Proposed Amnesty Serves to Whitewash Honduran Coup, CEPR Co-Director Says

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Proposed Amnesty Serves to Whitewash Honduran Coup, CEPR Co-Director Says

Vote Expected Next Week to Absolve Honduran Military of Crimes, Even as Murders Continue

WASHINGTON - The international community should offer no support for planned amnesty for the perpetrators of the Honduran coup, Mark Weisbrot,
Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, said today.
Noting that both ousted President Manuel Zelaya and coup leaders
previously agreed on a deal to resolve the crisis that did not include
amnesty for crimes, Weisbrot cautioned that current efforts to grant
amnesty to the coup leaders would be merely an attempt to "whitewash
the coup."

"The
international community should remember that this is a regime that not
only dealt a deadly blow to Honduran democracy through a military coup,
it has also attempted to turn back time to a dark period of bloody
dictatorships, death squads, disappearances, tortures, and murders,"
Weisbrot said. "Only international pressure will stop these abuses."

The Honduran congress is expected to vote early next week to approve
amnesty for the perpetrators of the June 28 coup d'etat that ousted
President Manuel Zelaya - who is still recognized as the legitimate
president by the international community - and then imposed a
dictatorship. This week the Attorney General, Luis Rubi, stated that
armed forces head General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez and other military
chiefs had violated Honduras' constitution by forcibly deporting
Zelaya, but stopped short of charging them for removing Zelaya from
power or for other crimes including the killing of unarmed
demonstrators and other serious human rights violations.

In reaction to the Attorney General's charges against the military
leaders, President Zelaya issued a statement Wednesday saying that Rubi
is supporting the "impunity of the military by accusing them of lesser
crimes and abuse of authority, and not for serious crimes they have
committed: treason, murder, human rights violations, torture," and that
"it is clear what is being done are preparatory acts for the impunity
of the military and to avoid punishment for the material and
intellectual authors of the military coup."

Since seizing power, the dictatorship has committed an array of human
rights abuses including killings, beatings of demonstrators, detentions
of hundreds of people, and attacks on media outlets. International
human rights groups including Human Rights Watch, Amnesty
International, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and press
freedom groups such as the Committee to Protect Journalists and
Reporters Without Borders have documented and condemned these human
rights crimes since the dictatorship seized power.

This violence continues to the present. As recently as January 6, the
Garifuna radio station Faluma Bimetu was burned down in an arson
attack. Reporters Without Borders stated
that the station "has often been threatened because of its opposition
to last June's coup d'état and to real estate projects in the region."
On December 28, independent journalist César Silva was kidnapped, interrogated, beaten,
and threatened with death before being dumped in a deserted lot the
next day; he has since left Honduras. The week before, Edwin Renán
Fajardo Argueta, a member of Artists in Resistance [to the coup] was
found strangled to death in his apartment; Fajardo had reported
receiving death threats just days before. The attackers removed
computers in both the Fajardo murder and the Faluma Bimetu arson.

The October 30 accord agreed to by Zelaya and Micheletti, which was
intended to lead to the creation of a unity government and resolution
to the crisis, notably did not include an amnesty deal.

"The Honduran regime is hoping to receive amnesty for its crimes, even
as it continues to murder resistance activists," Weisbrot said. "To
allow this would be a green light for more killings."

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The Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) was established in 1999 to promote democratic debate on the most important economic and social issues that affect people's lives. In order for citizens to effectively exercise their voices in a democracy, they should be informed about the problems and choices that they face. CEPR is committed to presenting issues in an accurate and understandable manner, so that the public is better prepared to choose among the various policy options.

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