Honduras: Xiomara Castro de Zelaya calls for continued protest; rights abuses documented

Xiomara Castro de Zelaya, the wife of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya, called Aug. 20 on followers to continue marching in support of her husband. “We will manage to defeat them, let’s keep marching,” she told local broadcaster Radio Globe. “We are very clear that history is allowing us to change our nation. We are fighting for real change that comes from the base of the people.” (Xinhua, Aug. 21)

That same day, the group Feministas de Honduras en Resistencia said it has documented 19 instances of rape by police officers since the June 28 coup that ousted President Zelaya. There have been many more cases of rape, but the women have not reported them out of fear of reprisals, Gilda Rivera, the executive coordinator of the Honduran Center for Women’s Rights and head of Feministas, told the Spanish news agency EFE.

The activists say that women taking part in the resistance to the coup are being targeted. “We’ve obtained testimonials from women who’ve been sexually abused, beaten with cudgels on different parts of their bodies, especially the breasts and buttocks,” says the report, presented at a press conference in Tegucigalpa. Others have been verbally attacked in a systematic way with phrases like “Whores, go home,” Rivera added. She also said that some women who have been threatened “have had to hide and live apart from their children and families to protect their children and avoid raids at their homes.” The charges from the Feministas coalition come as a delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is visiting Honduras to appraise the state of human rights since the army ousted Zelaya. (EFE, Aug. 21)

Also that day, Amnesty International issued a report finding that in the seven weeks since the coup, several hundred people protesting against the de facto government have been arbitrarily arrested and beaten by security forces. The report includes testimony from and photographs of several people who were beaten and detained by police—who sometimes wore no visible identification and hid their faces behind bandanas as they broke up demonstrations.

“They beat us if we raised our heads; they beat us when they were getting us into the police cars,” said a student interviewed by Amnesty in late July at the police station where he was being detained. “They said, ‘Cry and we’ll stop.'”

Multiple requests by CNN to the de facto government for comment went unanswered. The de facto authorities have in the past said demonstrators were arrested for engaging in violence and provoking the police. (CNN, Amnesty International, Aug. 19)

See our last post on Honduras.

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  1. Honduran coup regime in diplomatic tiff with Argentina
    The Honduran interim government on Aug. 18 ordered Argentine diplomats to leave the country in three days, sending a defiant message before a visit by six foreign ministers who are seeking the restoration of the ousted President Zelaya. The Foreign Ministry said the diplomats were ordered to leave in response to Argentina’s decision to expel the Honduran ambassador, who has recognized the government of the de facto president, Roberto Micheletti. Argentina is among six countries planning to send foreign ministers to Honduras in a bid to revive negotiations. It was the second time that the interim government had ordered the expulsion of foreign diplomats since Zelaya was ousted in a June 28 coup. Venezuela’s envoys have also been told to leave but have refused, saying they would not recognize an order by the de facto government. (AP, Aug. 18)