Honduras: Urgent Action and Update
ACTION: TODAY IS THE LAST CHANCE TO CALL YOUR CONGRESSIONAL REPRESENTATIVE TO SIGN ONTO A CONGRESSIONAL LETTER ON HUMAN RIGHTS AND DUE PROCESS IN HONDURAS. CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ACTION ALERT (note in our original action alert, we had May 9th listed as the deadline, but it was extended until today, May 21st). Contact Bethany Loberg at firstname.lastname@example.org for a list of congress people who have signed on and key congress people to call!
UPDATE: Human rights violations continue in Honduras, even in the halls of the Honduran Congress.
Since the November elections, the situation of human rights violations in Honduras has only intensified. Social movement activists, environmentalists, lawyers, campesinos, and journalists continue to receive threats and even to be murdered at an alarming rate. At the beginning of April, Carlos Hilario Mejía Orellana marketing director of Jesuit sponsored Radio Progreso was stabbed to death in his own home. The Radio station spoke out strongly against the coup and has offered a space for the voices of communities and social movement leaders, though not directly for any political parties. The radio has received many threats and the Inter-American Human Rights Commission repeatedly called for protectionary measures for 16 radio staff members, including Orellana. Some SHARE and Sister Cities delegates visited Radio Progreso last November and met with director Jesuit priest Ismael Moreno. Father Melo stated that the murder was “a direct attack not only on the life of our colleague, but a frontal attack on the work produced by Radio Progreso.”
Near the end of April, the Honduran government sent a letter to the Inter-American Human Rights Commission, requesting that protectionary measures for human rights leaders be withdrawn, stating that the conditions that generated the need for the measures no longer exist, the political conflict of 2009 has been satisfactorily resolved and the November elections offer proof of this.
However, the killings continue. On May 3rd anti-mining activist Rigoberto López Hernández was brutally murdered – his throat slit and tongue cut out – a clear message to his community.
Last week in the most shocking public incident yet, the president of the Honduran congress ordered Honduran security forces to attack both congressional representatives from the LIBRE party and demonstrators gathered outside the legislature. Near 4p.m. on May 13th, members of the military police and the military surrounded congressional representatives from the LIBRE party INSIDE THE HALL OF SESSIONS OF THE NATIONAL CONGRESS, beat them with batons, sprayed them with tear gas, and forced them out of the building. The subject for discussion that day in the congress? The naming and election of the members of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the government institution that oversees the Honduran elections. Bertha Oliva, director of COFADEH, the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared, called the current government “a dictatorship disguised as a democracy.” This most recent event begins to lift that veil.
Nevertheless, the Honduran government and press are portraying the incident as police response to violent protesters, which members of LIBRE and international solidarity present at the time decry as a cover-up of the events. Little international attention has been brought to the incident, or to the general situation of human rights violations, with media keeping the public eye focused elsewhere.
The Inter-American Human Rights Commission clearly disagrees with the government’s view that protectionary measures are no longer necessary, as on May 8th the Commission issued new protectionary measures for 123 campesino leaders in the lower Aguan region, which has been particularly conflictive, with large landowners in the region targeting campesino groups working for land access with repression. This week the Inter-American Human Rights Commission also expressed concern regarding the high levels of assassinations of children and youth throughout Honduras.
For a further reports in English on the human rights situation in Honduras, visit the following sites: