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Two Days After Honduran President Returns to Capital, Amnesty International Reports Rise in Police Beatings, Mass Arbitrary Arrests, Closing of Media Outlets, Harassment of Activists Since Coup

Human Rights Organization Cites "Alarming" Incidents, Including Police Tear Gas Attack Monday on Rights Organization in Capital


Amnesty International reported
today that police beatings, mass arrests of demonstrators and intimidation
of human rights groups have risen sharply in Honduras since the June coup
d'etat, including the firing of tear gas at the building of a prominent
rights group on Monday with 100 men, women and children inside.

Two days after President Jose Manuel Zelaya
Rosales returned to Honduras following a June coup, Amnesty International
warned that fundamental rights and the rule of law in the Central American
nation are in grave jeopardy.

According to reports received by Amnesty
International on Monday morning, about 15 police officers fired tear gas
canisters at the building of the prominent human rights organization COFADEH.
Around 100 people, including women and children, were inside the office
at the time. Many had come to denounce police abuses during the break up
of a demonstration earlier outside the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa,
where ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has taken refuge.

"The situation in Honduras can only be described as alarming," said Susan
Lee, Americas director at Amnesty International. "The attacks against
human rights defenders, suspension of news outlets, beating of demonstrators
by the police and ever increasing reports of mass arrests indicate that
human rights and the rule of law in Honduras are at grave risk."

"The only way forward is for the de facto authorities to stop the
policy of repression and violence and instead respect the rights of freedom
of expression and association," said Lee. "We also urge the international
community to urgently seek a solution, before Honduras sinks even deeper
into a human rights crisis."

Following the break up by police of a mass demonstration outside the Brazilian
Embassy yesterday, numerous demonstrators were reported to have been beaten
by police and some several hundred detained across the city. Reports also
indicated similar scenes of human rights violations across the country.

Amnesty International received information that dozens of protestors were
taken to unauthorized detention sites across the capital last night. Although
most of those detained have been released, mass arbitrary arrests may make
those detained vulnerable to human rights abuses such as ill-treatment,
torture or enforced disappearance.

Amnesty International has documented the limits which have been imposed
on freedom of expression since the coup d'etat, including the closure
of media outlets, the confiscation of equipment and physical abuse of journalists
and camerapersons covering events. Radio Globo and TV channel 36 yesterday
suffered power stoppages or constant interruptions to their transmissions
which prevented them from broadcasting.

Background Information

Concerns about human rights in Honduras have intensified since the democratically
elected President Jose Manuel Zelaya Rosales was forced from power on June
28 and expelled from the country by a military-backed group of politicians
led by Roberto Micheletti, former leader of the National Congress. There
has been widespread unrest in the country since the coup d'etat with
frequent clashes between the police, military and civilian protestors.
At least two people have died after being shot during protests.

President Zelaya returned to the country on Monday September 21 and is
currently in residence at the Brazilian Embassy in Tegucigalpa, the capital
of Honduras.

On August 19, Amnesty International published
testimonies and evidence, which documented excessive use of force and beating
of protestors by police. In the report, Honduras: Human rights
crisis threatens, as violence and repression increase
, Amnesty International
produced evidence confirmed from first hand testimony that detention and
ill treatment of peaceful protestors are being employed as
form of punishment against those openly
opposing the de facto government. Other protestors who support the
de facto regime did not suffer the same abuses from security forces.
Evidence contained in the report shows that during the mass arrests of
protestors by the police and military, some women and girls were subjected
to gender-based violence. At least two people have died after being shot
by firearms allegedly by police or members of the military during protests.

Amnesty International is a worldwide movement of people who campaign for internationally recognized human rights for all. Our supporters are outraged by human rights abuses but inspired by hope for a better world - so we work to improve human rights through campaigning and international solidarity. We have more than 2.2 million members and subscribers in more than 150 countries and regions and we coordinate this support to act for justice on a wide range of issues.