May 9, 2014 Tegucigalpa
Ruelas holds President Juan Orlando Hernández responsible for the attack he suffered and stated it was the result of public complaints expressed in various media in recent weeks related to the violent deaths of children and adolescents, which he described as extrajudicial executions.
The police arrested Ruelas in front of the Presidential Palace as he drove one of the organization’s vehicles. At that moment, a motorcycle crashed into the car. “Military police came and dragged me out of the car, beat and kicked me, dragged me to the Presidential Palace, and brought me to a police station (located in Colonia Kennedy). They made me take a breathalyzer test six times until they were satisfied, and what this shows is the inflexibility of a government that does not listen to criticism and that does not want to hear that it is wrong; so it has opted to beat me,” said the national director of Casa Alianza, Honduras.
Ruelas pointed out that what he suffered is nothing compared to what many children suffer in Honduras; he says what happened to him today is because of Juan Orlando Hernández. “Juan Orlando Hernández is the one who has permitted that I be taken out of my car by the police and the army, and allowed them to beat me. It was not delinquents; it was the police and the army who took me, and they can invent whatever story but you all see me now. They will invent whatever they want to say, but the police and the army of Juan Orlando Hernández have beaten me because I denounced the systematic campaign of murder of children in Honduras, and I will not be silent.”
“What they have done to me simply gives me more strength in knowing that I am in the right, and I want to ask of the president (Juan Orlando Hernández) that he see me today, that he realize that it is important to stop, that this cannot continue. I ask that he take responsibility and rethink his security policy because we cannot continue suffering,” said Ruelas.
Prior to the beating he received from the police and the military, Ruelas said he was properly identified when driving his car in front of the Presidential Palace after leaving an event he attended. When his car was stopped, “a motorcycle came and intentionally crashed into the car. I really don’t know what happened to the person driving it, because I saw that they lifted him or her up but while they were lifting them up, they grabbed me out of the truck and threw me to the ground, and grabbed and kicked me as you all can see. They took me to the sidewalk and continued beating me. Fortunately COFADEH came to help me, and some embassies also placed calls in order to support my cause.”
“Señor Juan Orlando Hernández enough, enough of this massacre against children in Honduras. You are solely responsible for the fact that the security policy is not working in this country. Enough, to so much death. Please stop and establish a genuine security policy for this country. This has nothing to do with numbers, this has to do with political will,” claimed the human rights defender.
When asked by journalist Marvin Ortíz of Radio Globo, in what sense the attack was related to allegations exposed to the media, Ruelas said, “I see no other reason, that is to say I’ve been reporting on behalf of Casa Alianza and all of the killing of children that is done is truly systematic and symptomatic. Because of this they stopped me in front of the Presidential House, and they beat me in front of the Presidential house, and they tortured me in front of the Presidential House to bring me here. That is to say, I truly hold Juan Orlando Hernández responsible for what happened to me today, for what happens to my family, and for what happens to any child in Honduras because he has done nothing to stem the tide of violence in this country, and I condemn this before the international community.
“Is that to say that you have suffered more than a beating, that this is an act of public torture?” asked journalist Félix Molina, to which Ruelas responded: “Exactly, I believe that it’s an act of shamelessness, of militarization, to neglect any human rights defender. I hold Mr. Juan Orlando Hernández responsible for any damage to my person, or to my family or to the institution that I represent. Juan Orlando Hernández is the one responsible for the deaths that are occurring in the country, there isn’t anyone else responsible.
“They insulted me and beat me, they grabbed and kicked me. I have the boot marks on my back. I have the boot marks on my torso, on my stomach, but more than this is needed to stop the voice of a Honduran who is indignant about what is happening in this country,” reported Ruelas, and then reiterated to Juan Orlando Hernández: “Mr. President, stop the deaths of boys and girls in Honduras, you are the only one responsible, if you can’t do it, please resign.”
The General Coordinator of the Committee of Family Members of Disappeared Detainees in Honduras (COFADEH), Bertha Oliva, after finding out about the situation, came to the aid of the human rights defender and witnessed the humiliation and torture suffered by José Guadalupe Ruelas at the hands of police and military forces.
Oliva also took preliminary notes of this new attack against a human rights defender, testimony that will be extended to the legal team in the Access to Justice department of COFADEH so they can start the appropriate proceedings before national courts.
English Translation: Erika Piquero/PROAH