Women Nobel Peace Laureates & Women’s Rights Leaders Urge Secretary of State Clinton to Condemn Violence Against Women in Honduras

For Immediate Release

Women Nobel Peace Laureates & Women’s Rights Leaders
Contact: 

Rachel Vincent, Nobel Women’s Initiative, 613-276-9030
Lisa VeneKlasen, Just Associates, 202-232-1211

Women Nobel Peace Laureates & Women’s Rights Leaders Urge Secretary of State Clinton to Condemn Violence Against Women in Honduras

WASHINGTON - More
than 175 human rights and feminist leaders--including three Nobel Peace
Prize winners and leaders of national and international women’s
organizations—today sent an Open Letter to Secretary of State Hillary
Clinton today, urging her to condemn widespread violations of women’s
human rights in Honduras.

“In
the lead up to the November 29 elections, we are extremely concerned
about the increase in a pattern of repression and abuse of women at the
hands of the de facto regime, especially women who form part of the
opposition to the coup,” said Nobel Laureate Jody Williams. “Recent
reports that the deployment of troops and police has intensified, and
women opposition leaders are being targeted, should give the US
government ample reason to reconsider its apparent willingness to
endorse the elections as legitimate.”

Williams
received the Nobel in 1997 for her prominent role in the international
campaign to ban the use of anti-personnel landmines and has worked
extensively in Central America to promote peace and human rights.

“Given
Secretary Clinton’s commitment to women’s rights and her pledge to
fight violence against women, we are asking her to speak out about the
dangerous and appalling situation faced by Honduran women, ” she added.

The
letter was also signed by Rigoberta Menchu, who was awarded the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1992 for her work in advancing reconciliation following
Guatemala’s civil war, and by Mairead Maguire, who received the Nobel
Peace Prize in 1976 for her efforts to promote a peaceful resolution to
the civil conflict in Northern Ireland.

Other
signatories to the letter include Mary Robinson, the former President
of Ireland and the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights from 1997 to
2002.

Human
rights organizations have noted a sharp rise in violations against
women since the June 28 military coup d’état in Honduras. The letter
summarizes 240 cases of violations of women’s human rights recently
presented before the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. These
include physical abuse, sexual abuse, rape, sexual harassment, threats,
arbitrary detentions, a rise in femicides, the closure of feminist
radio programs and other media, and impunity for crimes against women.

It
concludes, “We urge you to condemn the orchestrated campaign of
violence against women being waged by the current de facto regime.
Finally, we urge you to insist on a withdrawal of armed forces from the
streets, neighborhoods, and homes of Honduras.”

Honduras
has national elections scheduled for November 29, which are being
actively boycotted by Honduran women’s groups. The letter states that
free and fair elections cannot take place under current conditions.

“Hastily
improvised elections—without the full participation of Honduran
society, international recognition, or the reinstatement of the elected
president—cannot be free or fair and do not guarantee a return to rule
of law. Only a return to rule of law can reestablish legal institutions
for redress of human rights violations and end the current situation of
impunity for crimes against women."

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