On Sept 21, President Manuel Zelaya returned to Honduras, taking refugein the Brazilian Embassy. The Honduran military, under the command ofthe de facto regime of Roberto Micheletti, immediately began to attackthe Embassy with tear gas and other chemicals. Violations ofinternational law have continued, including cutting off electricity,water and food, drawing recent condemnation by the U.N. Securitycouncil.
Even worse, the military has dramatically increased violence againstthe civilian population demonstrating in support of the legitimatepresident Zelaya (watch a video here ). Among other deaths, WendyElizabeth Avila was killed by tear gas intoxication during the violentdisplacement of protesters outside the Brazilian embassy on September22. International human rights groups have documented assassinations,torture and rape of regime opponents since the coup on June 28.
On September 26, coup leader Micheletti signed an executive order that suspends all Constitutional guarantees for 45 days, including freedom of the press and freedom to assemble. This decree prohibits meetings and demonstrations that do not have the permission of the military. Following the order, various independent radio and television stations have been shut down, in some cases violently.
Rather than denouncing the clear human rights violations by the Honduran military, the Obama administration had remained silent. As Mark Weisbrot, Director Center for Economic and Policy Research stated, "After 90 days and not one word from the Obama administration on the abuses in Honduras, it looks an awful lot like a tacit endorsement of the repression by the U.S. government.” (Read the press release from CEPR here or breaking news from the journalist Laura Carlsen of Americas Policy Program here).
Yesterday the State Department broke its silence, but not with the condemnation and swift action the Honduran people have been calling for.
Instead, officials from the U.S. State Department blamed Zelaya of for the violence being waged on the Honduran people. Lewis Amselem, interim U.S. representative to the Organization of American States (OAS) stated, “The return was irresponsible… Zelaya and those who facilitated his return are responsible for the actions of their followers.”
Please join individuals and organizations across the country in denouncing the State Department’s tacit endorsement of the coup regime! This is far from the “new” foreign policy that Obama promised; in fact it is a terrifying throw back to U.S.-supported coups in Latin American and the brutal military violence that has ensued (several top military officials in Honduras were trained by the United States at the School of the Americas).
1. Call the State Department comment line at 202-647-4000 or write President Barack Obama and urge the administration to:
A.) Call for a return of Zelaya to the presidency of Honduras and demand that the coup authorities, the army and the police respect the right to assembly and the human rights of the citizens of Honduras.
B.) Emphasize that any bloodshed and violence is the responsibility of the coup government and the security forces which they command.
2. Call the Congressional switchboard at 202-224-3121 and ask to speak to your Representative and Senators (or send an email to your Senators and Representative ) with the same message. Also encourage your Representatives to sign on to the Delahunt-Serrano-McGovern House Resolution 630 condemning the June 28 military coup in Honduras.