Coup Protestor Gang-Raped by Honduran Police

On Friday, Latin America scholars sent an urgent
to Human Rights Watch, urging HRW to speak out on
violations of human rights under the coup regime in Honduras and to
conduct its own investigation. HRW hasn't made any statement about
Honduras since July 8.

One of the things Human Rights Watch should be investigating is
allegations by Honduran feminists and human rights groups that
Honduran police are using rape and other sexual violence as weapons of
intimidation against Hondurans nonviolently protesting the coup

The Spanish news agency EFEreports:

The group Feministas de Honduras en Resistencia said
Thursday that is has documented 19 instances of rape by police
officers since the June 28 coup that ousted President Mel Zelaya.
There have been many other cases of rape, but the women have not
reported them out of fear of reprisals, Gilda Rivera, the executive
coordinator of the Honduran Center for Women's Rights and head of
Feministas, told Efe.

The activists say that women taking part in the resistance to the coup
are being targeted. "We've obtained testimonials from women who've
been sexually abused, beaten with cudgels on different parts of their
bodies, especially the breasts and buttocks," adds the report
presented Thursday at a press conference in Tegucigalpa.

The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights -- part of the
Organization of American States -- also
reported last week it had testimony
from Hondurans alleging rape
and other sexual violence by the Honduran police. If the IACHR can
obtain this testimony, surely Human Rights Watch can obtain it.

One of the victims, Irma Villanueva, told her story to the Jesuit-run
Radio Progreso. You can listen to the interview [Spanish] here.
Here is an English transcript of the Radio Progreso interview with
Irma Villanueva. [Translation by Maria Soledad Cervantes.]

Irma Villanueva: Good afternoon, last Friday we went to the march --

Host: Friday -- you're talking of the march at Choloma

Irma: Yes, that's right. We went to the march, we stayed there a
while. All of a sudden we saw like a people stampede coming, -- All was
confused, they brought tear gas canisters. Lost myself from my group
in the confusion, they started grabbing us - other persons and myself,
we were forced into a [police] patrol pickup. They said they were
going to Choloma, they came out through some part behind, and I heard
them ask a police officer: "Chepe Luis, and this here [woman], where
is she going?" "She goes to San Pedro," he answered. -- And then -- only
I remained on the flat part [on the bed] of the pickup [starts
sobbing] and ... I don't know where they were bound, because, the cop
kept me pinned face down, immobilized with his foot on my back [sobs],
and they took me to a very cloddy, gritty place [sobs], then took me
down and told me "Now bitch, now you're gonna see what happens to you
for you being where you shouldn't be (starts weeping) I was raped by
four police ... . I managed to see the name of two of them, one was
Ortiz, another's name is Lopez, and the other was the one called Chepe
Luis, the fourth one I couldn't -- didn't find out his name.

After they raped me [themselves], they stuck into me a ... ... that
black thing police strikes you with. They left me lying down in the
open [i.e. in the wilderness] - - I begged them "please, don't hurt
me, I have little children, I implore you! And they insulted me and
called me names, I only asked God to protect me for my children,
because they're young. They left me all alone there. I was
unconscious, I guess, don't know. Then I got up with with what
strength I had [left] and managed to reach the curb of a highway, I
walked for around half an hour. I fell and stayed on the ground
because I couln't stand the pain in my private parts [weeping] ... and
a lady picked me up, I told her please to take me with my mom, don't
know how much time we took, the only thing I could see, we left
through the side of Zincon[ph] ... and I was taken where my mom was
... My mom was already there, and my husband was looking for me. No
... Didn't want to go to the police, how could I if they had been the
ones who injured me. Only -- [she can't go on]

Host: This is so difficult, Irma's situation, Irma Villanueva, 25
years old, a mother of four kids -- and girls? How many [girls] -- ?

Irma: A boy and three girls.

Host: A boy and three girls. She has come here to Radio Progreso
station in order to give her testimony, that we listen to her, that
you our friends, women and men who tune in with us, listen to what
happened to her, what has not come out to the mainstream media, what
everybody keeps silent, in this country, under this de facto
government -- and you do not remember exactly the place where they took
you? and were taken you alone?

Irma: Me alone, several persons were going, men for the most part,
because -- I was going in a corner but me they left on the bed of the
pickup -- and they took only me, I guess me, I was the only woman. I
only remember the place full of branches, trees, with mounts, for as
long as I walked, the mountain blocked the view, and it - When I
managed to get out, I had to walk over some ditches, then like a
little lagoon and I knew it was Ticamaya where I got out as I noted
that we left on the side of Zincon.

Host: And who helped you?

Irma: A lady who was passing by, I stayed lying on the ground as I
couldn't stand the pain in my abdomen [sobs]

Host: Yes

Irma: and she saw I was fallen, and got down and helped me, I asked
her to help me please, and [she asked] could she take me to a hospital
and I said no, that I wanted her to take me with my mom because -- what
could I get in forensic medicine? that they took me with the police,
when they were the ones who did this to me.

Host: That they mock, make fun!

Irma: Yes ... yes, for they were telling horrible things to me, and I
was frightened.

Where is Human Rights Watch?


UPDATE: Human Rights Watch put out a very good statement today (8/25), highlighting the IACHR report, noting, among other things, the sexual assault allegations, and urging the U.S. to exert more pressure for the restoration of democracy. Kudos to Human Rights Watch.

Honduras: Rights Report Shows Need for Increased International Pressure

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