Thursday, June 16, 2011

Urgent Action From COFADEH

The Committee of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH) and the Velásquez Rodríguez family speak out to the national and international community to denounce the actions of the Public Ministry related to investigations initiated in the case of the violent death of teacher Ilse Ivania Velásquez Rodríguez on March 18, 2011.

As you will remember, on March 18, 2011, Ilse Ivania Velásquez Rodríguez, together with her children and son-in-law, also a teacher, participated in the teachers protest held in front of the INPREMA[1] headquarters, Boulevard Centroamérica in Tegucigalpa. Teachers were peacefully protesting peacefully the institutional crisis in Honduras which has impacted the teaching sector. Suddenly, repressive forces began launching dozens of tear gas bombs from different angles, creating a state of confusion. The quantity of smoke generated and the concentration of gas impeded visibility, provoked asphyxiation and confusion among the people and blocked the forced evacuation. The Velásquez family ran in different directions. Ilse was hit in the head by a tear gas bomb. The impact of the bomb knocked her to the ground, falling face down onto the pavement of the Boulevard Francia. While lying unconscious on the pavement, her body was subsequently hit by a vehicle[2].

We know that the Public Ministry’s Special Prosecutor for Human Rights has begun a process of closing the case of the teacher, Ilse Ivania Velásquez Rodríguez, arguing that she died due to a traffic accident. According to the Forensic Medical Report, dated May 2, 2011, the impact from the car to her hip made her fall to the ground. The impact of the fall would be the cause of death. This version is contradicted by testimonies of people present at the protest and demonstrates the lack of thorough forensic analysis.

The Special Prosecutor for Human Rights of the Public Ministry has not investigated the use of force on the part of state agents on that day. According to witnesses, newspaper reports and videos, the protest which was totally peaceful – with protestors raising their arms in the sign of peace – was heavily repressed by the police and military. Indiscriminate and disproportionate force was used against protestors exercising their legitimate right to assemble peacefully which is clearly guaranteed under the law and international human rights treaties to which Honduras is a signatory

Because a person was killed under circumstances in which state agents are implicated, the Public Ministry has the obligation to thoroughly investigate the events described and begin a judicial process to determine those responsible according to the law.

On April 7, 2011, COFADEH and the Velásquez Rodríguez family presented a complaint to the Public Ministry against Porfirio Lobo Sosa, who exercises the Executive power, Oscar Arturo Álvarez Guerrero Security Minister and Marlon Pascua, Secretary of Defense. Despite the complaint, the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights has not only failed to initiate an impartial and exhaustive investigative process but intends to close the case, resulting in impunity in this case, denying the family of the victim the right to truth and to justice.

COFADEH and the Velásquez Rodríguez family request the national and international community to demand that the State of Honduras conduct an exhaustive investigation into the circumstances that caused the death of teacher Ilse Velásquez Rodríguez. We request that the actions of state agents be investigated in the context of protests during the month of March 2011; in other words, the abuse of authority and indiscriminate and disproportionate use of force on the part of the Honduran police and military. Those responsible should be punished according to the law and the State of Honduras must guarantee the right of the people of Honduras to peaceful assembly as recognized by Honduran and international law.

Please make calls to the following authorities:

Jorge Alberto Rivera Avilés
Presidente de la Corte Suprema de Justicia
Tel (504) 2269-3000 2269-3069

Luis Alberto Rubí
Fiscal General de la República.
Fax (504) 2221-5667
Tel (504) 2221-5670 2221-3099

Send copies to:

Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH)
Barrio La Plazuela, Avenida Cervantes, Casa No. 1301
Apartado Postal 1243
Tegucigalpa, HONDURAS
Fax:+504 2220 5280 (solicite: "tono de fax")

If you speak Spanish there are numbers to call and you can send a note to the COFADEH email to let them know that you called. If you do not speak Spanish you can write in English to the email addresses of the government officials listed and send a copy to COFADEH.

Please also send copies to Honduran diplomatic representatives accredited in your countries.

Instituto Nacional de Previsión del Magisterio.
Denuncia presentada al MP el 07 de abril de 2011.
Artículo 78 y 79 de la Constitución de la República; Artículo 20 de la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos; Artículo 21 del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos; Artículo 15 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos; Artículo 21 de la Declaración Americana de los Derechos y Deberes del Hombre.

[1] Instituto Nacional de Previsión del Magisterio.
[2] Denuncia presentada al MP el 07 de abril de 2011.
[3] Artículo 78 y 79 de la Constitución de la República; Artículo 20 de la Declaración Universal de Derechos Humanos; Artículo 21 del Pacto Internacional de Derechos Civiles y Políticos; Artículo 15 de la Convención Americana sobre Derechos Humanos; Artículo 21 de la Declaración Americana de los Derechos y Deberes del Hombre.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

U.S. Congress To Hear From Roberto Micheletti, Under False Premises

Originally posted by Rights Action June 10, 2011

The U.S. House Committee on Foreign Affairs is to hear from the “Honorable Roberto Micheletti Baín (Invited)”, who is, they say, the “Former President of Honduras”.
Micheletti was a key leader of the June 2009 military coup in Honduras, and was a ‘de facto’ leader of the military-backed regime that carried out widespread repression against the Honduran people.
It is false to say Micheletti is a “Former President” of Honduras. The so-called swearing in process by the pro-coup Honduran Congress, one day after the illegal military coup, was based on a forged resignation letter of President Zelaya.
The ‘dishonorable’ Micheletti should be tried in court in Honduras for his role in the coup, not received by the House Committee on Foreign Affairs as “former President” of Honduras.

WASHINGTON, D.C. 20515-0128
Connie Mack (R-FL), Chairman
June 7, 2011
You are respectfully requested to attend an OPEN hearing of the Committee on Foreign Affairs, Subcommittee on the Western Hemisphere, to be held in Room 2172 of the Rayburn House Office Building (and available live, via the WEBCAST link on the Committee website at
DATE: Tuesday, June 14, 2011
TIME: 3:00 p.m.
SUBJECT: Holding Honduras Hostage: Revoked Visas and U.S. Policy
The Honorable [sic] Roberto Micheletti Baín (Invited), Former President [sic] of Honduras
Mrs. Sandra Martínez de Midence, President, Central Bank of Honduras
Mr. Leonardo Villeda Bermudez, Former Executive Secretary, National Convergence Forum (FONAC)

*NOTE: Further witnesses may be added.
By Direction of the Chairman
The Committee on Foreign Affairs seeks to make its facilities accessible to persons with disabilities. If you are in need of special accommodations, please call 202/225-5021 at least four business days in advance of the event, whenever practicable. Questions with regard to special accommodations in general (including availability of Committee materials in alternative formats and assistive listening devices) may be directed to the Committee.

Write to your own Member of Congress, and other government officials, demanding that Micheletti – a dishonorable military coup plotter and leader – NOT be invited to speak at this hearing.

Here is the list of Committee members, which may be helpful to people calling or writing:

Call the Capitol Switchboard – (202) 224-3121 to speak with these key congressional offices

House of Representatives Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs

Howard Berman, California, 28th District

Eliot Engle, Bronx, NY, 17th District

Albio Sires, New Jersey, 13th District

Eni Faleomavaega, American Samoa

Donald Payne, New Jersey, 10th District

Iliana Ros-Lehtenan, Florida,

Connie Mack, Florida, 14th District

Michael McCaul, Texas, 10th District

Christopher Smith, New Jersey, 4th District

Dan Burton, Indiana, 5th District

Elton Gallegly, California, 24th district

Ron Paul, Texas, 14th District

Jeff Fortenberry, Nebraska, 1st District

Gus Bilirakis, Florida, 9th District

Senate Subcommittee on Western Hemisphere Affairs

Richard Lugar - Indiana

John Kerry - Massachusettes

Bob Menendez – New Jersey

Barbara Boxer - California

Jim Webb – Virginia

Jeanne Shaheen, New Hampshire

Tom Udall, New Mexico

Marco Rubio – Florida

Mike Lee – Utah

Jim DeMint – South Carlina

Johnny Isakson – Georgia

John Barrasso – Wyoming

Monday, June 6, 2011

Brutal repression continues in Honduras

Bloody Sunday in Aguán

Versión original en español

José Recinos Aguilar, Joel Santamaría y Genaro Cuesta, all members of the San Esteban peasant cooperative were murdered [on Sunday, June 5th] while driving a Nissan vehicle a few meters from the settlement. There are still no details of how the attack occurred, according to a statement by FIAN-Honduras.

The report said the military, police, and security guards were guarding the place where the corpses lay preventing their fellow peasants from reaching them. The bodies will be transferred to La Ceiba for autopsies, according to reports by the district attorney’s office in Trujillo.

Almost simultaneously, peasants who had occupied San Isidro farm were evicted by Miguel Facussé’s security guards. They then entered the premises of the National Agrarian Institute (INA) in Sinaloa, in what is known as “golden house”, and opened fire on farmers who had taken refuge there since last winter. Peasant Doris Pérez Vásquez was hit in the abdomen and seriously injured, and had to be rushed to a hospital in the city of La Ceiba.

All those interviewed by FIAN Honduras about the violence in the Lower Aguán region agree that the repression has never been this bad, suffered presently by those who make up peasant organizations standing up for their rights. No one trusts the authorities and all are afraid for their lives.

Peasants are disappointed by the failure of the agreement between the Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán (MUCA) and the regime, and the oversight of promises made to the Authentic Peasant Reclamation Movement of Aguán (MARCA) and the Peasant Movement of Aguán (MCA) by the INA. The reasons for the agrarian conflict have been the same since April 13th, 2010, with the situation worsening now that there are more deaths, injuries and victims of other violations.

The feeling among peasants is that of total defenselessness. FIAN Honduras has reiterated that until the agrarian dispute is settled, violence will continue in the region and that the police, often along with the army, only serve to scare people and obtain preliminary information on the violence without making public their investigation results as required.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Hondurans mobilize in San Salvador to denounce the reincorporation of Honduras into the Organization of American States


Versión original en español

We the members of popular and indigenous organizations of Honduras, mobilizing in San Salvador, historic si

te where the remains of General Francisco Morazán rest, supported by the solidarity of the Salvadoran people and other peoples of the world, on the occasion of the meeting of the Organization of American States for its Ordinary General Assembly manifest:

1. When the OAS revoked the suspension of the Honduran state and readmitted it to the body it ended up legalizing coup d'etats and contributing to the same people remaining in impunity, not just in Honduras but in all the countries of the Americas.

2. The arbitrary decision of the Organization of American States - backed by Washington - to recognize a regime that rose from elections not recognized by the international community which were carried out under intense militarization and repression and in which the majority of the Honduran population did not participate, contradicts its own Charter. Additionally it undermines the declaration of Human Rights since they pretend not to know that the regime that continues the coup d'etat in Honduras systematically and ser

iously violates human rights and is made up of the junta of high-ranking commanders who executed the coup d'etat of June 29th, 2009, examples of which include General Romeo Vásquez Velásquez, minister of [Honduran national telecommunications company] HONDUTEL, General Venancio Cervantes Director of the Migration Department, in addition to other politicians like Vilma Morales, Arturo Corrales, Carlos López Contreras and the General Prosecutor of the Republic Luis Alberto Rubí. We could also include magistrates of the Supreme Court of Justice and congressmen amongst the oligarchy's military coup plotters, who continue enjoying impunity.

3. The OAS mocks the Honduran people and the people of the world by recognizing the regime that continues the coup d'etat, given that they aren't ignorant that Roberto Micheletti enjoys a lavish retirement, security guards paid by the Honduran state and an illegal amnesty that has prevented justice for crimes that have been committed against the Hondurans struggling for democracy's return.

4. The OAS should know that it is an accomplice to more than 200 killings, many of which were against the LGBTI community, to the kidnappings that have led to the disappearance of peasants like Olbin Gallegos and Secundino Gómez, to the tortures suffered by men and women who marched in the enormous national mobilizations of the people in Resistance, to the closing of media, ruthless violence to which the youth are subjected, to the long curfews and states of emergency that the Honduran people have suffered. The OAS makes itself an accomplice to the climate of complete impunity being lived through in Honduras which is responsible for the fact that since January of this year there have been more than 115 women killed by acts of femicide.

5. The OAS becomes responsible for the regime that continues the coup d'etat's criminalization of the social organizations that struggle in defense of the water, mining, the forest, and all of the goods of mother earth, opening them up to repression at shameful events like "Honduras is open for business" where the regime's police showed off by violently attacking activists and TV cameramen.

6. The OAS makes clear that it is a useless instrument for the interests of the people and it is useful for the empire of death and greed that imposes coup d'etats and then legalizes them afterwards. It shows us that they are two-faced and that they never intended to revert the coup d'etat and actually favored the coup-makers.

7. We hold the OAS and all the states that have supported the recognition of the coup d'etat in Honduras reponsible for the repression, the impunity, the complete defenselessness and the crimes that don't let up in our country.

8. As social movements we salute the consistent decision of the republic of Ecuador to not support the Honduran return [to the OAS] with which it shows moral force, dignity and a truly democratic orientation.

9. We thank the peoples of the world and we call

on them to deepen the solidarity with the Honduran people that today continue living under a coup d'etat with the difference that now it has been legalized.

Under no historical circumstance do the people renounce the memory of the struggles and the injustices. We reject reconciliation that is based on the practice of forgetting and only favors impunity. We reject the reconciliation that backs up the hypocritical discourse of a democracy that does not exist in Honduras. We raise our fervent condemnation against the OAS for its reincorporation of the regime and for this attempt to humiliate the dignity of the daughters and sons of Lempira and Morazán.

From San Salvador, June 4th, 2011

Civil Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras COPINH

Together We Will Win Association of Aguán

Peasant Movement of Aguán MCA

Unified Peasant Movement of Aguán MUCA

Popular Morazanist Youth JPM

Autonomous Insurrection Collective

Association of Residents of the Peninsula of Zacate Grande

*In this moment more organizations from Honduras are joining, including as of tomorrow the Departmental Resistance Fronts from Ocotopeque, Copán, Lempira and other organizations of the Resistance.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Various Commentaries on the Return of Zelaya; Continued Pressure to Address Human Rights Violation

original article from Los Necios:

JESSE FREESTON, TRNN: On Saturday, Manuel Zelaya, Honduras's last elected president, will return to his country to live for the first time since his overthrow by the military 23 months ago. His return is the result of an agreement sponsored by the presidents of Venezuela and Colombia and agreed to by Zelaya and Honduras's post-coup regime leader, Pepe Lobo. People have braved relentless rain arriving around the country to welcome back the popular president, who was overthrown on the day he was to poll the Honduran people on whether or not they wanted to rewrite the country's constitution through a participatory assembly representing all sectors of society. It would replace the current constitution, which was written under a US-backed military dictatorship in the early '80s. Saturday will be a day of celebration.

But many who opposed the coup are urging outsiders not to confuse the return of Zelaya and other political exiles with the return of democracy. Up to today, Hondurans opposed to the coup have witnessed constant oppression and violence from the regime that took power that day. As Zelaya returns to Honduras, he will find the military still mobilized throughout the country, 11 of the country's most critical journalists assassinated, hate killings against gays, lesbians, bi, and transsexual people skyrocketing, the country's Garifuna people fighting to defend their land from expanding tourism projects. He will find an almost civil war-like atmosphere in the Aguan valley, where death squads have assassinated almost 40 members of the region's organized farmers, farmers who want to plant basic grains to eat, pitted in a land conflict against a handful of wealthy plantation owners who produce palm oil for snack foods and biofuels. Junior Orlando Gomez is a member of the organization MARCA, which is currently occupying land in the area.

JUNIOR ORLANDO GOMEZ, SMALL FARMER OCCUPYING LAND (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): On Saturday, we were repressed on the land we're standing on now by members of the army, the police, and hitmen hired by the plantation owners Rene Morales Carazo, Reynaldo Canales, and Miguel Facusse. During the attack, our comrade Henry Roney Diaz was killed. He was 26. Died from a series of bullet wounds. Our need is great, and sometimes necessity can force you to risk your own life.

FREESTON: Zelaya will also return to find a teachers movement that recently suffered weeks of repression for opposing the stealing of their pensions, the suspension of 300 of their members for political activity, the proposed privatization of their education system, amongst other moves by the regime. Some of these teachers are now in front of the National Congress, and Saturday will mark their 22nd day on hunger strike. Teacher Yanina Parada helped organize the action.

YANINA PARADA, SUSPENDED TEACHER (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): The first day we set up here, at midnight, we were removed by the military and police. They dragged us out on our mattresses, other teachers carried out by two cops at a time. The women were verbally abused. We were told if we didn't leave immediately, we would be leaving pregnant.

FREESTON: Zelaya will also return to a leadership role within the National People's Resistance Front that has seen over 100 of its members assassinated since the coup, with more bodies showing up every week and little to no sign of criminal investigation. In the Cartagena Accord itself, the current Lobo regime even refuses to outright recognize the repression, pledging to cure the complaints of those who "believe" their rights have been violated following the coup. For distinguished human rights defender Bertha Oliva, cofounder of Honduras's Committee for the Families of the Disappeared, this wording should raise alarms.

BERTHA OLIVA, HONDURAN HUMAN RIGHTS DEFENDER (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): As long as they don't admit that they've committed crimes and that those crimes are called human rights violations, until they admit that, we will never see progress in this area, because they always try to justify their crimes, which run from hate crimes to political persecution. And I don't think we can forget the 100-plus political assassinations that have happened.

FREESTON: She also points out that mere hours after signing the agreement, the regime attacked a group of striking high school students in the capital.

OLIVA: The high school students were demanding that their suspended teachers be allowed to return to class. The police and army use live bullets to disperse the protest, along with tear gas.

FREESTON: The Cartagena Accord will likely see Honduras reinstated in the Organization of American States and thus gain access to the last of the international aid packages that were cut off after the coup. Only one country, Ecuador, has said that it will vote against Honduras's reinstatement until such time as those responsible for the coup are punished. It's unlikely that will happen in Honduras, given that all the judges that opposed the coup were summarily fired under the Lobo regime, including Judge Guillermo Lopez.

GUILLERMO LOPEZ (SUBTITLED TRANSL.): We were fired for criticizing the coup. We condemned it both as citizens and as judges. We found the breach of the Constitution to be unacceptable, which brought us political persecution and, eventually, our firing. Ecuador's position is very coherent: to oppose Honduras's return to the OAS until such time as human rights violations are investigated, and most importantly, until those responsible for the June 2009 coup are punished. In our country, the opposite has happened: they've been rewarded with important positions in the government.

FREESTON: Nobody has been punished for carrying out the coup d'etat, and the most visible leaders have been given high positions in the current regime. Military coup leader Romeo Vasquez Velasquez is now in charge of the state phone company, and political coup leader Roberto Micheletti was named a congressman for life. Despite all this bad news for Zelaya and the Resistance Front, Saturday will be a day of celebration for a movement that is becoming more and more organized by the day and for the first time in its two-year history will have its most recognizable member, Mel Zelaya, active and in the country. With that obstacle out of the way, the resistance can focus on its other major goal, the re-founding of the country through a constitutional assembly.


87 US Democratic Representatives in a letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton push for the US Government to end aid going to military bases and polices forces "until mechanisms are in place to ensure security forces are held accountable for abuses. See Honduras: Human Rights Blog for more on the human rights situation.

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