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For Immediate Release

Latin American Experts

Greg Grandin,
Adrienne Pine, 202-652-5601

Press Release

Over 90 Experts Call on Human Rights Watch to Speak Out on Honduras Abuses


93 scholars
and Latin America experts from institutions such as Yale, Harvard, and
New York University sent an open letter to Human Rights Watch today
urging the organization to highlight various human rights violations in
Honduras under the coup regime, and to conduct its own investigation.
The signers, who include well-known experts on Latin America such as
Eric Hershberg, John Womack, Jr., and Greg Grandin, Honduras experts
such as Dana Frank and Adrienne Pine, and well-known authors including
Noam Chomsky, John Pilger, and Naomi Klein, note that Human Rights
Watch could help force the Obama administration to denounce the abuses
and put greater pressure on the regime. Highlighting
"politically-motivated killings, hundreds of arbitrary detentions, the
violent repression of unarmed demonstrators, mass arrests of political
opposition, and other violations of basic human rights," the letter
notes that Human Rights Watch has not issued a statement or release on
the situation in Honduras since July 8, a little over a week following
the June 28 coup d'etat.

The signers write, "...the coup could easily be overturned, if the Obama
administration sought to do so, by taking more decisive measures, such
as canceling all U.S. visas and freezing U.S. bank accounts of leaders
of the coup regime."

The letter comes just a day after Amnesty International issued a new report on the coup regime's violations of human
rights in cracking down on protests, and as the Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights (part of the Organization of American
States) wraps up a fact-finding delegation to Honduras. The author of
the Amnesty International report, Esther Major, has stated


that the report was
released to call on the international community to take action to
"prevent a human rights crisis occurring in Honduras."

The full text of the letter follows:

August 21, 2009

Kenneth Roth
Executive Director
Human Rights Watch

Dear Mr. Roth,

We are deeply concerned by the absence of statements and reports from
your organization over the serious and systematic human rights abuses
that have been committed under the Honduran coup regime over the past
six weeks. It is disappointing to see that in the weeks since July 8,
when Human Rights Watch issued its most recent press release on
Honduras [1], that it has not raised the alarm over the
extra-judicial killings, arbitrary detentions, physical assaults, and
attacks on the press - many of which have been thoroughly documented -
that have occurred in Honduras, in most cases by the coup regime
against the supporters of the democratic and constitutional government
of Manuel Zelaya. We call on your organization to fulfill your
important role as a guardian of universal human rights and condemn,
strongly and forcefully, the ongoing abuses being committed by the
illegal regime in Honduras. We also ask that you conduct your own
investigation of these crimes.

While Human Rights Watch [2] was quick to condemn the illegal coup
d'etat of June 28 and the human rights violations that occurred over
the following week, which helped shine the spotlight of international
media on these abuses, the absence of statements from your organization
since the week following the coup has contributed to the failure of
international media to report on subsequent abuses.

The coup regime's violent repression in Honduras has not stopped.
Well-respected human rights organizations in Honduras, such as the
Committee for the Relatives of the Disappeared Detainees (COFADEH), and international human rights monitors have documented a series of
politically-motivated killings, hundreds of arbitrary detentions, the
violent repression of unarmed demonstrators, mass arrests of political
opposition, and other violations of basic human rights under the coup
regime. The killing of anti-coup activists has beendocumented in pressreports,
bringing to a total of ten people known or suspected to have been
killed in connection to their political activities. Press freedom
watchdogs such as Reporters Without Borders and the Committee to
Protect Journalists have issued releases decrying the regime's attacks
and threats against various journalists and the temporary closure and
military occupation of news outlets. Various NGO's have issued alerts
regarding the politically motivated threats to individuals, and concern
for people detained by the regime, but no such statements have come
from Human Rights Watch.

This situation is all the more tragic in that the coup could easily be
overturned, if the Obama administration sought to do so, by taking more
decisive measures, such as canceling all U.S. visas and freezing U.S.
bank accounts of leaders of the coup regime. Yet not only does the
administration continue to prop up the regime with aid money through
the Millennium Challenge Account and other sources, but the U.S.
continues to train Honduran military students at the Western
Hemispheric Institute for Security Cooperation (WHINSEC) - the
notorious institution formerly known as the School of the Americas. If
the coup were overturned, and the democratically elected government
restored, it is clear that the many rampant human rights abuses would
immediately cease. If Human Rights Watch would raise its voice, it
would be much more difficult for the Obama administration to ignore
Honduras' human rights situation and maintain financial and other
support for its illegal regime.

We know that there are, sadly, innumerable urgent human rights crises
around the world, all of which require your attention. Addressing the
deteriorating situation in Honduras, however, is of paramount
importance given its potential to serve as a precedent for other coups
and the rise of other dictatorships, not just in Honduras, but
throughout the region. History has shown that such coups leave deep
scars on societies, and that far too often they have led to the rise of
some of history's most notorious rights abusers, such as in Pinochet's
Chile, Videla's Argentina, and Cedras' Haiti, to name but a few. As
human rights defenders with extensive experience in dealing with the
appalling human consequences of these regimes, Human Rights Watch is
clearly well placed to understand the urgency of condemning the
Honduran regime's abuses and to helping ensure the coup is overturned,
that democracy is restored, and that political repression and other
human rights abuses are stopped. Your colleagues in the Honduran human
rights community are counting on you, as are the Honduran people. We
hope you will raise your voice on Honduras.


Leisy Abrego
University of California President's Postdoctoral Fellow
UC Irvine

Paul Almeida
Associate Professor, Department of Sociology
Texas A&M University

Alejandro Alvarez Béjar
Professor, Economic Faculty

Tim Anderson
Senior Lecturer in Political Economy
University of Sydney

Anthony Arnove
Author and Editor
Brooklyn, NY

Marc Becker
Truman State University
Kirksville, MO

Marjorie Becker
Associate professor, Department of History
University of Southern California

John Beverley
Professor of Spanish and Latin American Literature and Cultural Studies
University of Pittsburgh

Larry Birns
Director, Council on Hemispheric Affairs
Washington, DC
Jefferson Boyer
Professor of Anthropology (ethnography of Honduras)
Appalachian State University
Jules Boykoff
Associate Professor of Political Science
Pacific University

Edward T. Brett
Professor of History
La Roche College, Pittsburgh, PA

Renate Bridenthal
Professor of History, Emerita
Brooklyn College, CUNY

Bob Buzzanco
Professor of History
University of Houston

Aviva Chomsky
Professor of History and Coordinator, Latin American Studies
Salem State College

Noam Chomsky
Professor of Linguistics
Massachusetts Institute of Technology

James D. Cockcroft
Honorary Editor, Latin American Perspectives

Daniel Aldana Cohen
Graduate Student
New York University

Mike Davis
Distinguished Professor of Creative Writing
University of California-Riverside

Pablo Delano
Professor of Fine Arts
Trinity College , Hartford CT

Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz
Professor Emeritus
California State University

Luis Duno-Gottberg
Rice University
Les W. Field
Professor of Anthropology
The University of New Mexico

Dana Frank
Professor of History
University of California, Santa Cruz

Todd Gordon
Department of Political Science
York University, Toronto
Manu Goswami
Department of History
New York University
Jeff Gould
Rudy Professor of History
Indiana University

Greg Grandin
Department of History
New York University

Richard Grossman
Department of History
Northeastern Illinois University

Peter Hallward
Professor of Modern European Philosophy
Middlesex University, UK.

Nora Hamilton
Professor, Political Science
University of Southern California

Jim Handy
Professor of History
University of Saskatchewan

Tom Hayden

Doug Henwood
Editor and Publisher
Left Business Observer

Eric Hershberg
Simon Fraser University
Vancouver, Canada

Kathryn Hicks
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
The University of Memphis
Irene B. Hodgson
Professor of Spanish,  Director of the Latin American Studies Minor
Interim Director of the Academic Service Learning Semesters
Xavier University

Forrest Hylton
Assistant Professor of Political Science/Int'l. Relations
Universidad de los Andes (Colombia)

Susanne Jonas
Latin America and Latino Studies
University of California, Santa Cruz

Rosemary A. Joyce
Richard and Rhoda Goldman Distinguished Professor of Social Sciences,
Professor and Chair of Anthropology
University of California , Berkeley

Karen Kampwirth
Knox College

Naomi Klein
Journalist, syndicated columnist and author

Andrew H. Lee
Librarian for History, European Studies, Iberian Studies, & Politics
Bobst Library
New York University

Catherine LeGrand
Associate Professor
Dept. of History, McGill University.

Deborah Levenson
Associate Professor of History
Boston College

Frederick B. Mills
Professor of Philosophy
Bowie State University

Cynthia E. Milton
Chaire de recherche du Canada en histoire de l'Amérique latine
Canada Research Chair in Latin American History, Professeure
agregée/Associate Professor, Département d'histoire
Université de Montréal

Lena Mortensen
Assistant Professor, Anthropology
University of Toronto Scarborough

Carole Nagengast
Department of Anthropology
University of New Mexico

Robert Naiman
Policy Director
Just Foreign Policy

Marysa Navarro
Charles Collis Professor of History
Dartmouth College

Sharon Erickson Nepstad
Professor of Sociology
University of New Mexico

Mary Nolan
Professor, Department of History
New York University

Elizabeth Oglesby
Assistant Professor
School of Geography and Development
Center for Latin American Studies
University of Arizona

Jocelyn Olcott
Department of History
Duke University

Christian Parenti
Contributing Editor, The Nation
Visiting Scholar
CUNY Graduate Center
Ivette Perfecto
University of Michigan
Héctor Perla Jr.
Assistant Professor
Latin American and Latino Studies
University of California, Santa Cruz

John Pilger
Journalist and documentary filmmaker

Adrienne Pine
Assistant Professor of Anthropology
American University

Deborah Poole
Professor, Anthropology
Johns Hopkins University

Suyapa Portillo
Pomona College
History Dept.

Vijay Prashad
George and Martha Kellner Chair in South Asian History and Professor of
International Studies
Trinity College

Margaret Randall
Feminist poet, writer, photographer and social activist

Marcus Rediker
Professor and Chair in the Department of History
University of Pittsburgh

Gerardo Renique
Associate Professor, Department of History
City College of the City University of New York

Ken Roberts
Professor, Department of Government
Cornell University

Nancy Romer
Professor of Psychology
Brooklyn College
City University of New York
Seth Sandronsky
U.S. journalist

Aaron Schneider
Assistant Professor
Political Science
Tulane University

Rebecca Schreiber
Associate Professor, American Studies Department
University of New Mexico

Ernesto Seman
Richard Stahler-Sholk
Professor, Department of Political Science
Eastern Michigan University

Julie Stewart
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology
Assistant Investigator, Institute of Public and International Affairs
University of Utah

Sylvia N. Tesh
Lecturer, Latin American Studies
University of Arizona.

Miguel Tinker Salas
Professor of History
Pomona College

Mayo C. Toruño
Professor of Economics
California State University, San Bernardino

Sheila R. Tully
San Francisco State University

John Vandermeer
Asa Gray Distinguished University Professor
Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology
University of Michigan

Jocelyn S. Viterna
Assistant Professor
Departments of Sociology and Social Studies Harvard University

Steven S. Volk
Professor, Department of History
Director, Center for Teaching Innovation and Excellence (CTIE)
Oberlin College

Maurice L. Wade
Professor of Philosophy, International Studies, and Graduate Public
Policy Studies
Trinity College

Shannon Drysdale Walsh
Fulbright-Hays Fellow
Doctoral Candidate
Department of Political Science
University of Notre Dame

Jeffery R. Webber
Assistant Professor, Political Science
University of Regina, Canada

Barbara Weinstein
Professor, Department of History
New York University

Mark Weisbrot
Center for Economic and Policy Research

Gregory Wilpert
Adjunct Professor of Political Science
Brooklyn College

Sonja Wolf
Institute of Social Research
National Autonomous University of Mexico

John Womack, Jr.
Professor of History, Emeritus
Harvard University

Elisabeth Wood
Professor of Political Science
Yale University

Richard L. Wood
Associate Professor
Department of Sociology
University of New Mexico

Marilyn B. Young
Professor of History
New York University

Marc Zimmerman
Modern and Classical Languages
University of Houston

1). Human Rights Watch, "Honduras:
Evidence Suggests Soldiers Shot Into Unarmed Crowd." July 8, 2009.
Found at
Human Rights Watch, "Honduras: Military Coup a Blow to Democracy." June
28, 2009. Found at

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