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Escalating Sexual Aggression Against Feminist And Women Protesters Against Military Coup In Honduras Ignored By Global & National Media

By Margaret Thompson
FIRE – Feminist International Radio Endeavour/Radio Internacional Feminista

August 17, 2009 – Tegucigalpa, Honduras — Global & national media are ignoring the growing intensity of sexual aggression and torture of women demonstrators in Honduras after the military coup d’etat & and violent repression, according to Honduran feminists and activists.

“The media (in Honduras) are manipulating our minds, because we see (in the streets) what is really happening” and they are not reporting the reality of the violent repression by the military and police, declared Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the first lady of Honduras and wife of Pres. Zelaya, who spoke to a Forum by Feminists in Resistance of Honduras today. Most of the mainstream media are owned by supporters of the military coup, so their reports reflect efforts by the defacto regime to create an image of “normality,” that all is well, that there was in fact no military coup, they merely ousted an ex-president who violated the constitution, according to Castro de Zelaya.

The first lady spoke to an audience of about 120 mainly women, including an international delegation from Central America, Mexico, Canada, Spain and the United States participating in a Feminist Transgressional Watch . The group is visiting Honduras for Women’s Human Rights Week, and conducting a feminist observatory of violations of women’s human rights, and feminist strategies of resistance to the military coup.

As popular resistance to the military coup continues with massive daily street marches, military and police officials are becoming more aggressive with both female and male demonstrators, beating them with clubs, shooting into crowds with (rubber or real) bullets, conducting large scale arrests or detentions, torture, and assassinations, little of which is covered in many media reports, said Indira Mendoza of Catrachas. Mendoza has videotaped some of these incidents directly or has testimony of witnesses. Hospitals and clinics are filled with young people in particular, with broken arm or leg bones, head injuries, and (rubber) bullet wounds.

Women’s and human rights groups are receiving reports of escalating sexual aggression against women both in the demonstrations and in detentions, ranging from verbal obscenities and threats, to women being grabbed or beaten with batons on their buttocks, to torture and rape in detentions, noted Adela Coria of the Center for Women’s Studies (CEM). In today’s Forum in Tegucigalpa, Yadida Minero reported that she had just taken a young woman to a radio station to denounce her torture and rape with a rifle while in detention at a police station.

Likewise, in the United States, the diminishing number of media reports on Honduras reflect how Pres. Obama led by Secretary State Hillary Clinton is backing away from his originally strong condemnation of the coup which ousted the legally elected President Zelaya, according to Breny Mendoza, a Honduran living in the US, and professor at California State University in Northridge. The intensive US news coverage and outrage in the US mainstream media about the controversial presidential elections in Iran is a stark contrast to the minimal coverage of the military coup in Honduras which ousted a democratically elected president. And the front and center role of women including feminists in the massive demonstrations, and the increasingly aggressive reaction of military and police to the women are also absent in media reports.

Despite the growing sexual aggression against women in Honduras, they are not filing complaints with the police for a number of reasons. Sara Rosales, a human rights lawyer with CEM, noted that women are afraid to report any violence since it is the police and military who are in part responsible for the violent repression, and the women also figure that such efforts are futile, because nothing will come of it.

After years of national and global campaigns about domestic violence, complaints filed by women had been increasing in recent years, says Rosales, also a member of Feminists in Resistance in Honduras.
There were 12,000 complaints filed with police in Honduras denouncing violence against women in 2007, and 20,000 reports last year, noted Rosales. But since the coup there have been very few complaints filed, which clearly demonstrates the connection between domestic violence and violence against women in armed conflict, both of which have increased in recent weeks.

Also, feminists and women’s activists are very disheartened that the de facto coup government kicked out the Minister of Women under Pres. Zelaya, Selma Estrada de Uclés in late June with the coup, and installed María Martha Díaz, a member of the ultra conservative Catholic group Opus Dei. Díaz has refused to process any complaints filed regarding violations of women’s human rights since the coup.

When feminists rallied outside the Institute of Women (INAM) to protest the policies of Díaz as de facto minister, she called in the military, who beat the protesters with batons.

Women are well aware of the irony of this assault. Years of struggle by feminists and other women is now lost, said Rosales. “It all changed in one day,” noted Breny Mendoza, a professor at California State University in Northridge and originally from Honduras.

Honduran feminists and investigators have received a vast number of complaints about violations of women’s human rights by the current coup regime in the past six weeks, and have conducted interviews for testimonies of 18 women. As part of the feminist observatory, human rights lawyers and activists are working with Honduran feminists to prepare a report on these 18 cases, which were presented to the InterAmerican Commission on Human Rights, which is also visiting Honduras during the week of August 17th.

In the meantime, women including Feminists in Resistance are continuing to be front and center in the marches. “No more coups (golpes), and no more golpes (beatings) of women!” shout the women as they take to the streets. “Quien somos? Somos Feministas en Resistencia!”


US Secretary of States Hillary Clinton has refused to declare the siege a coup d’etat. Some say that this is because it would mean cutting all military and economic aid, beyond the small amount frozen in early July. And Clinton, along with US Sen. John McCain recently met with de facto coup Pres. Michelleti in Washington, who had come to meet with members of Congress as well to convince them that all is well in Honduras. Clinton is also on the board of the Millennium Development Corporation, which has continued to distribute millions of dollars to Honduras since the coup, according to Bill Conroy, as published in The Narcosphere on August 9, 2009.

Margie Thompson is a member of an international delegation that is in Honduras this week (August 17-21) conducting a local and virtual Observatorio de la Transgresión Feminista (Feminist Transformation Watch) to shed light on women’s rights violations that are occurring under the de facto regime that overthrew the democratically elected president in a coup d’etat on June 28th. For more information visit


Honduras: Human rights crisis threatens as repression increases

Honduras: Human rights crisis threatens as repression increases


Index Number: AMR 37/004/2009

Date Published: 19 August 2009

Categories: Honduras

August 7th Human Rights Report,
translated by Lena Mortensen

Sun, 08/16/2009 – 13:38 — AP


International Mission for Observation of the Human Rights Situation in Honduras

Executive Summary of the Final Report
Translation by Lena Mortensen

August 7, 2009

Since the coup d’état of June 28, 2009, which drastically altered the country’s constitutional order, the situation in Honduras has been one of grave violations of human rights and restrictions of democratic liberties. The difficulties and obstacles to accessing justice are evident and freedom of the press is being drastically limited. This report describes the results of the international observation Mission of human rights that was in Honduras from the 17 to the 26th of July.

Honduras is a country with a high incidence of violence and with grave antecedents relating to violations of the human rights of its population. However, the international Mission would like to clarify that the events described in this report are grave and systematic violations of human rights that are linked to the coup d’état. Some of these violations originate in the application of laws in open violation of international agreements for the protection of human rights, the militarization of security and state institutions, abuses on the part of security forces, and the lack of response from the protective mechanisms of the state.

One of the fundamental conclusions of the visit consists in determining to what extent Decree No. 11-2009 – which establishes restrictions on a wide range of fundamental rights including personal liberty, movement, and others- as well as its application, go against the corresponding international obligations of the State. The defects identified in Decree 11-2009 render illegitimate the measures that have been adopted on the basis of this decree– for example, the more than two thousand arbitrary detentions during curfew, and the restrictions on freedom of movement in the streets.

Another of the fundamental discoveries consists of establishing the lack of protection for numerous individuals affected by grave violations perpetrated against them. This situation arises from the inadequate response by the institutions that are responsible for monitoring the guarantee the fundamental rights of Hondurans. This is evidenced by the obvious lack of diligence of the Special Prosecutor for Human Rights, as well as in the ineffectiveness of the Supreme Court to decide the legality of the decree for the suspension of rights and other protections regarding the violations of fundamental rights occurring in relation to the coup, and the negligence of the National Commission for Human Rights to act according to its mandate.

We have ascertained serious limitations on the freedom of expression and harassment intended to restrict the circulation of information criticizing the de facto regime. As well, a portion of the mass media in the country displays a disrespectful attitude towards the diversity of ideas. On occasion, these media outlets have echoed positions that are openly repressive and incite violence against supporters of the deposed government. Along these lines we ascertained a polarization of society, incited by media outlets favorable to the coup, using elements of propaganda direct from the Cold War, with emphasis on linking social movements, as well as various members of the deposed government, to international terrorism or organized crime.

The Mission concludes that what is at stake is much more than a simple political struggle to reestablish legal order and permit a legitimate president to return to power. It consists of unresolved social conflict, part of which is shaped by an economic elite, allied with the Army, that usurped power antidemocratically, and diverse sectors that are calling for a new institutional and social order that would entail greater space for citizen participation. It is for this reason that repression is directed in particular against campesino leaders, environmentalists, indigenous people, women that mobilize for their rights, and against union leaders. The Mission moreover affirms an institutional malfunctioning, beginning with the absence of autonomous control over the powers that be, the excessive politicization of the Judiciary, the lack of even the most minimal of legal protection before the maximum authority of the State, the definition of ambiguous types of
crimes such as “treason against the homeland” or the absence of penal sanctions in the case of deportation of Hondurans which is constitutionally prohibited; requiring profound changes in the structure of the State to assure that it prioritizes the general interest of the people, their collective well-being, full respect for human rights, and social peace.

In view of the electoral process that would lead towards the election of a new president in the month of November, and if current conditions are maintained, the Mission considers that the right to political participation is marred by the coup d’état. Therefore, is said process continues and is realized under the current de facto government, the result of said elections would be equally illegitimate, and should not be recognized by the international community, as has been established by the Organization of the American States (OAS).

During interviews with different State authorities the Mission has also warned that they could be constituting a crime of political persecution, by authority of the International Criminal Court, for the systematic repression unleashed against sympathizers of the government of the deposed President José Manuel Zelaya.

We wish to emphasize the outstanding role that numerous human rights defenders have played and are continuing to play in this situation, who despite adversity, lack of resources, and the risks to their personal integrity and their lives, have raised their voices to denounce the abuses, protect the victims, and defend the institution of democracy.

Finally, the Mission is baffled by the attitude of support for the coup d’état demonstrated by the highest ranks of the Honduran Catholic church and by representatives of various evangelical churches, as well as by their active involvement in organizing demonstrations of support for the de facto government.


I. To the International Community of States
1- Take all measures necessary to contribute to guaranteeing the enjoyment of human rights by the Honduran population;
2- Maintain a firm position condemning the coup d’état, demanding the restitution of President Zelaya, and the reestablishment of constitutional order;

3- Maintain the suspension of diplomatic relations with the de facto regime, as well as any economic support or financing directed towards the institutions of the State involved in the coup;
4- Refuse recognition of the results of elections called by the de facto government, as was also expressed by the Secretary General of the Organization of American States, in addition to refusing recognition of any decision adopted by said government;

Concerning bilateral relations with Honduras
5- The embassies present in the country should continue and reinforce the appropriate measures to contribute to the protection of human rights defenders, civil society activists, among others, by means of:

• Visits to the offices of the people and organizations at risk
• Constant invitations and exchanges with the same
• Logistic support that pertains to their security
• Implementation of an Alert and Emergency System immediately accessible to persons at risk

• In conjunction with international NGOs, open additional support to Honduran civil society, to reinforce their capacity to protect and monitor human rights. In particular, it is necessary to increase the human and financial resources so that they can tend to the needs within the country

6- International cooperation should maintain suspension of budgetary and programmatic support to State Institutions that have been involved in the coup d’état; maintain humanitarian aid, and maintain cooperation with the municipalities and with the organizations of Honduran civil society;

7- States should take action against those actors principally responsible for the coup-whether they be civilians, members of the military, or members of religious orders-such as the suspension of visas, prohibiting entry to third party states, and freezing overseas bank accounts.

Concerning relations between the European Union and Honduras
8- They should apply the following measures:
• The democratic clause as articulated in Article 1 of the Framework Accord of Cooperation between the European Union and Central America of 1993, that calls for the suspension of cooperation in the case of serious interruption of constitutional order

• Abstention of diplomatic relations at the level of vice-ministers of the illegitimate government, as well as with all of the diplomatic representatives of Honduras in the European Union that support the de facto government. Determine their immediate expulsion from European territory

• Suspension, in addition to that of budgetary support, of all of the programs directed towards the solvency of State institutions that have been involved in the coup d’état.
• Maintain the decision to suspend negotiations of the Accord of Association between the EU and Central America until constitutional order is restored in Honduras

• Suspension of Honduras from the General System of Preferences (GSP plus) of the European Union, in application of the 27 conventions on human rights, the environment, and democratic governance with which those States wishing to have duty-free access for their products to European territory must comply.

• Assist with the implementation of European Union guidelines for the protection of human rights defenders.

II. To the International Organizations
9- The Interamerican Commission for Human Rights should continue to monitor the human rights situation in Honduras and issue recommendations to protect the population in Honduras, in this sense we urge the following actions:

• Continue to execute cautionary measures to protect persons at risk
• Make a visit to the country at the earliest convenience and submit a report with the recommendations the ICHR finds advisable
10- The Security Council of the United Nations (UN) should denounce the coup d’état in Honduras, support the actions taken by the OAS, and additionally should take essential measures that will contribute to the reestablishment of constitutional order, which could include ordering economic sanctions and establishing a fixed time limit so that democratically elected authorities can be reestablished in their posts.

11- The UN should activate the appropriate mechanisms within their systems of protection of Human Rights to confront the human rights situation in Honduras, in particular they should consider the appropriateness of:
• Adopting a resolution at the level of the Human Rights Council

• Establishment of a permanent office for the High Commissioner of Human Rights in Honduras
• Make visits of verification by the relevant special rapporteurs concerning the freedom of expression, human rights defenders, and the independence of judges and lawyers, as well as by the Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, and the Subcommittee on the Prevention of Torture

12- The International Criminal Court (ICC) should act preemptively. Accordingly, we solicit the General Prosecutor of the ICC to take immediate steps leading to a possible criminal investigation in accordance with Article 7, numeral h) of the Rome Statute, which outlines the standards for the crime of political persecution.

III. To the authorities and Honduran civil society

13- To the Special Proescutor for Human Rights to act with greater diligence in the defense of the human rights of the Honduran people and demand emergency cooperation from the international community in order to carry out the work of the office more effectively.

14-Ramón Custodio, National Human Rights Commissioner, should either resign, or the Congress should fire him and name a person to the post who has not been engaged with the coup d’état, and who enjoys recognition for their work in the defense of human rights

15- The relevant judicial authorities should declare Decree No. 11-2009 unconstitutional

16- The authorities responsible for criminally and disciplinarily investigating those violations of human rights either committed or promoted by the de facto government must comply with their constitutional and legal duty, and should they fail to do so, they themselves should be made to respond for the denial of justice

17- To the forces of honduran society opposing the coup d’état, and to President José Manuel Zelaya – that the resistance continues in a peaceful form

18- To the members of the Armed Forces and Police of Honduras – that they comply with their duty to defend the constitutional order, that they are clear that they have the right to not obey orders that entail violating human rights, and that they are personally responsible for the indiscriminate use and/or abuse of force.

19- To the political forces and to civil society in general – that you convene a national dialog that would contribute to a new institutional, economic and social order, and that would ensure social peace, the rule of law, and full and comprehensive respect for human rights.

The individuals who made up the mission represent the following human rights organizations and networks: International Human Rights Federation (FIDH), the Center for Justice and International Law (CEJIL), Copenhagen Initiative for Central America and Mexico (CIFCA), FIAN International, the Inter-American Platform for Human Rights, Democracy and Development (PIDHDD), the Consultancy for Human Rights and Displacement (CODHES-Colombia)

, Austria-Suedwind, Human Rights Institute of the Universidad Centroamericana Jose Simeon Cañas (IDHUCA -El Salvador), Association Pro-Human Rights in Peru (APRODEH), the Institute for Policy Studies on Latin America and Africa (IEPALA, Spain), Federation of Associations for the defense and promotion of Human Rights (Spain), National Coordinator for Human Rights of Peru, Servicio Paz y Justicia (SERPAJ-Uruguay), Solidarity World (Belgium), and IBIS (Denmark), Continental Social Alliance, Alternative Connections, and the
Center for Tricontinental Studies (Louvaina – La Nueva).

Violations of Human Rights in Numbers

Rights Violated (American Convention on Human Rights)

Number of Victims according to Reports Received by the MissionRight to life (article 4): dead*

8 persons
Right to personal integrity **(article 5): agression, mistreatment, among others136 persons
The situation of the 600 families in the community of Guadalupe Carney.

Right to personal liberty (article 7):
Arbitrary detentions

6 persons accused by the time of this session
«More than 100 foreigners affected»
More than two thousand arbitrary detentions for reasons of curfew and participating in marches against the coup d’état.

Right to freedom of expression: the situation of journalists and others

12 journalists
8 Media organizations
* Violation of the right to life corresponds solely to deceased persons
** The instances of threats against life are registered as violations of personal integrity

AP’s blog

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Eyewitness Report: Repression in Tegucigalpa 8/12

Eyewitness Report – Tegucigalpa – Wednesday, August 12th
Brutal repression and intimidation

(Translated from a telephone report filed by Alexy Lanza at 9:35 pm Chicago time – translation by La Voz de los de Abajo).

Tear gas was fired directly into the crowds of protesters, rubber bullets and truncheons were used to disperse the thousands of Hondurans who had marched through the city to the National Congress today to protest against the coup and demand restitution of the constitutional government of Mel Zelaya.

There were many injuries and arrests – The soldiers and police, heavily armed and in full combat gear acting against unarmed men and women of all ages. In an unforgettable moment, I watched as a congressional Deputy from the anti-coup leftist party the Democratic Unification (UD), Marvin Ponce was attacked by at least 12 policemen and brutally beaten. He was seriously injured and was taken to the hospital; witnesses reported that at the hospital the police continued to beat and torment Ponce, interfering with his medical treatment.

As the police increased their violent sweep of the area I joined the rest of the protesters in fleeing the area; trying to avoid arrest or beatings or worse. I made my way to the Francisco Morazan National Autonomous University, which has been held by the students as part of the anti-coup resistance for weeks. The University has also been an organizing center and has provided shelter for people coming in from the rural areas to join in the protest movement. When I got to the University, people were trickling in from the downtown area. I saw one of the leaders from the Garifuna organization (OFRAHNI) who told me almost that a large number of compañeros from their organization were detained in the repression at the Congress.

Suddenly a large number of heavily armed soldiers arrived and attacked with tear gas, and rubber bullets forcing their way into university. They began arresting and beating the students and were able to seize control of at least a large part of the university. As the attack continued, I was forced to run from the troops and got away.

Today’s mobilizations were the second day of massive peaceful marches that began yesterday. Thousands of Hondurans responded to the call for increased mobilization by walking for as many as 5 days from the farthest corners of rural Honduras in order to get to one of the two major cities, Tegucigalpa or San Pedro Zula. Yesterday’s protests were not repressed but today was another story. There have also been increasing attacks of the death-squad type. Today, I spoke with Rafael Alegria from Via Campesina in Honduras who told me that last night (August 11th) after the day of mobilizations, at about 11:30 pm, the Via Campesina center was riddled with bullets fired by men who pulled up in front of the center in a civilian SUV. No one was injured, but the message is clear. Via Campesina is another organization that has offered its offices as an organizing center and shelter and Alegria has been detained and released and now has another threat of detention
against him.

The defacto coup government and its military are increasing the violence again to try and do away with the resistance movement of the Honduran people who are the only real obstacle standing in the way of the oligarchy’s plans. The National Front for Resistance Against the Coup has called for the mobilizations to continue tomorrow beginning at 8 am.

Everyone from the social organizations to the people in the streets who don’t belong to any organization, are calling for international solidarity to come to their aid in any way possible. They have been in the struggle for more than 40 days and need all of our help to continue.

(Alexy Lanza lives in Chicago and is a member of La Voz de los de Abajo, Casa Morazan and Producciones EN EL OJO-independent media)


Interview with Fanni Castillo, young Garifuna leader

I am Fanni Eliszabeth Solarzano Castillo and I represent the Garifuna community Triunfo de la Cruz.

Honduras Resiste: Since when have you participated in the National Resistance Front?

Fanni Eliszabeth Solarzano Castillo: Well it’s been 43 days, since the 29th of June we made outselves present here in Tegucigalpa with the National Black Fraternal Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH) and representing the different communities nationally.

HR: And why have you decided to come participate in this movement?

FC: Well I decided to come to support saying no to the coup because it is something that we had never thought we would live through. We have only heard the history, read books of the past, so it seems like a lie that we have to live through this. So I decided to come support because the things that President Manuel Zelaya were doing favored us, the poor people and also if we got the Constitutional Assembly it would have helped the Garifuna as minorities in Honduras and also for the future of out kids, because it’s not possible that they can live in a dictatorship that is practically like returning to slavery.

HR: And what benefits could a Constitutional Assembly bring and why so much rejection by the powerful, by the national elites and politicians?

FC: Well the benefits that it could bring would be to change the Constitution of the Republic, to be a change where we could all benefit, so the powerful, the elite as they say, don’t support because they think of themselves as owners of the country. They’re the ones who have big corporations, businesses and everything and why not, they are those who are considered as owners of our Garifuna communities. So we have to support the Constitutional Assembly, because as I repeat it’s a benefit for everyone.

HR: Outside of the capital do you think that there is support for the reinstatement of the elected President Manuel Zelaya?

FC: Well I think that there is support. In almost all 18 departments there is support, although all the bigges protests are here in Tegucigalpa. Almost all the movements of the best people come here because here is the biggest concentration but yes there is support, there are marchs and other actions in support of President Manuel Zelaya.

HR: You have participated in this movement since the 29th of June, can you tell me about what type of action you have done to support the return to democracy in Honduras?

FC: Well, the moral support of all, we were even able to walk to Nicaragua to support President Manuel Zelaya there. I can tell you that everybody supports the way they feel works best. But as Garifuna and as a woman we have supported a lot, we have left our families, out kids, our homes there in our communities to come here and be ready for everything, with our natural medicines, with a lot of things.

HR: In your participation together with the Garifunas and OFRANEH, have you been directly affected by the repression against the resistance movement?

Yes, we have suffered insults, threats, persecutions, in June they even asked us for an “Atlantic Permission” to be able to freely circulate in Tegucigalpa, and we have no idea where that law came from. Well, they have taken away our drums and pursued us when we crossed towards Nicaragua, we walked almost 30 hours through all the valleys and mountains of Danli to get to Nicaragua being pursued by the military. And I can proudly tell you as Garifuna we were the only ones that could laugh at the security of the military and that made them even angrier with us and finally there were some friends that had been behind and they were detained and practically assaulted by them and thanks to national and international contacts we can say that world wide calls started getting made to the police post in Paraiso and Danli. They let these friends go more quickly, but they did suffer racial insults, well they said everything, but than god nothing more happened, but
yes we have suffered lots of agression by the military.

HR: And within the Garifuna community Triunfo de la Cruz, how have they been affected by the Coup d’Etat and what is the level of support for the resistance?

FC: I can say that still, almost 43 we have been feeling consequences, because already everything in the community is getting more expensive, the food that we are used to preparing the supplies that we buy, everything is a little more expensive, so that’s why we reject the coup and we want the de facto government to leave there and we want our president to return so that everything goes back to normal because we still haven’t had consequences, in the future this will be chaos for us, because we run risks as people, as Garifunas, we could return to slavery and also we have the risk of losing our communities. Although a lot of people don’t take that into account now it is something that could happen and that is why we are here supporting, and from my community there are a lot of people here making themselves present to support against the coup.

HR: Thank you Fanni, do you want to share some more words before we finish the interview?

FC: Well, to the world in general we want to tell you to stay in tune to everything, to us, to Honduras, that we are against the coup. We want the return of the President of the Republic, we want the Constitutional Assembly and OUT WITH THE COUP!


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