Monday, November 14, 2011

Declaration on the Founding of the Human Rights Observatory in Aguan

(Excerpts from the declaration of November 11, 2011)

We, members of the Honduran Social Movement, the Campesino Organizations of the Aguán, the National Front of Popular Resistance of the Department of Colón and international Human Rights organizations who attended the opening of this Observatory of Human Rights, before the National and International Community declare:

That protected by the fundamental charter of Human Rights adopted by the United Nations in international treaties that uphold the fundamental rights of peoples, especially indigenous populations under threat, in the introduction of the Constitution of the Republic and in the Articles 59, 60 and 61 which literally state: that the Constitution guarantees to Hondurans and foreigners residing in the country the right to the inviolability of life, personal security, liberty, equality before the law, and property; the Article 64 also states that the right to life is inviolable; the Article 66 which prohibits the death penalty, and all the other articles relating to claims, rights and individual rights protected by the principle of self-determination and the exercise of popular sovereignty, in the context of permanent violation of human rights of the people of the Department of Colón and the Atlantic Coast of Honduras, especially the climate of terror, murder, persecution of peasant groups in the region and the constant danger that face human rights defenders in front of Court officials, businesspeople and landowners such as Miguel Facussé, Reynaldo Canales and Rene Morales, who are using an army of security guards and murderers to do the work of hired killers.

These landowners, acting under the politic approval of the National Agrarian Institute headed by the Minister Cesar Ham, of the President of the Republic Porfirio Lobo Sosa and his Minister of Security and Defence, are organizing this third militarization of the Lower Aguán, called "Xatruch II ", using conventional war weapons on land as well as helicopters and aircraft armed with destructive weapons that are ready to be used.

In recent months, police, Honduran national army troops, security guards and hired assassins which usually cover their faces with ski masks, carried out drills of massive raids twice on the settlement of the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA), established with the approval of the State and the actual Government in the settlement of Los Marañones, and twice in the settlements of the MUCA of the right bank of the river Aguán, La Confianza, La Aurora and La Lempira; Colonel Espinal, who serves as Commander of Operation "Xatruch II" declared that all the settlements would be intervened to succeed general disarmament.

Against this background which places the human rights of the Aguán population and especially the rural population in a precarious and extremely risky situation, we have decided:

1. To defend the right to life as a fundamental right, to defend human rights of men, women and children living in constant harassment, repression and insecurity.

2. To be present during evictions, raids and military interventions within the framework of the defense of peoples' human rights and of the agrarian conflict.

3. To provide protection of populations and individuals facing threats, suffering persecution and who are permanently the targets of repression.

4. Accompaniment in legal advocacy, medical and legal proceedings related to land conflict.

5. To denounce nationally and internationally the violation of human rights in the region, creating forums and urgent response mechanisms.

6. To bring to trail before national and international legal bodies, those who violate human rights in this region of Honduras.

7. We call upon human rights organizations, the national social movements in Latin America and the world, leading personalities in the defense of human rights and in promoting peace through social and human development, to attend the international gathering of human rights defenders, an event that will take place in this region of Aguán from February 17th to 21st, 2012.

For the right to life, stop the killings of campesinos in Honduras and the Aguán!

Stop human rights violation in the Aguán!

Tocoa, Colón, 11/11/2011.



Thursday, November 3, 2011

Isis Murillo's Family Files Human Rights Case Against Micheletti

November 3, 2011, Houston, TX and New York, NY – Last night, in a human rights case against Honduran coup leader Roberto Micheletti Baín, attorneys from the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) filed papers emphasizing that the case is one of the few opportunities for accountability for the wave human rights abuses committed during and in the aftermath of the coup. Micheletti is the former head of the de facto government immediately following the June 28, 2009 military coup that led to systemic attacks on and extrajudicial killings of members of the opposition movement and journalists that continue today. The Center for Constitutional Rights filed the suit on behalf of David Murillo and Silvia Mencías, seeking justice for their son, 19-year-old Isis Obed Murillo, who was shot and killed by Honduran military forces during a peaceful demonstration against the coup.

In last night’s filing, CCR provided extensive documentation illustrating the culture of impunity in Honduras that blocks justice for the violations and that has permitted the attacks to continue under the current government of Porfirio Lobo. An expert report submitted by a Human Rights Watch researcher emphasized that no one has been held criminally liable for the scores of politically motivated killings and other human rights violations that took place under Micheletti and that little to no progress has been made in investigating the violence that has taken place under Lobo since he assumed the role of President in January 2010 after a post-coup election that was widely criticized as illegitimate.

In a statement included in Micheletti’s motion to dismiss the case, the office of the Prosecutor of Honduras asserts that Honduras does not hold Micheletti responsible for Murillo’s death, despite the lack of a full, credible investigation. Yet, even the Honduran Truth and Reconciliation Commission (CVR), the independence and impartiality of which has been questioned by experts and advocates, found that Micheletti bore responsibility for the killing of Isis Obed Murillo and others. In particular, the CVR found that Micheletti wielded command responsibility and implemented policies and practices that were the driving force behind the excessive use of force by the military and resulting human rights violations. Furthermore, CCR attorneys say the prosecutor’s statement strengthens the Murillo’s claims that the case must be tried in the U.S., because justice is not possible in Honduras given the absolute impunity there for the coup and post-coup abuses.

“Isis was the first victim in what became a systematic and widespread attack on dissent that continues today,” said Center for Constitutional Rights staff attorney Pamela Spees. “The Honduran government’s explicit refusal to hold Micheletti accountable for Murillo’s death – effectively clearing the coup leader’s name without any genuine investigation – highlights the importance of this lawsuit. It is one of very few avenues of accountability left.”

Subsequent to Isis’ killing, the plaintiff and his family were subjected to surveillance and harassment by police and other authorities. This harassment took place in the context of what lawyers describe as intense repression and political persecution that began under Michiletti’s regime that targeted the National Front of Popular Resistance, which formed in opposition to the coup, as well as journalists and other groups standing in opposition.

The filings also make public for the first time a September 11, 2009 U.S. Embassy letter included in an attachment to Micheletti’s motion to dismiss the case that states his visa was revoked due to “the continued resistance of the de facto government to accept the San Jose Agreement and the continuous failure to restore the democratic and constitutional government of Honduras.” Yet the U.S. has since successfully lobbied the Organization of American States to recognize the new government and is reportedly considering reinstating visas for Micheletti and other coup leaders despite any accountability for their illegal actions and the mass repression they presided over. The U.S. also provides funding to the Honduran military and police, who have been implicated in numerous grave human rights abuses, including assassinations, the burning down and bulldozing of nearly the entire town of Rigores, firing live ammunition and other brutal attacks on peaceful protests, and disappearances.

The case was brought under the Alien Tort Statute and is before the Houston Division of Southern District of Texas. To view the motions and for more information on the lawsuit, visit:

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