Thursday, December 7, 2017

Human Rights Organizations of Honduras "warn of the consolidation of a dictatorial regime that ignores the people’s will and imposes itself through force."

Mesa Nacional de Derechos Humanos
National Human Rights Coalition
Press Conference

Tegucigalpa, Honduras.
Saturday – December 3
Morning after first night of curfew – “La Noche Negra”

Opening: Lighting of Candles

We’re going to get started with this symbolic act. Today we turn on the light of our hearts. The fire which symbolizes hope in the midst of the darkness that envelops us. With this light we wish to illuminate the path of solidarity and respect for human rights in Honduras.

Thank you for being here with us. For being part of this struggle against the dictatorship that is being imposed in this country.

The Constitution of the Republic [states]:

Republic of Honduras, Title 1: State. Chapter one: Organization of the State. Article three: Nobody owes obedience to a usurped government or those who assume functions or public employment through the force of arms or using means or procedures that break what this Constitution and the laws establish. The acts edified by said authorities are null. The people has the right to recur to insurrection in defense of the Constitutional order.

And as fundamental right guaranteed in the Constitution of the Republic, we have Article 68 which “guarantees the liberties of association, meeting, as long as they are not against public order and good custom.”

Of the inviolability of the Constitution . Article 375. This constitution does not cease to apply or to be implemented by acts of force or when it was supposedly modified or ignored by any other medium or distinct procedure from that which it itself proposes. In these cases, all citizens, invested with authority or not, has the responsibility to collaborate in the maintenance or re-establishment of its effective application. Those responsible for the acts mentioned in the first part of the previous paragraph will be judged according to this Constitution and the laws and procedures therein. Likewise for the main functionaries of the government that subsequently organizes itself if they do not contribute to the immediate re-establishment of rule of the constitution and of the authorities constituted in accordance with it. The Congress can decree with the absolute majority vote of its members, the seizures of all or part of the goods of these same people and of those who have enriched themselves as a result of supplanting popular sovereignty or usurpation of public power to compensate the Republic of the prejudices that have been committed.

Thank you very much. Thanks for coming.

Press Conference

Honduras suffers serious setbacks to democracy,
Illegal declaration of state of siege enables public forces to violate human rights

Multiple human rights abuses and violations have been committed in Honduras in the context of the recent protests realized in 17 of the 18 states of the country. The “State of Siege” declared by the government is illegal, and becomes a means of repressing the political dissent, imposing an electoral fraud and instilling terror in the population in order to stop the protests.

Honduras is today living through serious democratic setbacks in violations of human rights due to the manipulation of electoral results on November 26th. The political crisis generated by the State, has unleashed a wave of protests nationall demanding respect for the popular will and ratifying the rejection of the imposition of the re-election of Mr. Juan Orland Hernández who is in violation of the Constitution of the Republic.

The excessive use of force has become State terrorism through the different repressive forces especially the Military Police for Public Order (PMOP), the Tigres Police, the army and the National Civil Police, against peaceful protests, resulting in the arbitrary detention of protesters and political opposition. We point to the existence of patterns of cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment. The Mesa Nacional de Derechos Humanos (National Human Rights Board) expresses its preoccupation for the assassination of two people and at least two dozen people wounded by bullets just in Tegucigalpa. The strategies employed by the authorities in response to the protests come at the expense of the rights and liberties of Hondurans.

The organizations that make up the National Human Rights Board, additionally document the attacks against journalists and media workers carried out by the security forces who seek to impede the coverage of the protests, the threats to close media, and the increasing climate of intimidation.

The human rights situation is increasingly more critical since the beginning of the protests, in which increasing levels of repression of the political opposition by the national security forces are observable alongside the stigmatization and persecution of people perceived as Government opponents.

Because of this, we insist that the Honduran authorities abstain from classifying the protesters and media workers as enemies and terrorists – words that do not help to lesson the context of violence and polarization and that, instead, further exacerbate it.

The information compiled by the Human Rights Board and other public information available indicate that the anti-riot tanks utilized by the Military Police for Public Order regularly launched hundreds of teargas bombs at the protests on November 30th and December 1st, including directly at the body of people, counter to all action protocols for the security forces. This situation has been aggravated by the decision of the Executive to usurp the powers of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal (TSE in Spanish), slowing the transmission of fraudulent results. Despire the partial information published by the TSE, President Juan Orlando Hernández declared himself President-elect immediately, at the same time as members of his party made calls for their followers to take to the streets and defend the results, still unknown, provoking violence with the opposition.

The Mesa Nacional de Derechos Humanos further reiterates that the candidacy of President JOH is illegal and unconstitutional, given that a suit filed by the former Nationalist President Rafaél Leonardo Callejas, only opened the possibility of speaking about re-election and not registering for it.

The highly questionable action of this Tribunal, despite the explicit prohibition of re-election, as a maximum guarantee of democratic principle, entering into full contradiction with the Constitution of the Republic.

WE express our most serious worry about the complicity of the Supeme Electoral Tribunal in not carrying out the exigencies that allow for a guarantee of maximal transparency in the process and we exhort it to carry out a public recount of the vote tallies.

We have received denunciations of infiltration to de-legitimize social protest, which has caused the looting of businesses in different parts of the country. We lament the omissions by the National Police regarding its responsibility to guarantee citizen security.

We demand that the Honduran state and in particular the forces of public security and defense to respect the right to peaceful protest, remembering the obligation to serve and protect the Honduran people.

We demand of the National Mechanism for the Protection of Journalists, Social Reporters, Human Rights Defenders and Operators of Justice to initiate an independent and effective investigation of the violation of human rights presumably committed by the security forces and of the abuses that have been attributed to the armed collectives or to violent protesters. This includes the guarantee that the investigations initiated by the Attorney General during the period proceed in a scrupulous and utterly impartial manner.

The Mesa Nacional de Derechos Humanos will continue to be vigilant and in communication with its member organizations and partners in Honduras for the necessary activities of denunciation.

We call on international cooperation, diplomatic missions, and friendly governments to be alert regarding violations of human rights and demand that the State of Honduras fulfill its duties under all pacts, treaties and international agreements. To the Honduran population we call for vigilance and denunciation of human rights violations in any part of the country.

In the midst of the continuing economic and social crisis of the country and the increase in political tensions, there is an elevated risk that the situation in Honduras will deteriorate even more, for which reason we declare ourselves to be on permanent alert and we announce that we will carry out the necessary international denunciations and will publish a broad report of these denunciations in the coming days.

TO the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nationals on Human Rights we make an urgent call for statements demanding that the State of Honduras respect and protect human rights in Honduras.

Finally we warn of the consolidation of a dictatorial regime that ignores the people’s will and imposes itself through force.

Partial Transcription of Press Conference Q+A

First Speaker

…that the decree would come out, be published, or disseminated through which constitutional rights are being restricted. We have expressed that the issuing of this decree was illegal and unconstitutional for various reasons. One of these reasons is that the government has invested many millions of lempiras (Honduran currency) in this country to guarantee security for its citizens.  This has not been the case during the protests. The state has the obligation to guarantee citizens ability to demonstrate without acts of violence occurring. The state has not guaranteed citizen’s security. Secondly, yesterday it was made clear that in this country there is an absence of representation in the executive branch. Mr. Ricardo Alvarez illegally assuming and usurping the functions of the presidency of the republic has committed a crime. We urge the Attorney General to initiate investigative due diligence and send to apprehend Mr. Ricardo Alvarez because he violated the constitution of our republic. He assumed the Presidency of the Republic without the president of the republic being outside the country. Mr. Ricardo Alvarez, violating article 245 of the Constitution of the Republic, assumed a presidential function that involved signing a decree of executive powers to restrict constitutional guarantees without having the authority to do so. We have two presidents in this moment, one Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández and another Mr. Ricardo Álvarez – which implies a kind of de facto presidency because he signed a decree to restrict constitutional guarantees in an illegal manner. Because of this, this restriction of constitutional guarantees is unconstitutional. On Monday we will present our respective resources before the Supreme Court of Justice and demanding that the National Congress publically control these abuses because it is the National Congress’ responsibility to control these decrees that restrict constitutional guarantees. We fight for Democracy and we make these demands of our Institutions — the institutions that are, in this moment, not permitting the Honduran state and society to move forward making a democratic state. That is why we are in this situation. Additionally, it is important to make known the fact that before the elections, during the elections, and after the elections we have been documenting all the acts of invasiveness, threats, and intimidation against laws that pertain to the freedom of the press. Especially, very recently, we have documented aggressions and threats of closures of media entities like UNE TV. We are calling on the authorities to cease these restrictions on journalists, media entities. Freedom of speech in a context of political crisis is one of the rights that should be the most protected, guaranteed, and we should fight for the upholding of this public right. Thank you. 

(passes the microphone)

(A woman calls on a journalist to ask a question)

Woman: Jorge Burgos of Criterio HN.


Good day. Social media has been inundated with videos of injured people, soldiers and police chasing people, firing upon them with live rounds. When will the Human Rights Organizations represented here deliver a report in order to inform the world of what is happening in Honduras and how Hondurans are suffering this crisis?

Woman in Black:

These organizations that are part of Mesa de Derechos Humanos are… (interrupted)

…individual human rights organizations that are part of the Mesa de Derechos Humanos are following the various acts of resistance that the people are enacting all over the country, and in addition to the continuous human rights violations. It is not an easy exercise, because, as you all know, these actions have multiplied, and generally all these actions are accompanied by repression, persecution, indiscriminate and invasive use of tear gas, illegal capture and detainment of people with the withholding of any information for their family members. Also populations that have not even been part of the public demonstrations but who were coincidentally in certain areas have been detained. This morning, precisely, it was said on Radio Progresso that more than 40 people were detained in the Core 7 (police station). There were interviews of family members, almost all women—wives, mothers—of those people who are detained. Information is not being given to family members. These people have been through torture, these mothers, these wives and there at Core 7 (police station) they are withholding information from them. Many of those detained are underage, even under sixteen years of age and thirteen years of age. We hope to have an initial report of these human rights violations within the week. That is not easy homework because not only are we documenting, but we are involved in many simultaneous actions, but we believe it is our duty as human rights organizations to document in the most accurate way and to deliver a report to the media and to other national and international human rights organizations, and demand sanctions against the Honduran state for these grave violations. So we hope to have, maybe, within one week to have a preliminary report.

(passes microphone to sitting man)

Wilfredo Méndez:

I want to confirm that, in effect, we have developed working groups to communicate fluidly with the international community, Jorge. We are clear: the international human rights community is fundamental to us and the diplomatic core. By way of luck and global solidarity, we have received many communications from Europe, the United States, throughout the Americas. From all these countries we have received messages of solidarity for Honduras, and additionally of protection for the defenders that are in the country. And we are in continuous, for example, right now, this very report is being transmitted to the international community… That is one of our points because we all know very well that on the level of diplomacy this government is launching out to the world a diplomatic offensive against human rights composed of lies.
(passes microphone)

Journalist identifies herself as Adrian:

(inaudible)…How do you think this situation can be resolved? In your opinion, what are the causes of all this crisis? How is democracy involved in all of this?

(passes microphone to woman in blue)

Woman in Blue:

We believe that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal has in its hands the ability to resolve this problem, but of course, it is readily apparent, right, that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal is in the hands of the current…of Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández because the demands have all been laid out on the table: the revision of more than 5000 ballots, not the thousand or so that…not the thousand that the Supreme Electoral Tribunal has said, but many others; the revision of the system, of the hard drive, all of which the Supreme Electoral Tribunal has refused. But it is in the hands of the current government, the government of Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández who wants to stay, definitely. His intention, definitely, is to repress the populace and not resolve the problem. That is apparent because he’s decreed and suspended constitutionally guaranteed rights and that signals to the international community that here there is no desire to resolve this problematic. They don’t want dialogue, they don’t want anything.

(passes microphone back to first speaker)

First Speaker:

The state of democracy is reduced and hinges on this situation. There is an illegal candidacy that the constitution of the republic does not permit. There is no will, no respect for this popular will on the part of officials, and we have at this very moment a candidate for the presidency that is generating this crisis, Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández. Here, those responsible for this situation of democracy in crisis are the three magistrates of the Supreme Electoral Tribunal, the president of the republic Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández, the head of the armed forces of the republic, the head of the national police because they are the people generating repression, the Minister of Security who has been highly questioned regarding acts of drug trafficking, the armed forces with a military police force that has been highly questionable since they appeared in 2013. So the democratic situation here is a structural issue in the country. We will not recover Democracy the day that they declare the results, this democratic situation is structural. So we Hondurans have the opportunity, in this moment, to set out for ourselves the country that we want, the society that we want. This situation is no longer just up to Mr. Nasralla to negotiate because the will of the people is not negotiable. We are the Hondurans of this country who have to lift our voice and say what country we want in this moment. Since the coup d’état, we have lived 8 years during which the political crisis—economic, social, and cultural rights— and the dispossession of communities of life and natural resources has become accentuated. So in this structural situation, democracy will not be restored in this moment by way of the vote.

So Hondurans should continue to lift our voices to set out for ourselves, definitively, the country that we want as Hondurans, which is not a country in which one person can concentrate power and dedicate themselves to dispossessing Hondurans of life.

(passes the microphone)

Wilfredo Méndez:

I want to add an element. We heard this morning that the Tribunal has said that the recount will be done with or without the opposition’s presence. What we have expressed in other moments is that here there is an ongoing process of validating an electoral fraud from the point at which the Electoral Tribunal suspended information, or that the system suspended, to place results in favor of the president of the republic. The Electoral Tribunal has brought upon itself a problem on the order of Dante, and now, independently of the result it can provide, it’s image is even worse than before, and I didn’t even know it could get worse. But in this sense, what we want to draw attention to is that all of the machinery necessary to impose a fraudulent candidate is present. And for all that the opposition candidacy may participate in a recount process—that they’re facing some difficulties in getting and for which they’ve requested a special investigation—we just have to remember how starting Tuesday the electoral process, the computing process, has been manipulated to favor the candidate of the dictatorship. Therefore, we face a vital issue that can only be stopped by citizens wielding their political rights in the form of protest and the international community’s refusal to  recognize a government that imposes itself through fraud.

(passes microphone)

Woman in Black:

Adding a little to what my compatriots have already laid out, I want to say that to speak of democracy in this country is to speak of a chimera. The excipient democracy we had in 2009 finished dissolving with that coup d’état that was not reverted and that marked the ascendant position and the consolidation of control for economic groups over common goods, territories, laws, and institutional norms, bodies, and processes in general – institutional norms, bodies, and processes that is indeed solid and strong when it comes to guaranteeing the interests of those same economic and political groups.

Additionally, what was established yesterday, which we’ve denounced, the curfew, signifies a restriction on the exercise of defending human rights for defenders like us who are here now, and the hundreds and thousands of defenders that are throughout the country doing this important work. Also, the Honduran state supposedly has a law…not supposedly…but has a law that guarantees the right to defend human rights and [the state] is violating it and impeding our exercising of defending human rights. If they encounter us in this work…for example, at night there have been—in that very dark first night, last night and this morning, such a painful morning—so they will also jail us and imprison us and this violates that which the Honduran state has disseminated so much, for example in the Examen Periódico Universal where they celebrated the grand achievement that was accomplished in the approval of this law and in the recognition of the work defenders of human rights do. The Honduran state has at all times violated our exercise and right to defend human rights.

(passes microphone)

Standing woman:

And in the same condition: journalists and social commentators. Andres Molina.

Andres Molina (journalist):

I wanted to ask the leaders of the MESA: the Military Police for Public Order existed throughout 2009, and at that point it was still possible to have dialogue with some, some members of the police and police chiefs. At this moment, there are reports of repression with live rounds in various parts of the capital city, in El Pedregal, El Carrizal…well in multiple parts of the city…there was repression in San Pedro Sula of all places with live rounds, in the north, in La Ceiba, El Progreso, all over the country. How do they valorize this because I’m asking myself, well back in 2009 during the time of the coup, people were able to dialogue with the chief of police, now though people who are protesting are engaged with shooting.


Who will…

Woman in Black:


Carlos del Cid del Observatorio Ecuménico.

(Passes microphone)

Del Cid:

Very well, with respect to the question from our compatriot. Yesterday we made ourselves present to accompany the torch march which convened at five in the evening in the Colonia Kennedy. To our surprise we found two squads of approximately two hundred soldiers, TIGRES (Tropa de Inteligencia y Grupos de Respuesta Especial Seguridad – heavily militarized special forces police) police, military police, already in the area impeding the citizenries ability to express themselves through the torch march. When we approached the official, Salazar, to ask why they were impeding us, he said they had superior orders. The surprise was that immediately, while I was talking to him, a motorized patrol fired live rounds at a youngster who was yelling slogans. When we approached the official and demanded to know why they were firing live rounds at youngsters who were not doing anything more than being present at a march that they wanted to carry out, he said It isn’t my responsibility, those motorized police aren’t in my squad. I went to the other official and again Those people aren’t my responsibility. When I told them that that violated the use of force protocol for the police, he told me Do whatever you want to do about it. So, we are facing police and soldiers who were already emboldened because they knew about the law—the decree—that would be made public before it was made public. Now that it has been made public, with all certainty, we will have soldiers and police that will do what they did last night: fire upon youngsters, fire upon citizens who participate in any act of peaceful protest. We will have, based on what I saw and how those two officials treated me, many dead. We already have many detained, we already have many injured, there are, maybe, four dead throughout the country, and others that we don’t even know what condition they’re in. Today, I’m coming from la posta de Belén (la Unidad Metropolitana de Prevención 2 in Comayagüela) where there were six detained youngters…I went to claim them with first and last names, and they gave me the run around about whether they had them there, about some procedure they were going through, that they would deliver them today, but after 24 hours they still haven’t delivered them to us. And we have to go from station to station without knowing in what condition these youngsters are in, and without knowing what destiny awaits many of the ones who are captured at night. And at the discretion and whim of the official or the police who apprehend them, they might suffer torture, humiliation, and even death.

(passes microphone)


Sandra Maribel Sanchez of Radio Progreso.


I would like some of your comments about what Article 187 of the constitution of the republic mandates. That in addition to saying that it is the president who must issue the decree of suspension of guarantees, as has already been mentioned by the lawyer Tabora, it also says that by that same decree the National Congress must be convened so that within a period of 30 days they full familiarize themselves with this decree, they rectify it, modify it, or reject it. In the decree that was published yesterday in El Diario la Gaceta (Diario Oficial la Gaceta de la Republica de Honduras – state-run periodical) but that we know was actually made public several days ago, there is no mention of this article, therefore there is a breach of what the constitution of the republic mandates.


Wilfredo Méndez of ciprodeh (Centro de Investigación y Promoción de los Derechos Humanos)

(passes microphone)

Wilfredo Méndez:

Well, before answering I would like to mention that we have among us Dr. Juan Almendares Bonilla a man who is an emblem of Human Rights, so that the press knows he’s here with us. If he can get closer…if not, doctor perhaps afterwards the press can get your authoritative take on the moral and ethical dimension at play in our nation.

Actually, that article of the constitution, Sandra, is something that needs to be modified in the future, because how can it be possible to be told that they have up to 30 days when the timespan of the decree is ten days. What we are facing is a complete and absolute irregularity, in which no constitutional precepts are established or respected, rather it is solely used as an instrument of repression. Nor is there any guarantee that the Congress of the Republic will even meet, or restore rights and protections. So therefore, we are, as we’ve claimed among the international community, a situation of defenselessness. That is why we’ve said as human rights organizations, why we have not called, at any time, for people to not protest. We have said that they are well within their rights to protest—in their civil rights, and in their political rights.


Any new questions? If there aren’t any more…Your name please and press affiliation.

(passes the microphone)

Fernando Silva:

Fernando Silva, Contra Corriente. What are the mechanism available to the populace before all this climate of limited human rights, what are the mechanisms available to them after six o’clock to be able to be present, to have protection so that their rights aren’t violated?


Dr. Juan Almendares del CPTRT (Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de las Víctimas de la Tortura y sus Familiares)

Dr. Juan Almendares:

It’s a very important question, but we must remember that curfew is a state of exception, meaning a death penalty, which is to say that this electoral coup wants to return with the death penalty. That is in the first place. In second place a mechanism that the populace has is unity, solidarity, strength, but I would also like to say something here that I feel is very important. There are international observers here, and one of them is the OAS (Organization of American States) and another is the policy of the United States. We are a nation militarily occupied by the United States, so we have to say to the international community that the Honduran people are fighting with an extraordinary strength and that is moral strength. But we also have to…I would say that the call of our people should be to international solidarity networks, including the North American populace, because here we have valuable people from the United States that accompany us in these moments, that are in solidarity with the Honduran people. But I want to say something very important. In terms of coups in this country, coups began in 2009. There have been coups in the courts, coups all over the place—the most difficult of which is the moral coup. Something very important that I should say is that this is a project to Hondurize Latin America. Honduras is the primary experiment, and the militarization here is so terrible that it consumes a great part of the national budget and takes priority over health, education, which is to say that the United States is significantly responsible above all else in its interventionist military policy with regard to this country. For that reason I condemn United States policy, not the North American populace.

(Passes the microphone)

Moderator: Are there any last questions? If not we…Your name, please.


José Alexander Tuscano.


And what is your press affiliation?


Personal. Personal journalist. Not independent, personal. I just wanted to take advantage of the fact that the press is here, and in view of what has been expressed by Dr. Almendares Bonilla, before the militarization of the Honduran people. The people who are protesting are defenseless. It is only their voice that is heard. Take advantage of this media so that the people who are on the streets define strategies to not risk their lives, define the strategy of this struggle. You mentioned the constitution of the republic, the constitution of the republic in Honduras, in this moment does not exist. The only valid article is article number three which calls for a popular insurrection from the Honduran people where all other rights are violated. My message is clear: to the people who are on the streets, take advantage of this media to define strategies to not risk your lives before live rounds from soldiers and from the security apparatus of this state that, again, goes against the Honduran people. Get organized, protect life, but not to let your guard down in the struggle to restore the constitution.
Moderator: Okay, with this we will give way to…One more? Let’s see, if you please raise your hand.


As a psychologist and also in the era of communication and democratization through cell phones. I want to say, how can we from within build awareness in the soldiers and the police because I’ve talked to them, and they are aware that they are from the people…


Thank you everyone for your participation, you can approach the different organizations regarding your questions, and we will give way to independent interviews. One last thing from Donny Reyes from Arcoíris (LGBTI organization).


It is important to mention that Honduras has spoken, this populace has said that it is tired. No more violations, no more harm than what they’ve already done. The Honduran community living abroad, in the United States, in Spain, and throughout Europe has come out to the streets to denounce the atrocities that are being committed here.

Please, we believe it is important that the voices, as Dr. Almendares said, that our voice continue to be heard. It is important that we be the means of communication, the voice that doesn’t extinguish this candle, and that you all, we all,  become the voice of this nation. Thank you very much.


Very good, let’s finish with a minute of silence with our candles lit. We conclude this press conference with a minute of silence. Someone please help me with the time. José Luis. For all the deaths that have occurred on this black day.

Press conference Q&A Translation: José Orduña

Press conference opening translation: Matt Ginsberg-Jaeckle

1 comment:


Are You In Need Of A Private Or Business Loans At 2% Rate For Various
Purposes? If Yes; Contact us:

Post a Comment

Related Posts with Thumbnails