Denounce the Human Rights Abuses in Honduras

For Immediate Release

Contact: 

Lisa Sullivan at 011-251-935-0182 (from within USA) or at info@soaw.org

Denounce the Human Rights Abuses in Honduras

WASHINGTON - The situation in Honduras turned violent when over
10,000
people gathered in the streets to protest the coup Monday evening.
Using tear gas, high-powered water and guns (it is still not clear
whether soldiers were
armed with rubber bullets or otherwise) many people were wounded and
there has been one confirmed death in the capital, Tegucigalpa.
In the capital, pro-coup marches are occurring, defended by the police
and national guard.  As of Tuesday morning, the resistance movement to
the coup is gathering in Tegucigalpa, to determine how and where to
take to the streets.  Therefore, there is anticipation of violence
today, as soldiers are expected to react violently today to protesters
as they did yesterday.

Violence
has also broken out outside of Tegucigalpa.  In the interior of the
country, especially in the state of Olancho, the military has been
conducting home invasions in order to capture and detain youth.  Many
youth have fled to the mountains, and their whereabouts are unknown. 
The military is violently disbursing pro-Zelaya marches, and many
protesters are missing.  The local media is refusing to air any
comments about the violence and human rights abuses taking place in the
country, insisting that nothing is amiss.  An international news crew
from TeleSur was detained and beaten while
broadcasting the oppression of protesters by the military.

Yesterday in a meeting of the Rio Group, President Zelaya reiterated
that he is the only president of Honduras, and that he has not stepped
down.  He declared his plans to return to Honduras on Thursday, mostly
likely accompanied by the Secretary-General of the Organization of
American States (OAS), José Miguel Insulza.  Argentine president
Cristina Fernandez also plans to accompany Zelaya on Thursday.  The
coup in Honduras has been unanimously
condemned throughout the Western Hemisphere, and has also been
condemned by the United Nations and European Union.  Zelaya spoke on
Tuesday in front of the United Nations.

Notably, two army battalions have refused orders from the coup government. They are the Fourth Infantry Battalion in
the city of Tela and the Tenth Infantry Battalion in La Ceiba (the
second largest city in Honduras), both located in the state of
Atlantida.

The
coup leaders include several well-known human rights abusers, such as
the retired Captain Billy Fernando Joya Amendola, who was a member of
the CIA-trained 3-16 batallion from 1984-91, one of the most notorious
battalions noted for human rights abuses during that time.. Bertha
Olivar, of COFADEH, calls the coup advisers a line-up of the "Galley of
Terror".  Furthermore, two coup leaders, Air Force Commander General
Luis Javier Prince Suazo and Army General Romeo Vasquez Velasquez, were
trained at the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation
(WHINSEC, Formerly known as the School of the Americas--SOA), a US army
school located in Fort Benning, GA, whose graduates have been linked to
some of the largest human rights atrocities in Latin America's history.

COFADEH
(Comité de Familiares de Detenidos y Desaparecidos en Honduras or
the Honduran Committee of Families of the Disappeared or Detained), a
leading Human Rights group in Honduras, has gone hospital to hospital
attempting to document
the cases of violence and human rights abuses. They are conducting this
documentation work because the national Human
Rights Commission, headed by Ramon Custodio and the Fiscal
(Attorney General), Sandra Ponce, have thus far refused to document and
denounce human rights abuses since the coup began Monday morning and
are fully supporting the coup government.

One
of the first moves of the the army and de facto government was to cut
electricity and telephone lines throughout most of the country. Later
Monday two television channels were re-established, both of which
maintained that Zelaya had voluntary resigned, the change of power was
constitutionally legitimate and that the new President had the support
of the majority of the Honduran people. Through TeleSur, a
transnational South American television news station, the public in
South America has been able to see on the ground footage of protests in
Honduras as well as streamed footage from the Honduran pro-coup news
stations. Hondurans within their country are much less informed than
larger Latin America because the coup government has been able to stop
TeleSur from broadcasting. Information is arriving to Honduran people
about the whereabouts of President Manuel Zelaya and the vast
international support he has by way of people from outside Honduras
calling to cell phones of friends and family inside who are inside the
country. The biggest issue now are human rights abuses inside the
country.

COFADEH calls on the international human rights
community to denounce the blatant disregard of human rights abuses by
Ramon Custodio and Sandra Ponce. 

Bertha Olivar, of COFADEH,
is available for interviews (in Spanish) by the media.  She can be
reached in Honduras at 011-504-8991-0259 (cell) or 011-501-222-7144
(land line).

School of the Americas Watch, Latin American Office
Barquisimeto, Venezuela

 

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SOA Watch is an independent organization that seeks to close the US Army School of the Americas, under whatever name it is called, through vigils and fasts, demonstrations and nonviolent protest, as well as media and legislative work.

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