Executive Summary of COFADEH report on Human Rights Abuses

“Statistics and Faces of the Repression”
Violations of Human Rights in the framework of the coup d’état in Honduras.
Tegucigalpa, Honduras – October 22, 2009

I am a veteran human rights defender. As I prepared this second human rights report since the coup in Honduras, I have felt profound distress. Perhaps because I had begun to think that during the long process of the last decades, we had made some small advances in the area of human rights.
Perhaps it is because I look to the past in order to see the future, and to evaluate and to value the present – – that today, over 100 days since the fateful coup on June 28th, I realize that something has shaken the Committee of Families of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras, COFADEH to the core, and nothing is the same. Immediately after the coup we knew that we had regressed 25 – 30 years, maybe more.

As the impact of the blow set in, we realized that we are now in the midst of a modern Military Coup d’état in the 21st Century.

Unfortunately, we are well versed in the effects of military dictators and we understood that what we were witnessing was not an isolated act but an entire strategy to seize and hold power for the long term; in other words, the dictatorship intends to stay in the Region.

We realized that if such an offense could be committed against the person who holds the highest office in the country, what would happen to the rest of the population. We began to prepare ourselves. The military dictatorship wasted no time. Today, just as in the past, we are the depository for tears, anguish, pain and hopelessness.

The military dictatorship that we live under today is very similar to that of the decade of the 1980s, however, there is an important difference. During the 1980s, those who repressed the people hid their faces and their names. Today, those who repress the people have names, faces and uniforms: “blue-green – olive and white.”

In our second human rights report we have focused our concerns on the actions that the X Battalion, based in Marcala – La Paz, has carried out against members of the Resistance against the Military Coup throughout the zone, including the region of Colomoncagua. Similar levels of persecution are also being suffered by people in the Department of Santa Barbara on the part of authorities of the de facto regime in this Department.

Another of our primary concerns is the strategy employed by the military dictatorship against teachers in the country which includes illegal and arbitrary retention of salaries, profiling, legal suits brought against them by the Public Ministry, persecution, illegal detentions and even assassination.

With indignation and pain we must condemn and repudiate the persecution unleashed on the youth of our country. To some we have had to say, “until we meet again in another country” in order to prevent them becoming victims of kidnapping, torture and assassination…And to other young people we have said, “goodbye, we will meet again in the next world.”

This second report documents an accelerated Deterioration of Human Rights in the context of the coup d’état:

• Between June 28th and October 10, 2009, COFADEH has registered over 4000 violations of human rights. The most grievous include 108 violations of the right to life, including 21 assassinations and violent deaths.

• The coup regime is consolidating with the goal of remaining in government beyond the defacto government. This process relies on the use of excessive force on the part of military and police, control of the media and closure of media outlets that are not allies of the regime, use of paramilitaries to intimidate, threaten and kidnap those opposed to the coup, and the emission of illegal decrees that suspend the exercise of fundamental rights.

• It is clear that a repressive apparatus is being mounted to intimidate and annihilate resistance to the coup. In the 115 days since the coup, thousands of human rights violations have been registered that reflect the evolution of state violence and the rupture of institutionality.

As of June 29th, COFADEH began to register violations of human rights directly related to peaceful demonstrations on the part of the population. This violence has taken different forms and patterns: generalized violence, violence targeting particular sectors, and selective violence targeting journalists and leaders of the resistance. In addition, judicial intimidation is being used as a tool to demobilize the opposition.
Based on proof and documentation in our possession, we affirm to the world that we are living a situation of NATIONAL EMERGENCY in Honduras. We appeal to the International Community to stay vigilant and observant in order to assume the challenge of bringing those who perpetrate crimes against humanity to justice.

Bertha Oliva de Nativi
General Coordinator, COFADEH