Escalating Violence, Repression of Democracy in Honduras


Escalating Violence, Repression of Democracy in Honduras

October 12, 2009

October 12, 2009

Abuses and restrictions of civil liberties have rapidly escalated in Honduras as the de facto coup government continues to repress the vigorous, peaceful pro-democracy movement that has emerged in response to the June 28 military coup. This movement, with the active participation of AJWS partners COPINH, OFRANEH, Red COMAL and Rights Action, has peacefully resisted the coup for over 100 days, pressing for a return to the constitutional order in the country.

The coup government has resorted to extreme tactics in its attempt to quell opposition, including cutting electricity in parts of the country's capital, closing borders and airports, forcing opposition media outlets off the air and Web and ordering violent attacks on peaceful protesters. Recently, the police attacked several thousand pro-democracy citizens who had been peacefully camped out in front of the Brazilian Embassy in support of the return of ousted Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya.

Although the exact number of casualties resulting from the military's abuses remains unknown, there are credible reports of at least 14 deaths. The security forces have also engaged in intimidation of social organizations. During the week of October 5, police broke into and searched a hospital supported by AJWS partner OFRANEH without a warrant, and 12 members of COPINH were forced to seek political asylum in Guatemala to escape persecution. These violations and countless others are infringing upon the freedoms and quality of life of the Honduran population.

As AJWS president Ruth Messinger noted in the Forward, "American Jewish World Service is particularly concerned about the impact the recent coup is having on civil society in Honduras. We partner closely with a number of grassroots organizations working to alleviate the profound poverty that exists in communities throughout the country. We are receiving reports of daily arrests and assaults as well as numerous reports of murder and torture of individuals who oppose Roberto Micheletti, the head of the de facto regime. Many of our colleagues in Honduras fear for their lives and the safety of their families, especially since Micheletti recently declared a 45-day suspension of constitutional guarantees and ordered a shutdown of major opposition media outlets."

AJWS and its partners are deeply committed to democracy, the full expression of which honors the inherent dignity of every person regardless of his or her political allegiance. We urge the Jewish community—and the global community—to stand alongside Honduran civil society in condemning the coup regime's abuses and in restoring democracy to Honduras as soon as possible.

Please visit the Latin American Working Group's website and tell the State Department to take strong and definitive steps toward a just and peaceful return to the constitutional order.