October 13th- Last night Augstina Flores Lopez was released on bond after having spent 21 days in jail. The day that President Zelaya returned to Honduras, Augstina joined a multitude of people from her community of La Esperanza and headed to Tegucigalpa to see the President. The following morning, the police attacked the crowd with tear gas, water cannons and their long clubs. Augstina was sitting on a curb when the police came up and began beating her with their clubs in her face and on her back. They eventually arrested her and charged her with criminal destruction of property and sedition.
Since September 22nd she has been in jail, and the judge finally allowed her to be conditionally released after posting a $5,200.00 bond. The bond was posted by her teachers union. They have put extraordinary conditions on her release, as if she were a dangerous criminal. The has been a teacher for 32 years, was named “Teacher of the Year” in her community, and has been involved for many years in exemplary programs, such as drug prevention programs, non-violence trainings and workshops with the gang Salvatrucha.
The charge of criminal destruction of property was finally dropped because there was absolutely no proof to support this charge. The charge of sedition is equally ludicrous, given that her only crime was to be outside when a curfew was in place. There are about 84 political prisoners right now just in Tegucigalpa, and thousands of people all over the country have been brutally beaten. The only national media which have been broadcasting the reality of what is happening have been shut down, so the coup government’s ‘Operation Silence’ is proving to be exceedingly effective.
The last two days I have spent in the Human Rights office COFADEH, where they are working feverishly to finish a report outlining the most serious violations, but their work is permanently interrupted by a non-stop stream of people who are coming to make more denouncements of violations of their rights. Yesterday afternoon a young woman came in with a broken arm. She had been walking down a street when a car pulled up next to her; they rolled down the window, grabbed her arm, and put a gun to her neck, threatening to kill her and demanding that she get in the car with them. Since she was in a fairly public place, she struggled and managed to escape, but her arm was broken in the struggle. They had identified her as being involved with a student movement against the coup, and would have likely killed her had they succeeded in kidnapping her.
Reports like these are coming in to the COFADEH office every day, and it seems that the level of repression continues to grow, and be more focused, even while there are supposed to be ongoing negotiations about the return of President Zelaya. This morning a young boy of about 10 is here in the office. He was just released from the hospital, having suffered a gunshot wound to his stomach on September 23rd. He had been walking with his father in his neighborhood and the police entered and just began firing their weapons randomly. He had been several days in a state of coma, and although he has managed survive, he is still in severe pain, and it is hard to tell what internal damage he has.
If you add to this the permanent psychological warfare being conducted against the people who are in the Brazilian Embassy with President Zelaya, there are certainly not conditions in the country to be conducting negotiations. In any case if an agreement to return President Zelaya is not reached by this Thursday, October 15th, President Zelaya will withdraw from the negotiations. It seems absurd to be negotiating anything under these conditions, and seems even more unlikely that the coup government will ever agree to let President Zelaya return given their relentless brutal behavior.