Report from the international mission for solidarity, accompaniment, and observation in Honduras

29 July 2009
Article
An international mission for solidarity, accompaniment, and  observation in Honduras arrived in Tegucigalpa on Monday 27th  July and reports that "heavy censorship, suspension of the freedom of movement and gathering and the lack of credibility of the information provided by the de facto government and authorities controlled by it contribute to creating a situation of tension and fear."

An international mission for solidarity, accompaniment, and  observation in Honduras has arrived in Tegucigalpa on Monday 27th  July. On Monday, July 28th the mission was received by several local human  rights organizations. (See list at the end.) It also witnessed two  demonstrations organized by the supporters of the Zelaya government On Tuesday, July 29th the delegation took part in a press-conference  organized by the Committee for relatives of disappeared detained  people in Honduras (el Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos  en Honduras COFADEH), announcing the mission and reporting about the  first observations of the mission. (See the press release enclosed –  in Spanish only.) On the same day the mission accompanied two Hondurian human rights  organization in a a fact-finding mission to the border area of  El  Paraiso, next to Nicaragua, with the camp of president Zelaya nearby  on the Nicaraguan side. “Life in the capital of Tegucigalpa may seem normal to an outside  visitor at first sight,” says Tom Kucharz, a Spanish delegate of the  mission. “At night here is however, curfew in the entire country, as  declared by the illegitimate president installed after the coup  d’etat, Roberti Micheletti. Heavy censorship, suspension of the  freedom of movement and gathering and the lack of credibility of the  information provided by the de facto government and authorities  controlled by it contribute to creating a situation of tension and  fear. There are two verified victims of politically related violence  and there is also a greatly heightened rate of murders in the capital  city of Tegucigalpa as reported by police sources and Human Rights  organizations. Rumors about mass detentions and violent oppression  prevail.” The convoy yesterday was allowed to pass through all way to the  border, contrary to what was the case when CODAFEH attempted two  earlier fact-finding missions since last Friday when the border was  first closed. Between Tegucigalpa and the border, a distance of a  little more than a 100 kilometers, there were 8 check-points, some of  which controlled by civilian police, some by the army and some by both  forces. “We saw hundreds of heavily armed police and soldiers. The whole area  is very heavily militarized. The area between the last civilian  check-point and the border is de facto in a state of emergency  controlled completely by the army,” says the Finnish member of the  mission, Thomas Wallgren. “The situation at the border seems to have changed decisively during  the last days. On Friday 24th, when it was reported that Zelaya was  trying to enter the country, and during the first days after that, we  have several reports according to which crowds of people from various  parts of the country who support Zelaya headed to the border in what  seemed to be a spontaneous political movement with little coordination. Yesterday, our mission met a group of 38 persons from an indigenous  group that was referred to as “lencas”, who were on their way back  from the border area. The group, traveling in a hired truck, had been  stopped by an army check-point in El Paraiso and refused further  passage. They had decided to try to reach Nicaragua by crossing by  foot over the mountains. At the night of the 27th to the 28th they  were, as they reported to us, encircled by armed forces, captured and  given the choice between being detained in El Paraiso and returning  home. Overall, our conclusion is that the army has by now been  successful in its effort to prevent any movement of supporters of  Zelay to the border or in the border area,” says Wallgren. “What we see is a lot of psychological pressure, organized to  demoralize and demobilize the supporters of the legitimate government.  This appears to be a dictatorship with a civilian face” says Nora  Cortiña, the Argentinian leader of the mission. Yesterday, when the mission stopped at the last civilian check-point  in El Paraiso, it was invited to meet with Xiomara Castro de Zelaya  who camps at the local district office there with her family, and  supporters. The first lady of the country, Xiomara Castro, has been  presented an offer by the military officers in charge there to  continue to the border, but only without her supporters. In a short  personal meeting in her temporary office, Xiomara informed us that she  has firmly rejected the offer. She says she will go only of all  citizens that want to go with her are granted there constitutional  right to travel freely in their own country. Tegucigalpa, 29th July 2009 Phones in Honduras:  +504 - 898 52 607 / +504 – 964 23 566 / +504 – 965 93 265 / +504 965 91 621 e-mail: Tom Kucharz: agroecologia@ecologistasenaccion.org,  thomas.wallgren@helsinki.fi Organisations that the mission has visited so far include: El Comité para la Defensa de los Derechos Humanos en Honduras (CODEH) El Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras COFADEH El Centro de Prevención, Tratamiento y Rehabilitación de las Víctimas de la Tortura y sus Familiares (CPTRT), FIAN-Internacional, La Coalición Hondureña de Acción Ciudadana (CHAAC), and Sindicato de Trabajadores de Bebidas y Similares (STIBYS) MEMBERS OF THE MISSION: - Nora Cortiñas, Madres de Plaza de Mayo – Linea Fundadora / Jubileo Sur (Argentina) - Thomas Wallgren, Head, Department of Philosophy, University of Helsinki, Finland, member of the City Council in Helsinki (socialdemocrats) / Finnish Refugee Council - Mauricio Valiente, Spanish commission for refugee aid (Comisión Española de Ayuda al Refugiado-CEAR Efrén Reyes del Servicio Internacional Cristiano de Solidaridad con los Pueblos de América Latina - Oscar Romero -SICSAL (El Salvador) - Tom Kucharz, Ecologistas en Acción (España). More participants from several countries are expected to arrive on the 29th of July. The mission has been organized by Enlazando Alternativas – Red Biregional Europa Latina y el Caribe