|English | Español||February 20, 2018 | Issue #62|
Honduras to Have “Free and Fair” Elections with Disrespect for Human Rights
Sunday’s Vote to Take Place Under a Cloud of Intimidation, Torture, Illegal Detentions and in Extreme Cases, Assassinations
By Tamar Sharabi
Oscar Flores holding a sign, tallying the number of days since the coup d’état and the number of days Zelaya has been held prisoner in the Brazilian Embassy.
One of those people is Oscar Flores. A 54 year old man from San Pedro Sula, he has designated himself to remind the resistance movement how many days they have overcome. He arrives at every activity holding a sign, tallying the number of days since the coup d’état and the number of days Zelaya has been held prisoner in the Brazilian Embassy.
On Tuesday November 24 after approximately 60 candidates officially withdrew from the elections from the Supreme Tribunal Electoral (TSE), Oscar left on his way to the central park. When he got off the bus, a police patrol car (with both the soldiers and police) ordered him into the back of a pick up truck. They questioned his participation and if he was a leader of the resistance movement. Oscar actually holds no ‘official’ position aside from providing the moral support his constant presence bears. Arriving at a gas station in Comayaguela minutes away, Oscar was able to convince the police to let him use the restroom. A veteran from the military from 1973-1977, Oscar then escaped and was even able to retrieve his sign. Even though he fell running and is now limping on a bruised knee, he was still standing proud with the resistance front outside Congress the very next day.
Clearly, many people visibly in support of the constitutional return to power of President Zelaya are not as lucky to outrun the police, especially when the security forces are not identified or when they do house visits to targeted leaders of the resistance.
On November 8, Elvis Tejada was visited by armed men that forcefully entered his home through the roof. Putting a shot into this bed, they threatened; “We are going to kill you.” While the neighbors called the police, Elvis was being tortured for 25 minutes in his own room, with his wife and son victims themselves in the living room. Even though Elvis has submitted complaints with human rights organizations and the District Attorney’s office, he has no faith in seeing justice in the same government that he holds responsible.
For the less fortunate people who are not living to tell their story, family members must bear the grunt of speaking out. Less than one week to the elections, on November 23 Gradis Espinal, a retired teacher and a leader of the resistance movement from Nacaome, Valle, was found dead in the outskirts of Tegucigalpa. Gradis was on his way to the capital with a friend when an ‘irregular operation’ pulled him over. The newspaper El Tiempo, was the only print media that recognized he was a leader of the resistance movement.
The free speech necessary to guarantee free elections is not the message being transmitted to the resistance front. Intimidation, torture, illegal detentions and in extreme cases assassinations are being carried out to prevent mass mobilizations on Election Day. The National Front Against the Coup D’état has encouraged all week a ‘popular curfew’ on Election Day to prevent clashes with the opposition. The Center for the Investigation and Promotion of Human Rights in Honduras (CIPRODEH), has documented aggression directly from the police and the military towards nearly all human rights groups working in Honduras. If their personal safety cannot be guaranteed, the atmosphere for the rest of the population is only further jeopardized.
Today, a platform of Human Rights groups will echo their concern and submit a request to the Supreme Tribunal Electoral (TSE) to suspend elections. In addition to CIPRODEH, groups included are the Center for Women Rights (CDM), The Committee of Relatives of Detained and Disappeared Persons in Honduras (COFADEH), the Center for Prevention, Treatment & Rehabilitation of Tortured Victims (CPTRT), The International Center for Justice and Rights (CEJIL) and Food First Information and Action Network (FIAN).
- The Fund for Authentic Journalism