Monday, January 25, 2010

Letter against the human rights abuses in post-coup Honduras

The Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network has endorsed this letter:

We, the undersigned workers, artists, & intellectuals, strongly condemn the widespread human rights atrocities against the Honduran people, beginning with the military coup on June 28th of 2009. Reports from human rights organizations emerge every day detailing state repression, from rape to assassination, of members of the non-violent resistance, whose aim is to restore constitutional order to their country and foster the creation of a more just society.

These abuses by the Honduran state violate nearly every article of the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Honduras is a signatory, beginning with the rupture of constitutional order and resulting in thousands of rights violations.

As recognized by the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, and documented extensively by COFADEH, Honduras’ leading human rights organization, the coup regime has demonstrated a premeditated pattern of violent tactics with which it aims to quell the resistance to the coup:

* Mass detentions in subhuman prison facilities
* The repression of assembly and mobility by means of excessive force
* The establishment of curfews and the suspension of constitutional guarantees
* Rape and gang rape
* Targeted assassinations
* The censorship of media by means of threatening and killing journalists, employing blackouts, confiscating equipment, & the outright closure of anti-coup TV and Radio stations
* Torture
* Disappearance and kidnapping
* Psychological warfare
* Impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes

Though these acts have been carried out by the police and the armed forces, there has been an alarming increase in the use of paramilitary personnel. The United Nations reported that some 40 ex-members of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia — Latin America’s largest paramilitary outfit, & terrorist organization as designated by the US State Department — had been employed by Honduran landowners. An increasing number of assassinations and abductions have been carried out by unidentified agents.

This repression has disproportionately targeted marginalized communities, such as indigenous, campesino, & afro-Honduran groups. The LGBT community, for one, recently lost one of its young leaders, Walter Trochez, 27, gunned down by masked assailants on December 13th. Trochez’ murder is the sixteenth suffered by the LGBT community since the overthrow of Zelaya.

On December 11th, the body of Santos Corrales Garcia appeared decapitated in a neighborhood outside of Tegucigalpa. Garcia was a local leader of the non-violent resistance, and had been detained six days earlier by heavily armed members of the National Criminal Investigation Division. Garcia’s body showed signs of torture, indicative of a low-intensity campaign to create collective fear, according to human rights advocate Andres Pavon.

Violence against women has also escalated greatly. As written in the Christian Science Monitor: “As of August, women’s groups in Honduras have documented 249 cases of violations of women’s human rights, including 23 cases of beatings and sexual assault and seven gang rapes by police explicitly trying to “punish” women for their involvement in demonstrations.  The number of femicides –the violent murder of women because they are women – has tripled since the coup, with 51 cases reported during the month of July alone.”

In the face of all this, the regime held elections on November 29th, resulting in the “victory” of Pepe Lobo of the National Party. The sharp rise in brutality in the aftermath of the elections indicates that this may have been the worst thing for the human rights situation in Honduras, as powerful governments in the hemisphere — namely the United States, Canada, and Colombia — have used the elections as an opportunity to whitewash the coup. An ardent supporter of the overthrow of Zelaya, Lobo is already pursuing a general amnesty for its perpetrators.

For those governments that deal with Honduras, particularly the United States, this must be considered unacceptable and dealt with according to national and international law. The unwillingness to condemn the military regime for its thousands of human rights abuses demonstrates a capitulation to the coup, its repressive tactics, and its impact on Honduran democracy and civil society. To remain silent here is to condone the use of military repression against unarmed populations, and to encourage its use in future instances.

It is the moral imperative of the international community to demand the immediate end of the brutality in Honduras, and that the human rights of all citizens, particularly those involved in political activity, be respected without conditions.


Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics
National Committee in Solidarity with the Honduran People
National Lawyers Guild
School of the Americas Watch
Aviva Chomsky, Professor of History
Hondurans for Democracy
Alliance for Global Justice
Nicaragua Network
Campaign for Labor Rights
Venezuela Solidarity Campaign
La Voz de los de Abajo
Rights Action
Boston May Day Coalition
Proyecto HondureƱo
Mass Global Action
Boston Liberation Health Group
United for Justice with Peace, the Greater Boston coalition
Somerville/Medford United for Justice with Peace
Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition
Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network