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Honduran Government Denounced for Using 'Dangerous and Illegal Tactics' to Silence Dissent

"Honduras seems to be on a very dangerous free fall where ordinary people are the victims of reckless and selfish political games," Amnesty International warns amid crackdown on mass protests over allegations of election fraud

honduras protest

The former Honduran president Manuel Zelaya, center, leads a march demanding President Juan Orlando Hernández’s resignation in Tegucigalpa on 5 June. (Photo: Orlando Sierra/AFP/Getty Images)

As Honduras' right-wing government continues to crack down on dissenting voices amid widespread violence and national protests over allegations of election fraud in last month's presidential election, Amnesty International is calling on officials to immediately stop "deploying dangerous and illegal tactics to silence any dissenting voices," while the nation's former president blames the United States, which backed the 2009 coup that ousted him from power, for creating "a military state."

"Evidence shows that there is no space for people in Honduras to express their opinions. When they do, they come face to face with the full force of the government's repressive apparatus."
—Erika Guevara-Rosas, Amnesty International

Efforts to silence opponents of incumbent President Juan Orlando Hernández have continued, as protesters pour into the streets in spite of a government-imposed curfew, under which Amnesty says "security forces operated with the greatest impunity."

Even as some members of the Honduran National Police force have started refusing to follow orders to quash protests because, as a spokesperson said, they "don't want to repress and violate the rights of the Honduran people," the violence has persisted.

"Honduras seems to be on a very dangerous free fall where ordinary people are the victims of reckless and selfish political games," said Erika Guevara-Rosas, Americas director at Amnesty International. "Evidence shows that there is no space for people in Honduras to express their opinions. When they do, they come face to face with the full force of the government's repressive apparatus."

Amnesty International sent a delegation to Tegucigalpa, the Honduran capitol, following the Nov. 26 election to meet with activists, victims of violence, and police officers. The group has "documented a plethora of human rights violations against protesters and other people" as well as at least 14 deaths since the protests broke out after the election.

Guevara-Rosas urged the Honduran government to "start undoing some of the many wrongs documented in recent days" by "halting all use of illegitimate or excessive force against protesters by security forces, ending arbitrary detentions, and investigating all instances of human rights violations."

In an exclusive interview with Democracy Now!, Manuel Zelaya—who was ousted by a U.S.-backed coup in 2009—urged protesters to maintain their presence in the streets, and called on Hernández and the Honduran government to count the votes. The former president says the protesters "know that [leftist coalition leader] Salvador Nasralla won the election," but Hernández, a "reliable" U.S. ally, has remained in power because of U.S. influence over Honduran institutions.

"Since the coup d'état, the United States has done what it wants with this country," Zelaya said. "They changed all the laws. This is a military state, with laws like Plan Colombia, like the laws in Iraq and Afghanistan. That is what's happening in Honduras. And they've done away with guarantees and with respect. What's being done in this country is unjust."

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