[News] The One-Sided War on the Streets of Honduras
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Sep 23 12:25:17 EDT 2009
The One-Sided War on the Streets of Honduras
Theyre the Only Ones Using Violence, Human
Rights Leader Bertha Oliva Observes of the Coup
Regime on Day Two of Zelayas Return
By Jeremy Kryt
Special to The Narco News Bulletin
September 23, 2009
TEGUCIGALPA, HONDURAS, SEPTEMBER 22, 2009:
Government forces attacked a peaceful crowd
outside the Brazilian Embassy Tuesday morning, in
an apparent attempt to dispel support for deposed
President Mel Zelaya. Mr. Zelaya had returned to
the country on Monday after almost three months in exile.
It was terrible repression, said National
Congressman Marvin Ponce, who was with Zelaya in
the Embassy until around nine oclock the night
before. This is a reflection of their
philosophies, this government of putchists. They
dont respect human rights. They dont want a
political dialogue, said Ponce, and he ought to
know: The Congressman was himself assaulted
during a nonviolent protest last month, suffering
several broken bones, including his right arm,
which was fractured in three places.
Eye-witness testimony indicated that the soldiers
and police fired tear gas, rubber bullets, and live rounds into the crowd.
It was brutal, said resistance organizer Juan
Barahona, director of El Bloque Popular. I was
outside the embassy when the police began their
dispersal. Afterwards we reorganized, and marched
through some of the poor barrios. But the police attacked us there as well.
The day before, thousands had gathered in front
of the Brazilian Consulate in the Colonia
Palmira, to welcome home Mr. Zelaya with chanting
and songs. The de facto government imposed a
curfew starting at four p.m., and cut power to
the Embassy; but Zelayas supporters stayed on in
the streets all night long, defying orders to disperse.
This reporter spent most of Monday inside the
embassy with Mr. Zelaya. The ousted President
addressed the thousands gathered outside, urging
them to pursue a nonviolent resistance to Los Golpistas.
We will continue the struggle for democracy,
said Zelaya, as the crowd voiced their desire for
a new constitution. This time I wont be caught
napping, joked Zelaya, referring to the episode
on June 28, when the military accosted him in his pajamas.
Later, when the lights were cut, there were fears
the authorities might storm the gates at any
moment, and side arms were handed out to security
guards. The lights soon returned courtesy of the
compounds generator (and gas supplied by La
Resistencia). The expected attack didnt come
until dawn, when police launched tear gas shells
into the courtyard, and forcibly occupied neighboring buildings.
These bullies can enter my home, and do anything
they please, said one disconcerted neighbor,
lugging her valuables away from the scene. Just
because I live next to the Brazillian Embassy, they treat me like a criminal.
Apparently, the bullies could do as they
pleased throughout the capital on Tuesday. To
mention just one example: The offices of the
Committee for Detained and Disappeared Persons of
Honduras (COFADEH) were attacked without
provocation, when police fired tear gas canisters at the building.
They want us to give up our investigations,
said COFADEH Director Bertha Oliva, because
theyre scared of the evidence we have against them.
I arrived at COFADEH about ten minutes after the
attack, and people were still weeping from the
gas. But bullets and bombs will not dissuade
us, Oliva said. [We] refuse to be intimidated.
Later that day, Oliva told me that COFADEH alone
had documented 36 injured people on Tuesday, many
bearing severe welts and scalp lacerations from
police batons. She also reported at least two
deaths. Congressman Ponce believes put the total
number of wounded at 172. Independent reports
indicated about 350 people were also arrested and
detained in the Villa Olympica soccer stadium.
The official police tally, however, told quite a
different story. According to their numbers,
there were only 23 arrests, 10 injuries and zero
fatalities. Law enforcement officials also made
clear their intentions for Zelaya.
The minute he steps outside the building, he
goes to jail, said Colonel Samuel Mengiver of
Police Intelligence. And if Zelaya doesnt come
out of his own volition? Were ready to take him
out of there by force, said the Colonel. Were just waiting for the order.
One did not have to go far to see evidence of the
tactics being employed by the authorities.
Leaving the hotel this morning on my way to the
Brazilian Embassy, I encountered several young
men fleeing a squadron of baton-wielding police.
As I watched, the officers caught up to two of
them and commenced beating them viciously, even
after they had fallen to the ground.
We were just walking to work, said Aron
Antonio, bleeding profusely from multiple head
wounds. I cant understand why they attacked
us. I called an ambulance on my cell phone, but
by the time it had arrived, Antonios companion
had lost consciousness. The youths eyes refused
to dilate, and he began to vomit where he lay in the gutter.
The people cant even walk the streets in
peace, Bertha Oliva told me. Theyre being
beaten just for stepping out of doors. [The
police] hunt them as if for sport. What kind of a country has this become?
By the time I reached the Embassy, the crowds had
been dispersed, and masked police and soldiers
had cordoned off the street, forbidding even
international journalists and human rights
workers from approaching. A few hours later, a
pick-up truck with massive speakers was wheeled
in, to direct constant loud music toward the building.
I spoke by phone with Father Andres Tamayo
Catholic priest, and leading figure in the
anti-coup movement who was trapped with Zelaya
inside the Embassy. There are police in front of
the building, and all of the surrounding houses.
The government is also listening in, and blocking
our calls, he said, just before the line went dead.
Late Tuesday afternoon, 85 people were allowed to
leave the Embassy. About 70 more including
Zelayas wife and young grandchildren remain
inside. Meanwhile, the resistance movement shows no signs of slowing down.
We will be in the streets again tomorrow, said
Juan Barahona. We will not give up until Mel
Zelaya returns to the presidency.
When asked what he thought would be the likely
response from the authorities, Barahona conceded
it might well be more of the same. The police
will not tolerate us. Theyll probably attack us
again. But what else can we do? This remains an unequal struggle.
Shortly after being turned away by police, while
seeking to bring food and water to those in the
Brazilian Embassy, Bertha Oliva echoed Mr. Barahonas sentiments.
This is a one-sided war, she said, nodding
towards the masked officers. Theyre the only ones committing violence.
522 Valencia Street
San Francisco, CA 94110
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the News