The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Dan Beeton, 202-239-1460

Honduras' Most Prominent Human Rights Expert Calls on Obama Administration to Denounce 'Grave Human Rights Violations'

Too Late to Have Free Elections This Month, She Says from Washington


Bertha Oliva, the
head of Honduras' most well-known and respected human rights
organization, called on the Obama administration to denounce the "grave
human right violations" in Honduras.

"How can it be that the United States government is silent while
Hondurans are subjected to arbitrary arrest, the closure of independent
media, police beatings, torture and even killings by security forces?"
asked Oliva.

Oliva is the General Coordinator of COFADEH, the Committee of Relatives
of the Disappeared and Detained in Honduras. She is currently in
Washington, D.C., to brief Members of Congress, their staff, and other
policy makers on the situation in Honduras.

Oliva's grim assessment of human rights and civil liberties under the
more than four months of coup government is shared by major
international human rights groups such as Human
Rights Watch, Amnesty
, the OAS Inter-American
Commission on Human Rights
(IACHR), and others.

"And now the U.S. government says we can have free elections in less
than three weeks," said Oliva. "That is a sick joke." On Tuesday, U.S.
Assistant Secretary of State Thomas Shannon announced that the United
States would recognize the November 29 elections even if President
Zelaya, who was overthrown in a coup d'etat on June 28, had not first
been restored to office. The vast majority of other countries in the
hemisphere, including South American nations and Mexico, have stated
that they will not recognize the November 29 elections unless Zelaya is
back in the presidency.

Oliva noted that Honduran law provides for a three-month election
campaign period, but that more than two thirds of it was gone. "People
cannot have an electoral campaign when they don't even have the right
to freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, or freedom of the press,"
she said.

"It's too late to have elections on November 29," said Oliva. "If the
coup government goes ahead with this, these elections will have no

Oliva recommended that the elections be postponed until at least three
months after civil liberties and democracy - including the elected
president - had been restored.

COFADEH and the Washington based Center for Justice and International
Law have presented the following documented cases to the IACHR: nine
deaths of demonstrators at the hands of police or military; 1228
arrests in just the last 45 days under the suspension of civil
liberties; 546 cases of degrading and inhumane torture and cruel

Bertha Oliva is available for interviews with the press
today and Friday - contact Dan Beeton at 202-239-1460 for arrangements.

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