Monday, April 4, 2011

Honduras: the Human Rights Emergency Continues

Below is a summary of the human rights violations that took place on Wednesday, March 30th across Honduras during the day-long national civic strike. The reported violations include illegal detentions, beatings and excessive use of force (including tear gas) by military and police, attempted kidnapping of an employee of the Commission of Truth (Comisión de Verdad), a violent eviction of a community that had been established for seven years, and one death due to live ammunition fired by state forces.

COFADEH is asking international solidarity groups to call for an end to the disproportionate violence, repression and criminalization campaigns that the militarized forces have launched against the civilian population. Please see the Friendship Office's Urgent Action from March 31st for further information.


The Committee of the Families of the Disappeared Detainees in Honduras

Honduras: the Human Rights Emergency Continues

Before the brief pause today, Thursday, March 31, and apparent stability due to discussions between the National Congress and the leadership of the Federation of Teachers’ Organizations of Honduras (FOMH), the citizenry suffered its worst period of human rights violations; a state of emergency that, without a doubt, implicates the police and army of the defacto regime that rules this country.

The events which occurred in a systematic manner for the past three weeks, with the direct participation of the administrative apparatus of the State and its instruments of violence----the National Police and the Army----have brought again some minor international attention to Honduras.

The attention of the world community to the crisis generated by the coup and coup ideology is still insufficient, but it is key to brewing institutional solutions that create the minimal social and political consensus required to transform the country.

For this reason, the Honduran Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared (COFADEH) urgently requests that solidarity groups and intergovernmental political forums publicly communicate political positions calling for an end to the disproportionate violence and repression that the militarized forces have launched against the civilian population – discontented, demanding, and in resistance -- since the coup d’etat of June 2009.

In different geographic regions of Honduras the protests of the general population, in solidarity with the teachers’ resistance defending free public education, were repressed by excessive force that does not meet the requirements of the United Nations for the use of non-lethal weapons.

The National Civic Strike called by the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) has left a tragic balance:


In San Pedro Sula, capital of the province of Cortes, the daughter of an ex-congresswoman from the Democratic Unification Party (UD), Silvia Ayala, was wounded during the violent eviction of students from the University Center of the Valley of Sula Campus of the National Autonomous University of Honduras, where dozens of students and professors were also detained.

A young student, Josue Rodriguez (20), was hit on the side of his head by his right ear by a metal tear gas canister fired by the policy into the interior of the university facility.

The installations of the regional University Center were surrounded by lines of police and soldiers impeding the exit of students and professors while they were being attacked by tear gas bombs fired directly at their bodies. Fainting and vomiting were caused by the inhalation of the gases.

In the municipalities of Santa Cruz de Yojoa, Potrerillos, La Lima and Choloma, in the province of Cortes, there were 43 people detained for participating in the Civic Strike; they were not freed from the police station until yesterday, Wednesday, during the night; in some cases they had marks from the beatings they received and gave testimony of insults and discriminatory remarks made to them.

At the highway turn-off to La Flores, Santa Cruz, in Cortes, (Police) Commissioner Rubi, nephew of the current Attorney General, unleashed a violent repression against the protest and ordered the detention of 17 people who were transferred to the First Police Station of San Pedro Sula. Among the detained were: Lidia Arita, Nedi Santos Castillo, Antonio Maradiaga and Glenda Cabrera. There were 6 people wounded by bullets, including Daisy Sabillon and Manuel Miranda, who were taken by private transport to the Mario Catarino Rivas Hospital in San Pedro Sula.

In addition, the riot police punctured the tires of more than 30 vehicles using their firearms and knives, then chased the owners with tear gas and gunfire while they sought refuge in the forested area of the locale.

In Potrerillo, a town in the province of Cortes, in the area of the Colonia El Triunfo 5 people were detained: with head wounds (Alejandro Duarte Garcia), blows to the legs (Luciano Barrera Monroy) and lesions on the thighs (Haydee Marquez del Cid; Junior Mejia Murillo and Gloria Marina Perdomo Rodriguez).

Lawyers Evaristo Euceda and Iris Bude, who were carrying out human rights defense work in the police station of Villanueva were verbally and physically assaulted by the police sub-inspector of the locale.

In the community of Tacamiche, a peasant settlement that belongs to the municipality of La Lima, Cortes, the repressive forces entered the settlement to fire toxic gases into the interiors of homes as revenge for the protest blockading the highway to the town of San Manuel and Villaneva, Cortes. The director of the community school, Professor Esmeralda Flores along with teachers, Favricio Sevilla and Pedro Valladares, were taken to the First Police Station of San Pedro Sula.


During the Civic Strike called for Wednesday, March 30 by the National Front of Popular Resistance (FNRP) one man died in the community of Planes, municipality of Tocoa, in the north of the country, as a consequence of the forced dispersal of protesters by the Police and military who used live ammunition against the populace. The man was a security guard for a poultry distribution business.

In the same town, located near the conflictive zone of the delta of the Aguan River – a scene of frequent disputes over land tenancy – 11 people were wounded by bullets; the wounded allegedly included peasants, educators and police.

Among those wounded by the gunfire were: Waldina Díaz, a teacher from Trujillo; Neptalí Esquivel, of the Nueva San Esteban peasant cooperative; Mauro Rosales of the Unified Campesino Movement of Aguan (MUCA); David Corea, television cameraman in Olanchito; Juan Antonio Vásquez, president of the Bolero peasant cooperative ; Paulino Chávez Rosales and Franklin Hernández of the 4 de marzo peasant cooperative; Víctor Euceda of the 4 de febrero peasant cooperative; Daniel Pérez of the 4 de diciembre peasant cooperative; professors Elías Erazo Hernández and Eduardo Rivera, of the community of Los Leones, in the municipality of Trujillo.

The detention of eight people, transferred to the Police Station in Saba, was also reported.

In the Central Region

In Tegucigalpa, capital city of Honduras, the National Autonomous University of Honduras was again the target of the combined forces of the police and army with hundreds of tear gas bombs launched into the interior of the campus from where students reacted by throwing rocks.

In the military incursión into a peripheral sector of the University there were 6 youth detained, accused of ilicit protest; they are Maynor Lizandro Aguilar (18), Marlon Alexander Rosales Rico (22), Douglas Manuel Flores (18); in addition, Oneyri Oneill Moreno Mejía of the Rainbow Collective (Colectivo Arco Iris), Marlon Nahúm Estrada, a taxi dispatcher at the university; Josué Sevilla and Elwin Meza were beaten with night sticks. All of the detained were freed during the afternoon.

Near the neighborhood of Las Brisas in South Tegucigalpa, three people were taken off a bus and taken to the Police Station of the neighborhood of La Granja, among them were two minors, Emerson Stevez Flores (15), Victor Geovanny Flores (14) and also Wilfredo Flores Aguilar (33), they were freed three hours alter their detention.

Before midday, six heavily armed men dressed in civilian clothes and carrying handcuffs tried to kidnap a young man, Eddy Guifarro, an employee of the Commission of Truth (Comisión de Verdad) when the taxi in which he was traveling stopped apparently due to traffic in the San Jose de la Vega neighborhood. The individuals surrounded the taxi, beating him on his body and head with their weapons, but Eddy was able to escape by running around the vehicles that were crowded around; the individuals followed him and fired 6 times, without giving any thought to the risk of wounding the people in the area. Guifarro suffered a ruptured ear drum and head wounds from the incident.

In the offices of the College of Professors of Middle Education (COPEMH), police intelligence agents attempted to plant evidence against the teachers’ organization resulting in the “discovery” and report to the Ministry of the Attorney General that a box of molotov cocktails was found in the public trash close to the center. The general coordinator of COFADEH classified the action as fabrication of evidence in an attempt to strip the organization of its legal status

In the Municipality of Ajuterique, in the province of Comayagua, 500 families that had taken possession of an area of land seven years ago, naming their community Colonia 25 de October, were violently evicted by elements of the police and army, who were accompanied by a judge. Their houses were destroyed, as well as the community school and the church. Five people were detained, Betuel Guillen (19), Edwin Guillen (18), Pedro Joel Hernández, Selvin Javier Centeno y Osmán Gómez (19).

In the South of the country

In Nacaome, capital of the department of Valle, the police and army also launched a cruel repression firing tear gas into the interior of homes in which there were children who were severely affected. A 2-month-old baby, Cristopher de Jesús Bonilla García, was taken to a medical facility with symptoms of asphyxiation after evading the police who were impeding the parents from getting help, firing tear gas directly at their bodies. The father, a 17 years old young man, had to jump over a wall and give mouth to mouth resuscitation to the inert baby and then place him in the arms of his grandmother, who by motorcycle was able to take him to a doctor who helped him.

In the repression, two minors, Mario de Jesús Sauceda (19) y José Raúl Mendoza Posadas (17) were also pursued and detained, the latter had been sent to to buy groceries by his mother. Human rights defender, Andres Abelino Ortiz Ortega (74) was also detained for several minutes.

In the community of La Flor, municipality of Amapala in the department of Valle, police agents travelling by boat arrived at the community to intimidate the residents, demanding that they tell them if they were a part of the Resistance protest during the Civic Strike.

These are reports of events of a single day, nonetheless, the tendency is that as the protests continue the pattern of aggression against the people and their human rights will continue being the same for those accused of “sedition and illicit demonstrations”.

The preceding days have been characterized by escalating institutional violence, leading to the logical deduction that the coming days will bring, in addition to the combined forces of the police and army, armed civilian infiltrators employed to provoke the demonstrators into confrontations ending in massacres.

It is urgent that the world now turns its eyes again towards Honduras; tomorrow may be too late.

For the deeds and the perpetrators, neither forget nor forgive.


March 31, 2011

Original posting, including COFADEH's message in Spanish