Letter Against the Human Rights Abuses in Post-Coup Honduras

January 12, 2010

We, the undersigned workers, artists, intellectuals, and human rights groups strongly condemn the widespread human rights atrocities against the Honduran people, beginning with the military coup on June 28th of 2009. Reports from human rights organizations emerge every day detailing state repression, from rape to assassination, of members of the non-violent resistance, whose aim is to restore constitutional order to their country and foster the creation of a more just society.



These abuses by the Honduran state violate nearly every article of the American Convention on Human Rights, to which Honduras is a signatory, beginning with the rupture of constitutional order and resulting in thousands of rights violations. As recognized by the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights, and documented extensively by COFADEH, Honduras’ leading human rights organization, the coup regime has demonstrated a premeditated pattern of violent tactics with which it aims to quell the resistance to the coup: 



• Mass detentions in subhuman prison facilities 

• The repression of assembly and mobility by means of excessive force

• The establishment of curfews and the suspension of constitutional guarantees 

• Rape and gang rape

• Targeted assassinations

• The censorship of media by means of threatening and killing journalists, employing blackouts, confiscating equipment, & the outright closure of anti-coup TV and Radio stations 

• Torture 

• Disappearance and kidnapping 

• Psychological warfare 

• Impunity for the perpetrators of these crimes 



Though these acts have been carried out by the police and the armed forces, there has been an alarming increase in the use of paramilitary personnel. The United Nations reported that some 40 ex-members of the United Self-Defense Forces of Colombia—Latin America’s largest paramilitary outfit, & terrorist organization as designated by the US State Department—had been employed by Honduran landowners. An increasing number of assassinations and abductions have been carried out by unidentified agents. 



This repression has particularly targeted marginalized communities, such as indigenous, campesino, & afro-Honduran groups. The LGBT community, for one, recently lost one of its young leaders, Walter Trochez, 27, gunned down by masked assailants on December 13th. Trochez’ murder is the sixteenth suffered by the LGBT community since the overthrow of Zelaya.



On December 11th, the body of Santos Corrales Garcia was found decapitated in a neighborhood outside of Tegucigalpa. Garcia was a local leader of the non-violent resistance, and had been detained six days earlier by heavily armed members of the National Criminal Investigation Division. Garcia’s body showed signs of torture, indicative of a low-intensity campaign to create collective fear, according to human rights advocate Andres Pavon.



Violence against women has also escalated greatly. The Christian Science Monitor reports: “As of August, women’s groups in Honduras have documented 249 cases of violations of women’s human rights, including 23 cases of beatings and sexual assault and seven gang rapes by police explicitly trying to “punish” women for their involvement in demonstrations. The number of femicides – the violent murder of women because they are women – has tripled since the coup, with 51 cases reported during the month of July alone.” 



In the face of all this, the regime held elections on November 29th, resulting in the “victory” of Pepe Lobo of the National Party. The sharp rise in brutality in the aftermath of the elections indicates that this may have been the worst thing for the human rights situation in Honduras, as powerful governments in the hemisphere—namely the United States, Canada, and Colombia—have used the elections as an opportunity to whitewash the coup. An ardent supporter of the overthrow of Zelaya, Lobo is already pursuing a general amnesty for its perpetrators.



For those governments that deal with Honduras, particularly the United States, this must be considered unacceptable and dealt with according to national and international law. The unwillingness to condemn the military regime for its thousands of human rights abuses demonstrates a capitulation to the coup, its repressive tactics, and its impact on Honduran democracy and civil society. To remain silent here is to condone the use of military repression against unarmed populations, and to encourage its use in future instances.



It is the moral imperative of the international community to demand the immediate end of the brutality in Honduras, and that the human rights of all citizens, particularly those involved in political activity, be respected without conditions.

Sincerely,

 

Doctors for Global Health
Noam Chomsky, Professor of Linguistics 
 

National Committee in Solidarity with the Honduran People 
 National Lawyers Guild 
 

School of the Americas Watch 
 

Aviva Chomsky, Professor of History 
 

Hondurans for Democracy 
 

Alliance for Global Justice 
 

Nicaragua Network 
 

Campaign for Labor Rights 
 

Venezuela Solidarity Campaign 
 

La Voz de los de Abajo 
 

Rights Action 
 

Boston May Day Coalition 
 

Proyecto Hondureño 
 

Mass Global Action 
 

Boston Liberation Health Group 

United for Justice with Peace, the Greater Boston coalition 
 Somerville/Medford United for Justice with Peace 
 

Greater Boston Stop the Wars Coalition