Saturday, July 24, 2010

Honduras: I came from Canada because human rights have no borders

By Ida Garberi
Wednesday, July 21, 2010


“The truth should transcend frontiers. I came to support the fight for human rights” said the Craig Scott, member of the True Commission** promoted by the Platform for Human Rights. Scott is a Canadian Professor specialising in public and private international law, with a particular emphasis on human rights.

“Where you have justice you have no crime, and where there is crime, there is no press freedom; where there is crime, they hide it.” Fidel Castro.

“I am very happy to be in the True Commission. I am very optimistic about our work. We are a good group, whether we are the foreign or local commissioners, and I am sure that in spite of the amount and the difficulty of the work we do it to the best of our ability” Craig said to ‘lawyers on line’.

As to the question of how the members of the Commission of inquiry thought they might get to the truth, Craig told us that he is aware of the records compiled by organizations defending human rights in Honduras, the declarations of the OAS (Organisation of American States), the IACHR (Inter-American Commission of Human Rights), and the UN. “There is unfortunately, too much material. Now that we have official status it is up to us to do a lot of hard work.”

“In regard to new cases of human rights violations that are still ongoing today, we have to be on the alert to protect the integrity of the victims, given that in any country in the world in the same situation as Honduras it will be very difficult to give ultimate protection to the witnesses and the living victims” Professor Scott continued.

We asked Professor Scott if he wasn’t concerned for his own safety, given that during the time participants in the True Commission were staying in the Hotel Maya in Tegucigalpa, they were under surveillance by suspicious individuals, as evidenced on a video recording by the security staff of the same hotel.

“I’m not planning to take a lot of risks. My concern is for Hondurans, living in Honduras. I am extremely concerned about the safety of two Honduran members of the True Commission: Helen Humaña and Father Fausto Milla. I am also hoping that international pressures might protect those working with us … maybe I’m too optimistic”, said Craig, smiling.

“In fact, I have noticed subtle threats directed against us, the foreign members of the True Commission, while we were in the hotel, but none of that will stop us.” We, from (lawyers on the line) thanked the professor for that decision.

It is our opinion, as defenders of human rights, that at this particular point of time we are fighting a real war against the freedoms of the citizens of Honduras. How does it feel to be in the middle of this conflict?

Professor Scott stated that rather than a war he would define this as a struggle in which he is decisively aligned with the defence of human rights. The neutrality of the True Commission will be a guarantee to ensure true justice. He hopes that the results of the work of the True Commission will bring about not just cosmetic changes at the State level. He believes that it would not be enough to attempt to change the way people think, rather that there will be structural changes in Honduras, that ‘hopefully would be constitutional!’.

When asked if they would take into account those victims who had to go into exile because of the ongoing threats, Craig says that it is his dream that the final finding of the True Commission might make a big difference to the condition of the country, to the extent that those in exile would be allowed to live peacefully in the country of their birth.

In conclusion Craig presents a message to the victims and all the Honduran people, asserting that it will the duty of himself and the True Commission to ensure that the world comes to know in detail what is happening in Honduras after the coup, all the terrible human rights violations, “because we can’t allow a return to the terrible years of the 1980s, when Plan Condor killed and kidnapped hundreds and thousands of people with impunity.”

I believe it is important to regard the struggle of the Hondurans as an example to the world, and especially to Latin America.”

*Journalist of ‘’

** True Comission is the spanish translation of "Comisión de Verdad" opposite to the regime's Truth Comission "Comisión de la Verdad"

Translated by Fry Warwick

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Stop the violence: Demand the closure of the Marlin Mine

Take action here.

Canadian Labour Congress on Passage of Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement

The Canadian Labour Congress is dismayed that despite widespread opposition from trade unions, faith groups and development non-governmental agencies, legislation to implement the Canada-Colombia Free Trade Agreement received royal assent on June 30, 2010. Read more...

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Curse of Coal

Power plants in Canada – including NB Power’s Belledune plant – and elsewhere get coal for their power plants from one Colombian mine, the Cerrejón mine. This video report shows how coal consumption is contributing to negative consequences for the people living in the area.

The Danish NGO – DanWatch – has put pressure on their power plant to investigate and respond.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

COFADE denounces the illegal detention of 9 minors signalled as participants in the Honduran resistance movement

The Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) denounces the illegal overnight detention by police of nine minors associated with the resistance movement

Nine males between the ages of 12 and 17 were detained yesterday afternoon and held in jail overnight in a facility unsuitable for minors, without the notification of their parents/guardians or the Honduran Institute for Children and Families (INHFA). They were not charged with any criminal offense and were released at approximately 12:00 noon today after a visit by a COFADEH lawyer who petitioned for their release for several hours. These youth are reported to have participated in at least one march of the resistance movement, as part of a group of young people organizing educational activities encouraging reflection upon the political and social realities currently being experienced in Honduras.

COFADEH is manifesting grave concern to the national and international human rights community in the face of the continued criminalization and repression of young people and members of the Resistance in Honduras by state forces, such as the police, since the coup d’etat on June 28, 2009, repression which has continued in a targeted, violent manner under the government of President Porfirio Lobo in 2010. Their testimony is below.


We, the undersigned [names are committed to protect the victims’ identities as minors], who are minors, Honduran, and residents of the Sanai neighborhood of Comayagüela, freely and of our own volition appear before the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared in Honduras (COFADEH) and offer the following testimony.

FIRST: Yesterday the 1st of July between 3:30 and 4:00 PM we were in the Sinaí neighborhood in the house of our friend Jankel Alejandro, where we were having a meeting and celebration related to our school, where various Preventative Police officers arrived in patrol vehicles marked No. 103 and 109 and forced the lock of the house and entered without presenting any kind of warrant. They proceeded to search us even though we weren’t carrying anything illegal, they handcuffed our wrists with our shoelaces and loaded us onto their patrol trucks, taking us in the direction of the 5th precinct which is located in the Granja neighborhood.

SECOND: When we arrived at the above mentioned precinct they ordered us to get down from the trucks, as they watched us get down they proceeded to hit us one by one. We were in that precinct for about 10 minutes then they moved us to the 4th precinct which is in the Belén neighborhood, they took us to the jail cell there where we were detained for approximately eight hours.

THIRD: We hereby authorize COFADEH to carry out any follow-up actions that they consider to be necessary.

For the record, we sign this testimony in the city of Tegucigalpa, Municipality of the Central District, on the 2nd day of July, 2010. [Signatures on the original document]


Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras

Friday, July 2, 2010

Honduras Delegation Update July 1st 2010

This update and others are also at and

Witnessing Resistance in Honduras
Quixote Centre Honduras Delegation update July 1st, 2010
Caitlin Power Hancey, Atlantic Regional Solidarity Network (ARSN)
(photos by delegation member Tom Martinez

The Honduran resistance movement is real—it is also strong, diverse, and decidedly non-violent.

This is the last day of our international accompaniment and observation delegation to Honduras. For the past week our delegation has been busy accompanying a range of events leading up to the anniversary of the coup on June 28th, or “the anniversary active of popular resistance in Honduras.” We also continued meetings with representatives from various sectors active in the resistance movement—including women’s rights organizations, LGBTI coalitions, youth groups, academics, teacher’s unions, and peace-building organizations.

Over the weekend, we accompanied members of the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) as they collected signatures—actually “sovereign declarations”—calling for a National Constituent Assembly in the Tegucigalpa neighbourhood of La Esperanza. Nationally over 800,000 signatures have been collected, and the Front expects to have 1.2 million by September 15th, which is Independence Day in Central America. These signatures will give them the moral authority and political sway, as a coalition of social movements, to convoke the National Assembly and begin the process of creating a constitution representative of the diversity of peoples, regions, sectors and experiences that make up Honduras. The current constitution, for example, does not recognize the existence of any indigenous peoples in Honduras, while it is generally considered that there are nine indigenous groups within its borders. The largest groups are the Lenca in the west and Garífuna along the northern coast.

Members of the National Front for Popular Resistence (FNRP) collect sovereign declarations asking for a National Constituent Assembly

Sunday, on the eve of the anniversary, we accompanied a peaceful candlelight march that began at Francisco Morazán Pedagogical University. It was intended to go north on Miraflores Boulevard, veer right and stop at the presidential palace, then make its way west to the Congress in the centre of the city, where there was a vigil for all of the individuals who have lost their lives to state violence since the coup. When the crowd reached the first road leading to the palace, it was barricaded with cement blocks and chain-link fencing and guarded by soldiers in riot gear with machine guns. By the time the crowd reached Suyapa Boulevard, they had passed another route blocked by military in riot gear (who’s shields read “POLICE,” in English), and the east side of the main intersection was blocked as well. The marchers stayed at the intersection for about 20 minutes, chanting at the soldiers, some marchers asking them what they were afraid of. After the crowd faced the soldiers and sang the national anthem, someone with a megaphone asked for a show of hands to determine where to go next. It was getting late, but most of the group continued on to the Congress. Before moving on, organizers sent pick-up trucks out to the edges of the crowd to try to ensure that those who weren’t continuing with the main crowd had a safe way home and that no one would be travelling alone.

Last Sunday night's candlelight march

About 11:15 that night in our guesthouse, I received a text message from a former colleague in Honduras that Berta Caceres, the leader of the Coordination of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras (COPINH) had been detained by the police in the department of La Esperanza and the charges were not being made clear. Within a half-hour I received another message that she was released. I was told the next morning that the police department had received at least a dozen calls from human rights activists in Honduras and the United States and responded to the pressure. This was the night before the anniversary of the coup, when marches were being planned all over the country.

No major incidents were reported to us on Monday, the day of the anniversary. Though the marches in Tegucigalpa and other major centres were not accounted for in mainstream Honduran media, most alternative sources estimate a minimum of 10,000 participants at the Tegucigalpa march. Most people we talked with presumed that the state was aware of the international eyes on Honduras during the anniversary and wouldn’t take overtly repressive action. They believed the violations would continue in a strategic, targeted, and “silent” way, which has been the pattern observed since the Lobo government took power at the end of January. In a country with an average of 15 violent deaths a day, it’s not considered difficult for those who want to pass off political violence—including assassinations—as common delinquency, or to smear the victim by insinuating involvement in criminal activity.

The audience at the inauguration of the True Commission (a people's alternative to the state-sponsored Truth and Reconciliation Commission) sing the Honduran national anthem.

Our group temporarily left the anniversary march to observe the inauguration of the True Commission (Comisión de Verdad)--the alternative to the government-sponsored Truth and Reconciliation Commission), and others from the march soon joined. The energy was high in the auditorium, which was full, and international support from across the Americas was present. That afternoon and evening there was a concert on the grounds of the Pedagogical University showcasing Honduran musicians and original resistance music written since the coup.

After the anniversary our delegation had meetings with organizations representing the two groups hardest hit by political assassinations following the coup—the LGBTI community, who have lost 27, and teachers, who have lost 21. When our delegation members asked why each of those groups were so heavily targeted, representatives from ARCOIRIS, an organization that works with lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans and intersex people, said its in large part because they are considered by those responsible to be some of the most dispensable and disreputable members of the population, and therefore of the resistance. In our meeting with the presidents of five different teachers unions we were told simply that to repress teachers is to repress the next generation of resisters—and the strategy was clear.

Feminists in Resistance (in the purple t-shirts) at Monday's anniversary March

We also met with representatives from Feminists in Resistance, a collective of individuals and women’s organizations that formed after the coup, who outlined the particular, gendered ways that women have been targeted in the resistance—from rape and sexualized beatings perpetrated by soldiers and police during demonstrations and curfews, to references in the mainstream media to “loose” and “irresponsible” women who take to the streets instead of taking care of their families. They also expressed clear determination to regain the ground they lost after the coup in terms of women’s rights, and sincere hope that with the increased organization and rejuvenation of their movement they would get even further. According to these representatives, since Lobo has taken power, the morning-after pill—and any education or advertising referencing it—has been made illegal. A new, inclusive sexual education guide that they had approved under the Zelaya government has been gutted, and the hard-won Institute for Women is being shut down and reportedly replaced with an “Institute for the Family.”

This morning, a couple of hours before delegation members were scheduled to leave for the airport and return home, we received a call that a highly-visible member of the resistance, whose partner was killed as a result of tear gas poisoning during a demonstration last year, had been arrested for an alleged traffic violation. He was reportedly badly burned by pepper spray from the police officers, had been tasered, and also couldn’t open one eye. Some delegates went to the local police station with staff from the Committee of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADE) to inquire about his welfare and ask if they could see him on their way to the airport. Shortly afterwards, we found out that a warrant was now out for the arrest of another outspoken member of the resistance because two years ago workers had cut down trees on her rural property, allegedly violating environmental laws.

A member of the resistance is who has been pepper sprayed and tasered is released from police custody following a visit from the director of COFADEH

On this Canada Day there is no shortage of recent events that encourage me to reflect on our country’s role internationally in support of violent, repressive regimes—such as backing the post-coup regime in Honduras, continuing support for Israel’s war on Gaza and the Palestinian people, and the recent signing of the bi-lateral free trade agreement with Colombia. And with the recent detentions, violence, and violations of civil liberties during the G20 meetings in Toronto, we’ve got several more reasons to doubt our current government’s respect for human rights at home, including the right to dissent.

I want to reiterate that the resistance movement is large, vibrant, multi-faceted, and decidedly present in Honduras. We do not hear about it via mainstream in North America, if we hear about the situation in Honduras at all, and major media in Honduras clearly misrepresents and undermines its existence. All representatives we met with insisted that as international delegates we must counteract the lies and omissions and let people in our countries know that their movement is real. In our meeting with him yesterday, Dr. Juan Almendares Bonilla, the Executive Director of the Centre for the Prevention and Treatment of Torture Victims and their Families (CPTRT) and an eminent human rights defender in Honduras, reminded us that international solidarity between peoples—despite the national boundaries and governments that divide us—is the most important and essential power we have, and we need to exercise it, mutually.

For more information about this delegation and additional updates or media releases:
The Quixote Centre:
Common Frontiers Canada:

For more information about the recent situation in Honduras and Canada’s role:
Honduras: Democracy Denied
A Report From the CCIC’s Americas Policy Group With Recommendations To The Government Of Canada