Thursday, July 30, 2009

Honduran Coup Update from RIGHTS ACTION

By Karen Spring, in Tegucigalpa

An international mission has been formed involving both national and international human rights workers and journalists that are concerned of the “humanitarian emergency” that are occurring in the El Paraíso region close to the Nicaraguan-Honduran border.

The newly formed International Mission of Solidarity, Observation and Accompaniment to Honduras has met with various organizations including Committee in Defense of Human Rights in Honduras (CODEH), Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared (COFADEH) and Treatment and Rehabilitation of the Victims of Torture and their Families (CPTRT). The Mission has decided after one day of being formed to further investigate the variety of human rights violations that have been reported to be occurring at the border region.

“We have received documents that have given us enough information to make the decision to go to the zone where there is a humanitarian emergency to see what is happening there, what the military are hiding, what the police are hiding and the de facto government.”

After announcing their investigation at a press conference held yesterday in the office of COFADEH, participants denounced the reported violations being committed by the de facto Micheletti regime including almost many, the lack of food and water for Hondurans in the El Paraíso region, the imposed military curfew and roadblocks preventing free movement, and illegal detentions of protestors without judicial advice.

One representative, Tom Kucharz from Spanish Ecologistas en Accíon/Transnational Institute, describes the need for more international solidarity and need to verify the situation at the border. “More international attention is needed here. The real information and truth is not being reported. Its necessary that there is a international presence that verifies what is happening .. the media are fundamentally justifying the coup, they are not reporting what is really happening.”

Holding up pictures of a young 24 year-old boy, Pedro Muñoz, whose body was found in the community of Alauca, close to a military blockade, Nora Cortiñas of Madres de la Plaza de Mayo-Linea Fundadora denounced the repression and violence used by the military, mentioning that, “witnesses have said that the body [of Pedro Muñuz] shows signs and evidence of torture (see photos, - WARNING: GRAPHIC PHOTO).

An internationally known Honduran medical doctor and human rights activist known for his work with victims of torture, Dr. Juan Almendares has also spoken out recently of the use of repression and violence the military and police are using to “provoke the people.”

After visiting a detaining station in Danli (20 km?? from the border), Dr. Almendares described the experience of fifty-one people that were being detained, including Rafael Alegría, a well-known leader of the resistance movement, “There were almost forty people in a small room. This is another way to torture the people. It’s a horrible thing, forty people, where there is no space, no water, nothing. It was hell in general. They don’t give them legal counsel. They are putting children in prison; women cannot go to the bathroom. This is another way to terrorize the people.”

Without a way to enter the region, the International Mission and journalists are unable to know the severity of the situation. The media, who are largely pro-coup and Micheletti supporters, are not reporting what is actually occurring in the country.

The International Mission of Solidarity, Observation and Accompaniment to Honduras attempted yesterday to enter the border zone and pass through the military checkpoints. They have been denied entry but will try again in the days to come.

There is still a lot of hope for the struggle for justice and the return of President Zelaya. Hondurans have called a two-day national strike that begins tomorrow where it is projected that many people will take to the streets and protest against the de facto Micheletti regime.

According to Dr. Almendares, “I have spent many years in protests. I know well the mobilization of the people but I have never seen the force, the motivation, and the courage of the people like this. There is an extraordinary movement in this country.”

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