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Reports of Murders in Honduras

Journalists and activists targeted by state security forces

by School of the Americas Watch—Latin American Office

Reports of Murders in Honduras

Murder reports are being received by human rights organizations, such as COFADEH (Honduran Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared). The majority of these reports have arrived from the northern part of Honduras. The people killed thus far have been left with all of their clothes, money, and cell phones, a clear signal that gangs and robbers are not responsible for the murders, but rather it is a product of political violence.

News reporters and stations who are reporting on the coup or human rights abuses are being shut down, and the reporters have been threatened with violence, with at least one death reported. The signal of the independent radio station, Libertad, in Marcala, La Paz, has been cut. On Friday, journalist Gabriel Fino Noriega, who was reporting on the coup and military developments, was killed. He was last seen alive leaving Radio América after transmitting his latest report. Radio América is a well established Honduran news corporation which gets international coverage.

In a town in San Pedro Sula, a family of four was found assassinated. It is known that the mother of that family worked in her local court.

In Tegucigalpa, the nation’s capital, at least 5 corpses have been found. Two corpses were found yesterday in barrels. Another corpse, of a young man, was found in La Montañita. La Montañita was the first unmarked, clandestine cemetery established in Honduras in the 1980’s
by the national army’s death squads, which were trained by the CIA and other U.S. military officers. It was established under the command of former chief commander of Honduran armed forces, Gustabo Álvarez Martínez. This unmarked cemetery, along with many others throughout the country, was used by the military’s death squads to depose of the bodies of students, activists, missionaries, political organizers, and others whom they detained, kidnapped, tortured, and murdered in the 1980s. It is once again being used, presumably by the armed forces of Honduras.

Bertha Oliva, a key human rights activist, asserts that military repression has been much more violent and unsupervised outside of the capital, where there is almost no international presence or press coverage. With the recent events of murder and repression within Tegucigalpa, human rights organizations are increasingly worried of what must be going on outside of the capital.

On Friday, president de facto Micheletti publicly renounced the demands of Organization of American States (OAS) Secretary-General Insulza, who traveled to Honduras to inform the coup government that they must reinstate President Zelaya. The coup government has withdrawn from the OAS. This is a huge blow to human rights organizations and advocates within Honduras, because the Honduran government is no longer bound to inter-American human rights law. Although human rights organizations, like COFADEH, have been active in documenting and reporting human rights abuses, Honduras’s forensic authorities have impeded the identification of those who have been killed.

The director of forensic science in Honduras, Amílcar Rodas, is the brother of former military General Gustavo Àlvarez Martìnez, who was the chief of the Honduran forces from 1982-84 whose tenure as chief saw the increased number of disappeared political dissidents. Amílcar Rodas was appointed to his position as Director of Forensic Science on June 8th by the Attorney General of Honduras, Luis Rubí, who has been an active protagonist in the coup transition over the last week.

Pro-democracy, pro-Zelaya organizers are meeting again today, Saturday, to plan today’s actions and the following steps of the resistance movement in Honduras. They will be joined tomorrow, on Sunday, by a small delegation from the School of the Americas Watch. Latin American coordinator Lisa Sullivan and Fr. Joe Mulligan will be traveling to Honduras on Sunday to be in Honduras for the arrival of President Manuel Zelaya.

4 July, 2009 9:30am
Barquisimeto, Venezuela

[Photograph of demonstration in Tegucigalpa, July 4th by Sandra Cuffe]

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