Wednesday, October 20, 2010

International Youth Day Vigil & Protest in Tegucigalpa/ Protesta y Vigilia Para El Dia Internacional de los Juveniles

Report from the
Honduras Accompaniment Project:

Here are English and Spanish versions of a press release by the
Plataforma de Acción en Pro de los Derechos Juveniles de Honduras
released yesterday. A coalition of youth groups marched silently from
the National Theatre to Central Park in Tegucigalpa, where they held a
vigil to remember and demand action with respect to the alarming rate of
violence against young people in Honduras, especially in the wake of the
coup d'état last year and under subsequent political regimes.

There were at least a couple of hundred young people there, from middle
school to high-school aged. Some were bussed in from the Amareteca
Valley and other colonias outside the city centre, others came on their
own, and there was representation various schools and communities,
including significant presence from LGBTI youth groups, who have
suffered particularly in the increased rates of violence since the coup.
There were a handful of adult support-people present, some from
youth-focused organizations and others who were family members, but most
walked to the side or behind the group, accompanying the young people in
their vigil. Organizers ensured participants all had a safe way home.

Some young street performers on stilts and performing fire tricks helped
lead the vigil quietly towards the park. Banners read "Together for a
Youth free from violence in 2011," "No more deaths in impunity," "Those
who don't punish the evil deeds are the same ones who order them," "No
More Violence," and "LGBT Youth: Present in the struggle for our rights
and non-violence."

There was no media present, though organizers told me they had called
all major papers and stations. The FNRP radio program on Radio Globo
from 8-9 PM announced the event while it was still in progress,
commending the youth and reading a part of their media release.



October 15, 2010, Tegucigalpa, M.D.C.


The Platform for Action for Youth Rights in Honduras is a space for
youth participation with clear ideological principles; among them the
struggle for youth rights in Honduras. On this occasion of International
Youth Day it is clear to us that this day, beyond a celebration, is an
opportunity to denounce and declare ourselves against the constant human
rights violations that young people are subject to.

For these reasons, today, Friday October the 15th, 2010, we are carrying
out an activity called TOGETHER FOR A YOUTH FREE FROM VIOLENCE IN 2011.

We declare ourselves with respect to the following:

We denounce the constant human rights violations that we are subject to
daily as youth and we are making an urgent call to the appropriate
authorities that they take action and stop being passive, because as
long as they stand with their arms crossed our youth are being further
victimized by the system.

We demand explanations for all extra-judicial murders and declare
ourselves against the sensationalist media of our country that every day
displays the deaths of young people as deaths within a violent
population, leaving the impression that youth are the most violent
people in our country.

We strongly condemn student repression, which many of our colleagues
from different schools across the country have been the victims of ,just
for exercising their right to free association and public protest; a
right which is ratified by the constitution of our republic.

We demand that the government respect the lives of young people or we
will doubt the possibilities for justice as well as the interest of our
government in the serious issues facing youth people and proceed to
appeal to international levels of jurisdiction.

We call upon all Honduran youth to refound our beloved Honduras and not
to forget that the direction of this country is in our hands, but we
must also continue firmly in the struggle and not give in, and make it
clear that YOUTH are not the problem; we are the SOLUTION.

Corruption plus lies is the same as politics.


Tegucigalpa M.D.C. 15 DE OCTUBRE DEL 2010


La Plataforma de Acción en Pro de los derechos juveniles de Honduras es
un espacio de participación juvenil la cual surgió con sus pilares
ideológicos claros; estando dentro de estos la lucha por los derechos de
los y las jóvenes de Honduras, en el marco de la conmemoración del día
Internacional de la Juventud, nos queda mas que claro que este día mas
que una celebración es una oportuna ocasión para denunciar y
pronunciarnos en contra de la constante violación de derechos de la que
somos objetos los y las jóvenes.

Es por esto y todo lo antes mencionado que este Día viernes 15 de
Octubre del año en curso, estamos realizando esta actividad denominada

Por lo siguiente nos pronunciamos en contra de los siguientes puntos:

Denunciamos la constante violación de derechos humanos de la que somos
objetos a diario los y las jóvenes y hacemos un llamado urgente a las
autoridades pertinentes a que se pronuncien y dejen su espacio de
pasividad, ya que mientras ellos cruzan los brazos nuestros jóvenes
están siendo cada vez mas víctimas de un sistema.

Exigimos Aclaración de cada una de las muertes extrajudiciales y en
contra de los medios de comunicación amarillistas de nuestro país que
cada día exhiben las muertes de los jóvenes como una población violenta
dejando el nombre la juventud como como la población mas violenta de
nuestro país.

Condenamos enérgicamente la Represión estudiantil de la que han sido
víctimas los y las compañeros de los diferentes institutos del país solo
por el simple hecho de ejercer su derecho de asociarse y manifestarse
libremente, como un derecho ratificado por la constitución de la república.

Demandamos del gobierno se respete la vida de los jóvenes o procederemos
a recurrir a las instancias internacionales, dejando entre dicho la
justicia y el poco interés gubernamental en la problemática juvenil.

Llamamos a todos y todas las jóvenes Hondureñ@s a refundar nuestra
querida Honduras y a no olvidar que en nuestras manos está el rumbo de
este país, pero también a seguir constantes en la lucha y a no claudicar
y dejamos claro que la JUVENTUD no somos el problema sino que la SOLUCIÓN.

Corrupción mas mentira es igual a política.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Violence Against Honduras Resistance Movement, Unionists Continue

Story by Kari Lydersen

The drum beat of violence and assassinations targeting union members and others in the National Resistance Front continues in Honduras, as human rights defender Berta Oliva described during a Chicago visit before receiving the Letelier-Moffitt Human Rights Award from the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) in Washington D.C. Wednesday on behalf of a coalition of Honduran human rights groups including her group, COFADEH. (The award is named for Chilean diplomat Orlando Letelier and IPS staffer Ronni Karpen Moffitt, murdered by agents of then-Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet in 1976.)

Just in the last month, numerous acts of violence and intimidation have occurred: a social security unionist and a member of the campesino group MUCA were killed; 22 university union employees were illegally ordered arrested; and an opposition journalist survived an attempted murder. Oliva noted that 83 members of the resistance movement have been murdered or disappeared since current president Pepe Lobo Sosa took office in January.

And on Sept. 17 – National Teachers Day – union secondary school teacher and prominent resistance activist Felix Murillo Lopez was killed in a hit and run many believe to be a murder. He was a member of the COPEMH union.

The organization Education International, of which COPEMH is an affiliate, describes the situation:

His worried family members had reported his disappearance to the police but, because his personal documents were missing, Murillo's body remained unidentified until 24 hours later when his brother visited the morgue. The police have launched an investigation upon suspicion that the crash may well have been intentional. COPEMH President Eulogio Chávez told the press that Murillo had received threats as a consequence of his involvement in protest actions since the military coup in August.

Indeed, Murillo was active in the Resistance and, as a member of the Committee for Security and Discipline, he often led demonstrations. Murillo was also a key witness to the murder of fellow teacher Roger Vallejo, who was shot in the head during violent repression by police forces in July. At the wake held to honour Vallejo's memory, teacher Martín Florencio Rivera was stabbed to death.

Also on September 17, the president of Section 2 of the Union of Workers of the Honduran Social Security Union was gunned down on the way home from a meeting at union headquarters. “They were in the midst of negotiations,” Oliva said of the social security unionist.

The blog Honduras Resiste, drawing on local reports, describes the assassination:

Juana Bustillo was driving a car with other union members in it after attending a meeting at the IHSS headquarters. Witnesses reported that a gunman walked up to the window of the vehicle and shot Ms. Bustillo and then got into a beige colored car and escaped the scene.

Juana Bustillo was 49 years old, she was a nurse in the IHSS hospital system for 20 years and a union activist for 11 years.

Union teachers and staff in primary and secondary schools and universities have been a mainstay of the resistance movement, and Oliva said in recent weeks the repression against teachers has been especially intense. “Things are very hard for teachers and it’s going to get worse,” she said. She added that divisions within the country’s various teachers unions also make the situation more dangerous.

In September, arrest orders were issued for 22 union employees of the National Autonomous University of Honduras (SITRAUNAH), and police occupied the campus for more than a week. Honduras Resiste described the situation:

At the head of the long list are the top leaders of the union organization, Rene Andino and Marco Antonio Moreno. The capture of the secretary of section number one of the union, Cristian Duron, who has immunity due to his union position, already occurred despite his legal guarantee (of immunity).

Violence against journalists also continues, as on Sept. 16 gunmen attempted to kill Radio Globo reporter Luis Galdámez Álvarez. Radio Globo, a mainstream radio station, was one of few that reported accurately on events unfolding during the coup. It was shut down for a month last fall and Radio Globo reporters have since been targets of harassment and violence.

The Committee to Protect Journalists reports:

Radio Globo has also been the target of serious attacks and multiple broadcasting disruptions. On September 28, 2009, during the interim government of Roberto Micheletti, the station was forced off the air after security forces raided their offices and confiscated equipment. It returned to the air on October 20.

The Washington-based Inter-American Commission of Human Rights ordered the Honduran government to provide Galdámez protection in July 2009 after repeated threats. Honduran authorities never enforced the order, the reporter said. "Those orders coming from Inter-American Commission don't mean anything in Honduras," he said.

Oliva said human rights leaders consider it crucial for people outside Honduras – elected officials and even regular citizens – to contact Honduran officials to voice their awareness of and opposition to the ongoing repression and violence. “This is a dictatorship of silence,” she said. “The government has convinced the international community that everything is in order. It’s a matter of language. Order does not mean normalcy.”

Oliva, head of the Honduran human rights group COFADEH, noted that the ongoing government- and United Nations-sponsored “truth commission” is an affront and in fact represents a danger to the large and diverse resistance movement, in that it legitimizes government actors who human rights leaders say are behind a concerted campaign of assassination and repression ongoing since the coup.

The resistance movement has launched its own truth commission, which is investigating ongoing attacks on union members and others; as opposed to the official commission’s mandate to investigate only events immediately surrounding the coup.

She said U.S. and international unions have expressed solidarity with their Honduran cohorts, and Hondurans hope such support will continue even as Honduras drops off the international radar screen and most people think things have returned to “normal.”

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