a party, instead of coming to bid farewell to her father, whose body rested in a coffin in the small living room.

“She says that her daddy is sleeping,” explained Figueroa’s mother, when asked what the children understood about the situation.

Between greetings and hugs from other women in the house where she raised her son, Figueroa’s mother spoke about how her son would sometimes go out with friends on weekend nights to set up a small vendor’s stand at soccer games and then have some fun before returning home on his friend’s motorcycle. Acquaintances had seen Figueroa close to midnight at a dance party, while others claimed to have seen him playing pool at around 12:30am in a local pool hall.

Known locally as an extremely dangerous area in the sector, the La Platanera is somewhat removed from the routes between the stadium, the dance party, the pool hall, and Figueroa’s house. His relatives confirmed that he never traveled through that area.

“They took him there because no one recognizes him there,” said Figueroa’s mother. “It wasn’t until later in the morning that someone who knew him passed by and came to tell us,” she explained.

Figueroa’s mother also explained that her son was not killed in the exact location where his body was found, but further down in that same area, where there was “a pool of blood,” she said. He was also found without his identification documents nor the yellow motorcycle he was riding the night of his murder.

The young Juan Gabriel Figueroa Tomé was the only member of his family to actively participate in the resistance movement against the coup. Sobbing, his mother expressed that everyone who knew him is asking why he was murdered, adding that he was a respectful worker who loved his family and his neighbours, and that he was not involved in any criminal or dubious activity.

The López Arellano sector is within the region with the highest murder rate in the country, in a sort of triangle between greater San Pedro Sula, Choloma, and El Progreso. This region with the greatest levels of violence, and also of femicide, coincides with the corredors of maquilas, factories, and tax-exempt Export Processing Zones (ZIPs), in which all kinds of clothing and other consumer goods are factory-made for export, mainly via the country’s principal port Cortés to the United States.

Despite Figueroa’s mother’s questioning of the motive of her son’s murder, one of his best friends asserted that many people have little doubt that Figueroa was killed because of his participation in the actions coordinated by the National Front in Resistance to the Coup, explaining that “since the 28th [of June] we have been there in the resistance – in San Pedro, in Choloma, in the marches, in everything we were there together.”

At two in the afternoon, a funeral mass was held in a local church that same Sunday, August 9th. There were not enough chairs for the throngs of people who attended, and thus many stood along the walls and even outside the church doors.

“Sometimes, we ask ourselves: Why the violence? Sometimes we ask ourselves why he was murdered in this way,” the priest preached.

“This murder was carried out to send a clear message to the people in this sector and in the northern region in general,” remarked a human rights activist and active participant in the resistance movement who attended the funeral in solidarity with Figueroa’s family.

“They are not killing well-known leaders from the Frente or organizations, but instead workers, farmers and teachers who are not well known but who have been actively participating in the resistance,” she explained. “Murdering individuals with whom ordinary people can identify is a clear counterinsurgency tactic to terrorize the population. Furthermore, because of the age of most of the martyrs, the murderers are demonstrating more and more clearly that they view the widespread participation of youth – the majority in this country – as a serious threat.”

Upon leaving the church after the funeral at around three in the afternoon, a friend of Figueroa’s approached with more news. Neighbours had reported that during the wake that same morning, armed men on a motorcycle had been driving back and forth along the street in front of the home of Figueroa, his wife, and their two small children.

Furthermore, Figueroa’s friend explained that neighbours of the area where Figueroa was murdered had already been talking about unknown men on two motorcycles chasing someone through the area at about one in the morning the same night of the murder. According to the second-hand testimonies, the man being chased stopped and shouted that his pursuers could take his motorcycle without a problem, because he would not resist.

“It’s not the chopper we want. It’s you we want,” said his pursuers, according to the neighbours’ testimonies.

“Around here, nobody sees anything – you know, out of fear,” clarified Figueroa’s friend, when asked about the description of the men and the motorcycles. “It may be that people tell of things they have heard during the night, but nobody sees anything…”

The wind blew through the dusty streets, bringing cool relief to the congregation of people getting ready for the funeral procession to Figueroa’s burial in a local cemetary. Many women were crying as they left the church, while the men seemed to attempt to distract themselves from the cries and hugs. As always, the smallest children played and laughed, bringing smiles to the faces of those watching them.

Sitting on the sidewalk outside the church, a local leader of an organization involved with the National Front in Resistance against the Coup in Honduras was talking to someone on his cell phone about the murder, about the ongoing death threats he himself received, and about the thousands of people participating in week-long resistance marches that were nearing the two main cities in the country. It became evident that he had been asked why he and so many thousands of people continued in resistance when they were being met with such strong repression by the de facto government.

“Well, first of all, because I love my country…”

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This article was originally published in Spanish on August 9, 2009. At the request of Juan Gabriel Figueroa Tomé’s family, no photographs were taken. Similarly, out of consideration for both privacy and security, no person has been directly named except for Figueroa himself, considering that both his murder and his participation in the resistance to the coup are already public knowledge.

Sandra Cuffe is an independent journalist and photographer from Canada. She lived in Honduras from 2003 to 2007 and returned to the country on July 3, 2009. She is currently a contributing member of the Dominion (Canada), a contributor to Upside Down World (USA), a correspondent for Defensores En Linea (Honduras), and maintains a bilingual blog: http://HondurasSolidarity.wordpress.com

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