Press President Obama to respond to human rights abuses in Honduras
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by Mark Weisbrot, Center for Economic and Policy Research
September 28, 2009
Washington, D.C. - The Honduran de facto regime suspended constitutional guarantees to civil liberties, including freedom of assembly and freedom of the press, for 45 days on the eve of mass protests planned to mark the three-month anniversary since the coup d'etat against President Manuel Zelaya took place. The regime has also shut down Radio Globo, a prominent independent media outlet that has covered anti-coup activities and that reportedly has a journalist inside the Brazilian embassy where Zelaya is staying, and TV station Channel 36.
"After 90 days and not one word from the Obama administration on the abuses in Honduras, it looks an awful lot like a tacit endorsement of the repression by the U.S. government," said Mark Weisbrot, Co-Director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research.
"Certainly the de facto regime must have gotten the idea that they have a blank check from the Obama administration for any crimes that they commit. That's one reason they're doing this."
The suspension of civil liberties would last at least until just a few weeks before the scheduled November 29 elections, and is likely to further call into question the elections' legitimacy.
The regime also issued an ultimatum to Brazil over the weekend, warning the Brazilian government that it has 10 days to decide what to do about Zelaya, and a regime spokesperson warned that since Brazil broke off diplomatic relations with the coup government, it could remove the flag and shield from the Brazilian embassy, making it a "private office." Brazilian President Lula da Silva rejected the threats, saying that his government "doesn't accept ultimatums from coup-plotters."
In the three months since President Manuel Zelaya was overthrown, the coup regime has committed numerous human right abuses, including thousands of arrests and detentions, beatings, and the closing down of independent media. This has been documented, reported, and denounced by major human rights organizations throughout the world: Amnesty International, the Center for Justice and International Law, Human Rights Watch, the Inter American Commission on Human Rights and others. Some opponents of the regime have also been killed, tortured, and raped, and Honduran human rights groups have accused the government of responsibility for these crimes.
The Obama administration has not commented on any of these crimes or human rights violations.
Also, on Friday, the UN Security Council passed a resolution that "condemned acts of intimidation against the Brazilian Embassy and called upon the de facto government of Honduras to cease harassing the Brazilian Embassy and to provide all necessary utilities and services including water, electricity, food and continuity of communications. Respect and protection of the inviolability of diplomatic premises is a universally accepted principle of international relations," according to U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice.
This was in response to the Honduran regime's violations of international law in its attacks on the Brazilian embassy with tear gas and other chemicals, cutting off food, water, and electricity, and other abuses.
The U.S. government has not criticized the de facto regime for its violations of international law with respect to the Brazilian embassy.
To contact President Obama, copy and paste and edit the letter below into the body of this White House web form.
Dear President Obama,
The time has come to pressure Honduran Coup leaders on their human rights abuses.
Members of Congress including Representatives Raul Grijalva, Jim McGovern, John Conyers, Jose Serrano, Chaka Fattah, Mike Honda, Barbara Lee, Jesse Jackson, Jim Oberstar, Dennis Kucinich, Bill Delahunt, Jan Schakowsky, Donna Christensen, Sheila Jackson Lee, Sam Farr, and Linda Sanchez - have urged you to freeze U.S. assets and suspend U.S. visas of coup leaders in Honduras. Suspension of their visas on Septemer 12 was a good first step, but now that Zalaya is at the Brazilian Embassy, more action is needed to protect the lives of Honduran citizens.
You have the power to force Mr. Micheletti to consider Mr. Arias's proposal. You can end this illegal government oppression of peaceful citizens demonstrating their concern about the suspension of the democratic process in Honduras.
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