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Urgent Action: Free Edwin Espinal and All Political Prisoners


HONDURAS URGENT ACTION

Demand the immediate release of EDWIN ESPINAL, and of all political prisoners in Honduras 
 

Long-time Honduran activist Edwin Espinal has been jailed on charges related to protests against election fraud in Honduras. Due to his activism, he has been subject to State harassment, violence, and threats since the 2009 coup d’état. Immediate action is required to push for Edwin’s release and to ensure his safety.

 


Long-time Honduran activist Edwin Robelo Espinal was arrested by police on January 19, on the eve of a week-long nationwide strike. Edwin faces a laundry list of trumped up charges: arson; property damage; and use of homemade explosive material. Edwin is also under State investigation for terrorism and criminal association related to damages to the Marriott Hotel, a multi-billion dollar US chain, during a January 12 protest in Tegucigalpa.

Thousands of Hondurans from all walks of life attended the January 12 action to protest the election fraud that robbed Opposition Alliance presidential candidate Salvador Nasralla of his victory in the November 26, 2017 general elections; the killings of more than 30 anti-fraud protesters and bystanders by state security forces; and the arrests of dozens of political prisoners during the ongoing post-electoral crisis. Edwin’s arbitrary arrest occurred in the context of the election fraud endorsed by the US and Canada, and designed to keep current President Juan Orlando Hernandez in power

Edwin is currently in pretrial detention. At the end of his initial hearing inside military facilities on January 22, the judge ordered pre-trial detention and sent Edwin to La Tolva, a high-security, U.S.-style prison. The prison has extremely restricted visitor access, is run by a military Coronel, and prisoners are only allowed one-hour of sunlight every two weeks amongst other horrific conditions. Although the case has been appealed by local Honduran human rights organization COFADEH, Edwin could remain in detention for two or more years waiting trial.

Edwin Espinal has been a target of state harassment for years

Edwin is an easy-going, kind man who draws young people of all ages to him. Edwin fiercely believes in organizing, supporting all forms of resistance, and solidarity with Honduran social movements and groups. He has never lost hope for change in Honduras.

Edwin’s strong and relentless conviction is what the Honduran government fears. Because of this, since the US- and Canadian-backed military coup in 2009, Edwin has been a constant target of State repression and harassment.

In 2009, Edwin’s partner, Wendy Elizabeth Avila, was killed after excessive exposure to tear gas when State forces violently evicted thousands of protesters gathered at the Brazilian Embassy to welcome ousted President Manuel Zelaya back into the country.

In 2010, Edwin was abducted and tortured by Honduran police, who were later acquitted – in the corrupted legal system – on all charges for their abuses.

One month before the fraudulent, violent 2013 elections, Honduran Military Police and canine units brought in by the Public Prosecutor’s Office illegally raided Edwin’s family’s home, claiming that he possessed drugs, money, and weapons. At the time, Edwin was involved in a community movement to stop the privatization of public soccer fields in his neighborhood used by impoverished youth with limited recreational spaces and resources.

In 2015, Edwin’s mom died in the social security hospital as a result of the $350 million dollar looting of the Honduran Social Security Institute (IHSS) orchestrated by the National Party, in power since 2010.

Edwin has been detained more than a dozen times since 2009 and has been beaten by security forces. The most recent beating was in December 2017 when he participated in a protest against election fraud in Tegucigalpa.

As a result of this constant persecution, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR) granted Edwin protective measures in 2010. The measures were renewed in 2013, shortly after the illegal raid on his family’s home.

Edwin has been interviewed by Democracy Now!, Al Jazeera’s Fault Lines and in the documentary Resistencia: The Fight for the Aguan Valley. His story has also been featured in articles published by Truthout and POLITICO Magazine.

Edwin’s current detention on trumped up charges is one more example of systematic political persecution and targeting of anti-fraud protesters and political opponents of the government. The illegitimate and corrupt government of Juan Orlando Hernandez is targeting its own citizens – people like Edwin – while doing nothing to investigate the hundreds of killings and arbitrary arrests by State forces of social movement activists, protesters, journalists, lawyers, etc.

The legal proceedings against Edwin have completely violated Honduran law and due process. The case is being heard in “national jurisdiction” courts that, according to the charges against Edwin, have no jurisdiction over the case. The judge presiding over the case is the same judge that ordered the raid on Edwin’s house in 2013, which, according to Honduran law, is illegal. Edwin’s legal representatives were given one day (a Sunday) to prepare his defense and he was later sent to prison to await trial, which could take years.

Immediate action is needed for Edwin’s safety and release

We demand Edwin’s immediate release, as well as that of the more than 40 political prisoners throughout the country, and that all the trumped up charges be dropped.

To ensure Edwin’s immediate safety and access to justice, we demand that Honduran authorities immediately release Edwin. But in the meantime, we demand:

§  That Edwin be transferred to a detention center as determined by COFADEH (the Committee of Relatives of the Detained-Disappeared in Honduras), which has provided long-term legal and human rights support for him since 2009. Edwin is currently being held in a jail run by a military officer, and the facility has extremely restricted access for visits by family, friends, and human rights groups. These visits are crucial to help guarantee his safety and well-being while detained. To date, his family and his lawyers have not been able to visit him.

§  That Edwin’s case be transferred out of the “national jurisdiction” courts and into the regular court system.

Ongoing solidarity and action is also needed

§  We urge human rights delegations, journalists, and investigators to visit Edwin and other arbitrarily detained political prisoners experiencing repression in the context of the post-electoral crisis and the imposition of the Juan Orlando Hernandez regime.

§  Financial support for Edwin’s family is needed as they seek justice and work to ensure his safety and demand his release.

§  Contact the US, Canadian and Honduran representatives. See list below for contacts and demands.

For more information about Edwin’s case and the human rights situation in the country, CONTACT:

Website:  https://freeedwinespinallibertad.blogspot.com/

Facebook: Free EDWIN ESPINAL Libertad

Follow on Twitter: #FreeEdwinEspinal #LibertadEdwinEspinal

Email: freeedwinespinal@gmail.com

Karen Spring (English & Spanish)

Edwin Espinal’s long-time partner & the Honduras-based Coordinator for the Honduras Solidarity Network of North America (HSN)

spring.kj@gmail.com

(504) 9584-8572 

Bertha Oliva (Spanish Only)

General Coordinator, COFADEH

berthacofadeh@yahoo.com

 

PLEASE CONTACT THE FOLLOWING AUTHORITIES: (Please send freeedwinespinal@gmail.com a copy or report back of your communication)

Contact Information for Honduran Authorities:

 Oscar Fernando Chinchilla

Fiscal General (Attorney General)

Ministerio Publico

oscarfernando@protonmail.ch

 

Corte de Apelacion (Appeals Court)

Corte Suprema de Justicia (Honduran Supreme Court)

011-504-2275-5930 (can change last two numbers up until 37 so for example, 2275-5931, 2275-5932, etc)

comunicaciones@poderjudicial.gob.hn

 Demands:

§  Immediately drop the trumped up charges against Edwin and other political prisoners. Grant the appeal for Edwin’s case which would overturn the January 22 court decision which sent Edwin to prison to await trial.

§  Transfer Edwin to a detention center as determined by COFADEH.

§  Transfer Edwin’s case out of the “national jurisdiction” courts and into the regular court system.

 

Contact in United States

Your Senator and Congressional representative: https://www.house.gov/representatives/find-your-representative

Heide Fulton

US Charge d’Affairs (Acting Chief of Mission)

BronkeHM@state.gov.

 

Jason Smith

Human Rights and Labor Attache

SmithJA6@state.gov

 Demands:

§  To immediately address the issue of the political prisoners and pressure the Honduran authorities to drop all charges against Edwin and release all political prisoners immediately.

§  Insist to Honduran authorities that Edwin be transferred to a detention center as determined by COFADEH & that Edwin’s case be taken out of the “national jurisdiction” courts and heard by the regular Honduran court system.

§  Of US Congress members: to sign onto the Berta Caceres Act demanding suspension of US military aid to Honduras.

Contacts in Canada:

Your local Member of Parliament: https://www.ourcommons.ca/Parliamentarians/en/members

Ambassador James K. Hill

Embassy of Canada in Costa Rica, Honduras and Nicaragua

James.Hill@international.gc.ca

tglpa@international.gc.ca

 

Minister Chrystia Freeland

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Global Affairs Canada

chrystia.freeland@parl.gc.ca
House of Commons
Ottawa, Ontario
K1A 0A6
Telephone: 613-992-5234
Fax: 613-996-9607

Demands:

§  To immediately address the issue of the political prisoners and pressure the Honduran authorities to drop all charges against Edwin and release all political prisoners immediately

§  Insist to Honduran authorities that Edwin be transferred to a detention center as determined by COFADEH & that Edwin’s case be taken out of the “national jurisdiction” courts and heard by the regular Honduran court system

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Honduras In Crisis – The People Say JOH Must Go!

The Honduran people have declared a national civic strike, demanding that Juan Orlando Hernandez give up his fraudulent claim to have won the elections in November and to stop his inauguration on January 27.

More than 35 people have been killed by military and police since the November 26th election. Hundreds have been injured and hundreds arrested.

Go to our FaceBook Page for frequent updates on the situation and actions.
https://www.facebook.com/HondurasSolidarityNetwork/

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Our Response to US Support for Hernandez

On December 22, 2017 the US State Department congratulated Juan Orlando Hernandez on his electoral victory. This video in Spanish and English is our response. The written document in English is HERE.

Diciembre 22, 2017 el departamento del Estado Estados Unidos declaro su apoyo para Juan Orlando Hernandez. Este video (en ingles e español) es nuestra repuesta. El documento escrito en español esta AQUÍ

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New Letter from US Congress Members Reject Hernandez, Election Fraud and Violence

Twenty Eight members of the US Congress signed on to a letter initiated by Keith Ellison of Minnesota. The HSN worked to support this letter calls for suspension of all security  financing, notes the unconstitutionality of Hernandez’s run for re-election and condemns the blatant fraud and violence. The letter also calls on the US administration not to recognize Hernandez as he announces himself winner of the election and the members of Congress call for a new election. Here is the link to the official English.

https://ellison.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/letter-on-honduras-elections

The spanish translation follows:

Estimado Presidente Trump,

Honduras está en medio de una crisis electoral lo cual se ha convertido en una crisis política.  Los hondureños votaron el 26 de Noviembre, y el manejo de los materiales electorales por parte del gobierno desde ese entonces ha sido marcado por irregularidades y deficiencias severas y por denuncias generalizadas de fraude.  Estas inconsistencias han resultado en un llamado por parte del Secretario General de la Organización de Estados Americanos por nuevas elecciones, declarando que el proceso electoral falto integridad y que la única ruta para escuchar la voluntad del pueblo Hondureño es unas nuevas elecciones.  Estamos alarmados con reportes de la represión  de libertades básicas para los medios de comunicación e instamos que usted hace un llamado al gobierno de Honduras a cesar con el hostigamiento  de periodistas, medios de oposición y periodistas internacionales y garantizar y proteger la libertad de expresión en todas sus formas.

Instamos a su Administración a unirse con la Organización de Estados Americanos en su llamado a nuevas elecciones y respaldar el derecho del pueblo de Honduras a elecciones libres y justas de acuerdo con la ley de Honduras.  Creemos firmemente que observadores internacionales deben supervisar estas nuevas elecciones para asegurar la integridad del voto.

Adicionalmente, seguimos con preocupaciones sobre la candidatura de Juan Orlando Hernández porque la campaña del presidente actual para re-elección es una violación de la constitución de Honduras que explícitamente prohíbe la re-elección.   Esta flagrante violación de la ley hondureño sigue siendo un asunto de preocupación en adición a la falta de integridad de las elecciones.

Creemos que el pueblo de Honduras tiene el derecho de protestar pacíficamente y estamos alarmados con las acciones de las fuerzas de seguridad de Honduras.  Desde el 28 de Noviembre cuando el conteo de votos dio un giro dramático e improbable a favor del Presidente Hernández, las fuerzas de seguridad de Honduras han disparado munición viva en contra de manifestantes civiles protestando el fraude electoral.  Organizaciones hondureños de derechos humanos han documentado por lo menos 23 manifestantes y observadores ejecutados hasta la fecha por lo menos 12 asesinatos por manos de las fuerzas de seguridad estatales. Además, reportes indican que más de 1,500 personas han sido detenidas ilegalmente.  Reportes de golpizas, tortura y detenciones arbitrarias son generalizados.  Le instamos a dejar claro con el gobierno de Honduras que estos abusos tienen que cesar inmediatamente.  También hacemos un llamado a suspender todo asistencia para la policía y fuerzas armadas de Honduras mientras estos abusos por parte de las fuerzas de seguridad estatales de Honduras persisten y los responsables permanecen en la impunidad.

Anticipamos trabajar con usted para promover la paz y la democracia en Honduras.

Atentamente,

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HSN Declaration 12/8/2017: No Support for JOH’s Dictatorship!

 

 

Declaración: 8 de Diciembre/December 8, 2017 Declaration
English follows the Spanish.

¡No al apoyo a la dictadura! ¡Sí al apoyo de los hondureños!

Declaración de la Red de Solidaridad con Honduras sobre las Elecciones en Honduras 8 de diciembre de 2017

La Red de Solidaridad con Honduras (HSN por sus siglas en inglés) de Norteamérica condena de la manera más vigorosa posible la violencia y represión de los hondureños que están defiendiendo sus votos y

derechos humanos frente al fraude y la dictadura. Una delegación de observadores de derechos humanos, miembros de la Red de Solidaridad con Honduras (La Voz de los de Abajo Chicago, CODEPINK y Grupo de Trabajo sobre las Américas del Condado de Marin) acaban de regresar de Honduras, en donde estuvieron acompañado a los hondureños antes, durante y después de las elecciones del 26 de noviembre. El HSN entiende que la crisis electoral del 2017 es el resultado de la continuación del golpismo en Honduras desde el 2009, el cual fue apoyado por los gobiernos de E.U.A. y Canadá. En los 8 años y medio desde el golpe, el HSN se ha unido a organizaciones nacionales e internacionales para demandar un alto al financiamiento y capacitación en seguridad que ofrecen E.U.A. y Canadá al régimen, así como la asistencia de USAID. El HSN y nuestra delegación de derechos humanos han sido testigo de cómo estos años de apoyo al régimen han sido utilizados para reprimir y aterrorizar a los hondureños y al país para que acepten la elección fraudulenta. La certificación en Derechos Humanos que el Departamento del Interior de E.U.A. (U.S. State Department) le dio al régimen el 30 de noviembre es otro intento indignante de encubrir a un gobierno represivo en medio de una crisis política y de derechos humanos.

El HSN fue testigo de innumerables abusos de derechos humanos cometidos en un estado de impunidad. La organización hondureña de derechos humanos, el Comité de Familiares de Detenidos y Desaparecidos en Honduras (COFADEH), sacó a la luz un reporte el 6 de diciembre de 2017 que destaca los abusos cometidos por las fuerzas estatales de seguridad. COFADEH ha documentado 14 asesinatos (cometidos principalmente por la Policía Militar), 51 personas heridas (7 de gravedad) y 844 detenciones desde las elecciones del 26 de noviembre. Así como ocurrió con el golpe de 2009, estas violaciones masivas de derechos humanos no serán castigadas, mientras que nuestros gobiernos, como ha ocurrido hasta la fecha,

no dirán nada acerca de la violencia, la represión y los abusos cometidos bajo el gobierno de Juan Orlando Hernández (JOH) en contra de la población hondureña

El día de las elecciones, nuestra delegación fue testigo de la compra de votos y recibió, de parte de ciudadanos, reportes de fraude e intimidación. Uno de los equipos de la delegación fue sujeto a intimidación y amenazas de activistas pagados por el Partido Nacional (PN) en un centro electoral; y cuando un custodio electoral y un agente de policía intervinieron, también fueron amenazados por activistas del PN.

Reportamos esto para señalar la atmósfera represiva existente durante las elecciones, y por ende, la fuerza y valentía impresionantes manifestadas por las personas que desafiaron esta intimidación entonces y las de quienes siguen haciéndolo. El 28, 29 y 30 de noviembre, los miembros de la delegación fueron testigo y se vieron afectados por la represión masiva de la policía y el ejército en contra de las protestas no violentas afuera del lugar en donde se estaban contando los votos. Se disparó gas lacrimógeno indiscriminadamente y la policía y los militares golpearon violentamente a los protestantes, arrastrando a algunos de ellos adentro del lugar. Más aún, los agentes de policía reportaron haber recibido órdenes para abrir fuego con munición real en contra de los ciudadanos desarmados durante las movilizaciones masivas.

En base a los reportes de nuestra delegación, las organizaciones de derechos humanos y justicia social, y los medios independientes, así como los testimonios de las víctimas, añadimos nuestras voces al llamado vigoroso que demanda un alto a todo tipo de apoyo políticos y económico al régimen hondureño, un alto a la represión y el fraude continuos, y al no reconocimiento de cualquier régimen que se imponga a los hondureños.

 ————————

No Support for Dictatorship! Support the Honduran People!

Honduran Solidarity Network Statement on Honduras Elections: December 8, 2017

The Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN) of North America condemns in the strongest possible manner the violence and repression against the Honduran people defending their vote and human rights against fraud and dictatorship. A human rights observer delegation of members of the Honduras Solidarity Network (La Voz de los de Abajo Chicago, CODEPINK, and Marin County Task Force on the Americas) have just returned from Honduras where they were with the Honduran people before, during and after the November 26th elections.

The HSN understands the 2017 electoral crisis to be a result of the on-going 2009 military coup d’état in Honduras, fully backed by the U.S. and Canadian governments. In the 8.5 years since the coup, the HSN has joined national and international organizations in demanding a stop to U.S. and Canadian security funding and training, and other assistance from USAID to the regime. The HSN and our human rights delegation in Honduras are witness to how the years of support for the regime is being used to repress and terrorize Hondurans and the country into accepting a fraudulent election. The US State Department’s November 30th certification of Human Rights is another outrageous attempt to whitewash a repressive government in the midst of a political and human rights crisis.

The HSN has witnessed countless human rights abuses committed in a state of impunity. Honduran human rights organization, the Committee of the Families of the Detained and Disappeared (COFADEH) issued a report on December 6, 2017 that outlines the abuses by state security forces. COFADEH has documented 14 assassinations (primarily by Military Police), 51 people injured (7 seriously), and 844 detentions since the November 26 elections. Just like after the 2009 coup, these mass violations will likely go unpunished and our governments, to date, have said nothing about violence, repression and abuses committed under the command of Juan Orlando Hernandez (JOH) against the Honduran population.

On election day our delegation witnessed vote buying and received reports from citizens of fraud and intimidation. One delegation team was the subject of intimidations and threats from the paid National Party (PN) activists at a polling station and when an official electoral custodian and a police officer intervened they were also threatened by the PN activists. We report this to highlight the repressive atmosphere during the elections, and therefore, the impressive strength and courage of the people defying this intimidation then and now. On November 28, 29 and 30th the delegation members witnessed and were affected by mass repression by police and military against non-violent protests outside the ballot counting facility. Tear gas was fired indiscriminately, and police and military beat protesters violently and dragged some people inside the facility. Furthermore, police officers report that they received orders to open fire with live ammunition on unarmed citizens during the massive mobilizations.

Based on our delegation reports, testimonies from victims and human rights and social justice organizations and independent media, we add our voices to the outcry demanding an end to all support, political and economic to the Hernandez regime, an end to the repression and continuing fraud, and no recognition of any regime imposed on the Honduran people.

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En Defensa del Padre Melo – In Defense of Father Ismael ‘Melo” Moreno

En español aquí

Statement by the Honduras Solidarity Network of North America

Our network emphatically rejects the recent accusations against Padre Ismael “Melo” Moreno made by the Rector of the National Autonomous University Julieta Castellanos on July 25, 2017 in which she accused the Padre and members of the Jesuit organizations in Honduras, as well as members of electoral opposition parties LIBRE and PINU of being responsible for the current crisis at the UNAH and of “fomenting anarchy”.

Members of the HSN are very familiar with the work of Padre Melo, Radio Progreso and ERIC-SJ over many years. That work has always been to understand the problems and needs of the majority of Hondurans, to give them a place in which to express themselves, and to advocate for solutions that would strengthen democracy and end conflict and violence – not foment it.

Ms. Castellanos’ assertions that Padre Melo is responsible for the crises and violence in the University is not only absurd but dangerous. It is part of a campaign to discredit critics of the Honduran regime and its officials; it seeks to intimidate free speech and political opposition and puts these defenders and communicators at risk for their lives. There is a pattern of such accusations by government officials and friends of the regime against Honduran and international DDHH groups and against Hondurans . Other well known targets of these inflammatory accusations have included Berta Caceres of COPINH (assassinated in 2016) and recently her daughters, as well as Berta Oliva of COFADEH. In Honduras, where impunity and human rights violations are endemic, these kinds of accusations are in fact threats and put the named defenders at a clear risk for physical violence, and even death.

Calls for the Rector and government to dialogue in good faith with the students, to comply with previous agreements with the students, and to end the criminalization and state repression against the student movement are necessary and legitimate activities for human rights defenders and for Honduran society.

We also are watching, with profound concern, the violence against the students. We condemn the selective assassinations of students and their family members, and the militarization of university campuses around the country that has been ongoing for many months. We have not forgotten the assassinations of other student activists in recent years such as 14 year old Soad Nicole Ham Bustillo, murdered in March of 2015 after denouncing President Hernandez on national TV.

We also condemn the general impunity for crimes against defenders of the environment, indigenous rights and land rights, of journalists and of those opposing the regime that include Berta Caceres Flores, Margarita Murillo and the hundreds more murdered since the coup in 2009.

The US and Canadian governments continue to provide substantial money, training and resources to the Honduran Security and Police apparatus. We continue to observe that this assistance only facilitates and helps to perpetuate human rights violations and state violence against the people of Honduras. This aid must be ended – or that reason we support the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act introduced in the US Congress on March 2, 2017.

We hold the Honduran government responsible for the safety and liberty of Padre Melo and the entire team of Radio Progreso and ERIC-SJ.

Honduras Solidarity Network in North America (HSN) July 31, 2017

online references

https://www.facebook.com/people/Ismael-M-P-Melo/100012362883051

https://youtu.be/qbzqYojZbXM

https://www.facebook.com/unahmeu/

PADRE MELO

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/1299

https://schakowsky.house.gov/press-releases/schakowsky-statement-on-the-threats-made-to-berta-caceres-family/

https://ellison.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/rep-ellison-statement-on-threats-to-berta-c-ceres-family

https://kaptur.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/kaptur-statement-threats-human-rights-defenders-honduras

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June 2017 Week of Action in Solidarity with Honduras!

 

8 Year Anniversary of the Jun 2009 coup in Honduras and one year since the assassination of Berta Cáceres.

Honduras Solidarity Network is uniting with our member organization Witness for Peace and other  organizations for  Week of Action for the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act!

To support the Berta Cáceres Human Rights in Honduras Act, HR 1299.

www.witnessforpeace.org/ bertacaceresact

Sunday, June 25th

Kick off the Week of Action by joining a webinar coordinated by the Honduras Solidarity Network: register for the webinar here.  Consider hosting a viewing party in your community!

Monday, June 26th

Join Berta’s family in calling for the Berta Cáceres Act.  Learn more about Berta’s life and legacy, the broader human rights crisis in Honduras, and the connections to US-funded militarization and ongoing security aid. Write to your Member of Congress and help us circulate a video about Berta and the importance of the bill on social media.   video here  This Monday we’ll be circulating/sharing it widely on social media, including sharing it on Reps pages and our own, as the first day of Congressional action.

Tuesday, June 27

Engage communities that are important to you, to help build awareness about the ongoing violence in Honduras and ensure their support for the Berta Cáceres Act. Organize your faith community, labor union, or other community organization to endorse the bill.

Wednesday, June 28

On the anniversary of the 2009 coup d’etat, join us in amplifying the voices of Hondurans calling for justice for Berta and demanding an end of military support for the Honduran state. Participate in our social media campaigns to publicly contact your Representative, and help Honduran organizations share their calls for justice.

Thursday, June 29

Join our friends at the Sierra Club in exploring the details of Berta’s assassination and honoring her life as an environmentalist, feminist, and visionary leader. Help us circulate their recent article about Berta’s life, assassination, and trial by sharing on social media and sending to your Representative.

Friday, June 30th

Finish the week by making and sharing your own video about the need for the Berta Cáceres Act. Help circulate other videos by posting them on social media and sharing them with your friends and Members of Congress, with the tags #justiceforberta and #bertacaceresact

We’ll be sending more information about the specific focus of each day of the Week of Action, and the Witness for Peace webpage for the Berta Cáceres Act will have information about each day’s focus. Thank you for your advocacy!

 

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A Personal Appeal from Karen Spring and the Honduras Solidarity Network: Support Solidarity

Donate to Honduras Solidarity Network

From Karen Spring in Honduras:

For 2016, the U.S. government approved $750 million USD for the Alliance for Prosperity (AfP) for the Northern Triangle countries – Honduras being one. Despite widespread and well-documented violations of basic human rights, rampant impunity, total lack of confidence in the judiciary and state security forces, the U.S. has simply continued its decades-long policy of imperialism, neoliberalism, and militarization in Honduras. The only thing that has changed with the U.S.’s support this year is the plan’s name.

Human Rights Delegation (Karen Spring pictured far right) at Berta Carcere’s Grave

As the Honduras-based Coordinator for the Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN), your financial contributions support the work that I do with Honduran communities and organizations in resistance to the unjust neoliberal economic model and U.S. and Canadian foreign policy. 2016 has been an extremely difficult year for the Honduran movement and their allies like the HSN and other international groups. For me, 2016 will be remembered as the year that indigenous activist Berta Caceres was assassinated in her home. Berta provided endless guidance to activists like myself and she was one of the most exceptional Honduran political analysts and movement leaders in the region. She is greatly missed. Berta is just one of many activists that have been killed in Honduras since the 2009 military coup.

What made 2016 different from previous years is how daring the Honduran government has gotten in targeting critics of its neoliberal policies and enhanced its fear and terror campaigns against those who resist. Unfortunately, we expect 2017 to be very similar. International solidarity allies should not shy away from Honduras or feel discouraged – this is the moment when solidarity is needed the most!

But at this very moment of great need, my funding is running out! By March 2017, the gift that has enabled me to be the Honduras Solidarity Network’s hands, eyes, and voice on the ground will run out. It is only through the tax-deductible support of people such as yourself that my position will continue beyond March.

This is a short summary of what I, with the HSN’s support, have done this year to resist U.S. and Canadian foreign policy in Honduras and to support the courageous Honduran social movement:

·         Coordinated or assisted in the coordination of six educational delegations of U.S. and Canadian citizens to Honduras.

·         Provided an immediate response to Berta Caceres’ assassination on March 2 including being present on the ground for days following her death; immediate assistance to Mexican witness, Gustavo Castro being held in police custody; facilitating communication to international allies and media, amongst other actions

·         Published a report about a Honduran community defending their graveyard from the expansion of Canadian company Aura Mineral’s open-pit gold mine

·         Provided information, interviews, and/or contextual analysis to various international media including The Guardian, Outsider Magazine, the New Yorker, the Toronto Star, amongst many others.

·         Conducted research upon request for various grassroots Honduran organizations including COPINH, OFRANEH, Azacualpa Environmental Committee, the Siria Valley Environmental Committee, amongst others.

·         Provided on-going physical accompaniment and meticulous casework including asylum cases and migration detention cases in the U.S.; U.S. drug war cases including the massacre of four indigenous Miskito in Ahuas in May 2012; Canadian investors in neoliberal tourist projects on Garifuna land in Trujillo Bay, amongst others.

·         Mobilized the HSN’s emergency human rights alerts when the life or freedom of Honduran human rights activists were in danger; provided a monthly update for the HSN’s monthly membership call, and participated in determining HSN’s program and priorities.

PLEASE SUPPORT MY WORK AS PART OF THE HSN’S SOLIDARITY WITH THE HONDURAN SOCIAL MOVEMENT. THANK YOU.  

Donate to Honduras Solidarity Network

Karen Spring

Honduras-based Coordinator, Honduras Solidarity Network (HSN)

Hondurassolidarity.org

Karen’s personal blog: Aquiabajo.org

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HSN Statement on Digital Attacks on HSN and Honduran Organizations

Despues del ingles está en español 

 

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The Honduras Solidarity Network in North America:  

Declaration on Recent Digital Attacks Against HSN

November 17, 2016

A new blog and Facebook page appeared recently calling itself “Defensores de Honduras” (Defenders of Honduras), which, on November 14th, published distortions and misinformation in an attempt to discredit our network and our coordinator in Honduras, Karen Spring. 

This attack was part of an article published on the blog and FB page about the assassinations of two members of the campesino organization MUCA, including its president Jose Angel Flores, that accuses human rights defenders Berta Oliva and COFADEH and others of protecting drug traffickers in northern Honduras. The article also prominently displays our organization’s logo and a picture of Karen Spring, while denigrating our solidarity work, asserting that the HSN is “totally politicized and aligned with the extremist ideas…”. (1)

The viewpoint and work of the HSN, a network of diverse organizations from the US and Canada, is no secret. The HSNetwork was organized immediately after the 2009 coup in solidarity with the Honduran people’s movement and organizations that opposed the ousting of the legitimately elected president and in defense of human rights. We have organized accompaniment and educational delegations and speaking tours; denounced violence and repression in Honduras including all the assassinations of campesinos and campesinas in the Aguan Valley. We have called for complete investigations of all the assassinations.  We oppose the US State Department’s September 2016 certification of human rights progress in Honduras and lobby the US congress to end US financing of state violence in Honduras, including supporting the recently proposed Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act in the House of Representatives.  We believe that it is this work that is making our organization a target of attacks. (2)

We deplore these attacks and condemn the fact that they are a provocation that increases the risk to persons already at risk for their work in defense of human rights. We consider the attacks from “Defenders of Honduras” to be the latest in an orchestrated campaign of psychological warfare to confuse and destroy the social and political movements opposed to authoritarianism and militarization and to isolate them from international support. We recognize this scenario. It is the same script written by the US State Department and US intelligence agencies and used in the 1954 overthrow of Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz,  in the Central American conflicts of the 1980’s and in Colombia to the present day. It is a scenario to justify and incite violence and conflict and to create “false positives” and call them extremists. This is about government-backed impunity and an effort to destroy the social fabric of the movements in the Aguan. The very use of the term “extremist ideas” reveals that this is not really about the crimes of narcos  in the Aguan.

Since the 2013 elections and even more since President Hernandez took office, a plethora of social media accounts with similar phrasing and messages and false accusations have appeared attacking Honduran journalists, social movement leaders, and human rights defenders, both national and international. The accusations echo statements made by President Hernández and his administration’s officials, which claim that in defending human, civil and territorial rights, these people are defaming the country, organizing violence, or more recently that they are linked to organized crime. Meanwhile, international solidarity and human rights activists are accused of being “aligned with the extremist ideas” of those Honduran defenders and activists. In fact, it is the Hernández administration and Honduran security forces who organize violence against the social movements and anyone who dares to publicize or advocate for their cause.

The HSN is not neutral, but we are truthful. The truth is that we stand with the Honduran people and with their organized social movements. We defend human and civil rights within the framework of recognized international standards, and we work to end our governments’ support for the violent authoritarianism and neoliberalism that is destroying Honduras.  

(1) https://defensoresdehonduras.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/quien-protege-a-los-sicarios-del-bajo-aguan/

(2) Hondurassolidarity.org

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La Red de Solidaridad con Honduras de Norteamérica:  

Declaración ante los ataques digitales recientes en contra de la HSN

21 de noviembre, 2016

Un blog y página de Facebook recién aparecieron bajo el título “Defensores de Honduras,” lo cual ha publicado distorsiones y desinformación con la intención de desacreditar a nuestra red y nuestra coordinadora en Honduras, Karen Spring. 

Este ataque fue parte de un artículo publicado en el blog y la página de Facebook sobre los asesinatos de dos miembros de la organización campesina MUCA, incluyendo a su presidente José Ángel Flores, en lo cual acusan a la defensora de derechos humanos Berta Oliva y al COFADEH y otras personas de proteger a narcotraficantes en el norte de Honduras. El artículo también incluye en una posición prominente el logotipo de nuestra organización y una imagen de Karen Spring, a la vez menospreciando nuestro trabajo de solidaridad y diciendo que la Red de Solidaridad con Honduras (HSN por siglas en inglés) está “totalmente politizada y alineada con las mismas ideas extremistas…”. (1)

La perspectiva y el trabajo de la HSN, una red de organizaciones diversas de los Estados Unidos y Canadá, no es ningún secreto. La red HSN fue organizada inmediatamente después del golpe de estado del 2009 en solidaridad con el movimiento popular hondureño y las organizaciones que se opusieron al derroque del presidente legítimo y electo y quienes defendieron los derechos humanos. Hemos organizado delegaciones y giras de acompañamiento y educación; hemos denunciado la violencia y la represión en Honduras incluyendo todos los asesinatos de las campesinas y los campesinos del valle del Aguán. Hemos hecho llamados a investigaciones completas de todos los asesinatos. Nos oponemos a la certificación de progreso en materia de derechos humanos emitida por el Departamento de Estado de los EE.UU. en septiembre del 2016 y hacemos cabildeo en el congreso de los Estados Unidos para cortar el financiamiento a la violencia estatal en Honduras, trabajo que abarca nuestro apoyo a la recién propuesta Ley Berta Cáceres por los Derechos Humanos en Honduras en la Cámara de Representantes. Creemos que este es el trabajo que ha convertido nuestra organización en blanco de ataques. (2)

Reprobamos estos ataques y denunciamos que son una provocación que aumenta el riesgo a personas ya bajo riesgo por sus labores en defensa de los derechos humanos. Consideramos que los ataques de “Defensores de Honduras” son la táctica más recién de una campaña orquestada de guerra sicológica para confundir y destruir los movimientos sociales y políticos que se oponen al autoritarismo y la militarización y aislarlos del apoyo internacional. Reconocemos este escenario. Es el mismo escenario utilizado por el Departamento del Estado de los EE.UU y sus agencias de inteligencia para derrocar el gobierno del Presidente Guatemalteco Jacobo Arbenz en 1954, en los conflictos de Centroamérica en la década de los 1980, y en Colombia hasta el día de hoy. Es un escenario utilizado para justificar y provocar violencia y conflicto y para crear “positivos falsos” y llamarlos extremistas. Esto se trata de la impunidad respaldada por el gobierno y de esfuerzos de destruir el tejido social de los movimientos en el Aguán. El uso mismo del término “ideas extremistas” revela que esto realmente no se trata de los crímenes de los narcos en el Aguán.

Desde las elecciones del 2013 y aún más desde que el Presidente Hernandez ascendió a la presidencia, un montón de cuentas en las redes sociales con frases, mensajes y acusaciones falsas muy parecidas han aparecido para atacar a periodistas, líderes y lideresas de los movimientos sociales y defensoras y defensores de derechos humanos, tanto de Honduras como del exterior. Las acusaciones son un eco de las declaraciones hechas por el Presidente Hernández y los oficiales de su administración, las cuales afirman que al defender los derechos humanos, civiles y territoriales esta gente está difamando al país, organizando la violencia, o, más recién, que está vinculada con el crimen organizado. Mientras tanto, se les acusa a las y los activistas internacionales de derechos humanos y solidaridad de ser “alineada con las mismas ideas extremistas” de estos defensores y defensoras y activistas hondureñas. De hecho, es la administración del Presidente Hernández y las fuerzas de seguridad quienes organizan la violencia en contra de los movimientos sociales y cualquier persona que se atreve a amplificar o hacer incidencia por su causa.

La HSN no es neutral, pero sí nos apegamos a la verdad. La verdad es que estamos con el pueblo hondureño y sus movimientos sociales organizados. Defendemos los derecho humanos y civiles dentro del marco de las normas internacionalmente reconocidas y trabajamos para acabar con el apoyo de nuestro gobierno a la combinación de autoritarismo y neoliberalismo violento que está destruyendo a Honduras.  

(1) https://defensoresdehonduras.wordpress.com/2016/11/14/quien-protege-a-los-sicarios-del-bajo-aguan/

(2) Hondurassolidarity.org

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New Assassinations – HSN Statement

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En Español

October 18, 2016

Assassination, Repression, Impunity Continue in Honduras

US is Satisfied and Certifies Human Rights Requirements for More Aid

The Honduras Solidarity Network in North America denounces the assassination today, only a few hours before this writing,  of Jose Angel Flores, President of the campesino organization MUCA (Unified Campesino Movement of the Aguan) and Silmer Dionosio George, another MUCA leader. The campesino activists were killed by gunmen as they left a meeting of MUCA members. While we are still waiting for more information about the murders, we wish to emphasize that both men were recognized to be at risk by the Inter-American Human Rights Commission and were recipients of that organization’s precautionary measures making the Honduran government responsible for their safety. 

We are indignant that in the face of the ongoing and documented violence, repression and corruption involving the Honduran government, the US State Department has certified that it is satisfied that the Honduran government has taken effective steps to improve human rights. This inexplicable certification, given the situation in Honduras, clears the way for $55 million in U.S. aid.

Week by week, the human rights violations and violence against the Honduran people by the State continues.  We cite, as examples, some recent incidents:

  • On October 9th there were two separate assassination attempts against leaders of COPINH. The General Coordinator, Tomás Gómez Membreño, was driving the organization’s vehicle when he was fired on by unknown persons. Earlier, before dawn on  the same day a local COPINH leader Alexander García was asleep in his home with his wife and children when unknown persons opened fire on the house, riddling it with bullets. By sheer luck the victims escaped injury in both cases.  These assaults occurred  after all of the case files on the investigation of the March 2016 murder of COPINH’s leader Berta Caceres, were mysteriously stolen from a vehicle owned by a government judicial official on September 29th. The United Nations and the OAS anti-corruption entity in Honduras (MACCHI) have demanded an explanation and investigation from the Honduran government of why the files were not secured and how they  were stolen.  There has also been no follow on the reports of a “hit list” for political assassinations being implemented by a special group of the Honduran military.(1) We reiterate our support of the family of COPINH’s coordinator Berta Caceres Flores (assassinated on March 2, 2016) in their demands that all those responsible in any way  for that murder be brought to justice and that the illegal Agua Zarca project be ended. 
  • October 3  – A protest of privatization of highways at the toll road booths near Tegucigalpa was attacked by National Police using quantities of tear gas. The peaceful protest included elected members of the political opposition in the national congress. On September 30 the minister of security, in a clear attempt to stop citizens from exercising the right to assemble and to protest,  had publicly threatened repression for anyone planning to protest.
  • October  10 – During a protest against privatization of the highways at the new toll road near Progreso, armed, uniformed on-duty National Police from the special unit called the COBRAS threatened a participant during the peaceful protest, saying to well known writer, poet and photographer, Hector Flores (Chaco de la Pitoreta), “You are easy to find and to lose.”

Our network is also in receipt of numerous complaints for this same period of continued criminalization, intimidation and violence against small farmers, and indigenous communities and we also take note of the reports of the intimidation against journalists, lawyers and the political opposition.

The U.S. government continues to support and enable  the violence and intimidation against Hondurans by the Honduran government and the national and international corporations it serves. President Juan Orlando Hernandez  has hired a US public relations firm and has traveled himself to the US at least 4 times in less than 4 months in a PR offensive aimed at countering the facts. The US State Dept. certification is part of this public relations “theater of the absurd” as it states that,  “We have certified that the central government of Honduras is taking effective steps to, among other things, combat corruption…; implement reforms, policies, and programs to improve transparency and strengthen public institutions, including increasing the capacity and independence of the judiciary and the Office of the Attorney General;…investigate and prosecute in the civilian justice system members of military and police forces who are credibly alleged to have violated human rights, and ensure that the military and police are cooperating in such cases; cooperate with commissions against impunity, as appropriate, and with regional human rights entities; and protect the right of political opposition parties, journalists, trade unionists, human rights defenders, and other civil society activists to operate without interference” (2)

We condemn these actions and once again make the demand that the US stop funding and training Honduran security forces, and stop supporting the megaprojects and privatizations that are behind the Honduran government’s ruthless assaults on the people’s human and civil rights.

(1)  https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/jun/21/berta-caceres-name-honduran-military-hitlist-former-soldier

(2) http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/ps/2016/10/263159.htm

TAKE ACTION:  STOP US FUNDING OF VIOLENCE IN HONDURAS!

Demand that your US Congressional Representatives support the Berta Caceres Human Rights in Honduras Act – HR5474.  Since the 2009 coup, solidarity and human rights organizations in the US and in Honduras have worked to stop US funding violence in Honduras. On June 14, 2016, US Congressman Hank Johnson of Georgia introduced HR5474. This Act would cut off US funding and support for the repressive Honduran military and national police and end US support for funding of mega-projects against the wishes of the local population. As of September 25, 2016, 41 representatives have signed on in support.

Please contact your congressional representatives and find out if they are supporting HR 5474.

Honduras Solidarity Network in North America

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