It has been almost two years since Amnesty International launched its report on attacks against human rights in the Americas, Transforming Pain into Hope. Many of the cases it documented took place in Honduras, often against campesino (rural) leaders. Unfortunately, human rights abusers continue to target rural activists. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
Amnesty International welcomes the positive step of President Obama’s recent meeting with his counterparts from Honduras, El Salvador, and Guatemala regarding the increasing number of children fleeing violence in those countries – with or without their parents.
It is extremely troubling, however, that President Obama continues to assert that his government will return the overwhelming majority of these children to the extreme violence that has driven them to make the dangerous journey to the United States. SEE THE REST OF THIS POST
President Obama has responded to the recent surge in unaccompanied minors crossing the Mexican border with a $1 million ad campaign aimed at Central Americans.
The U.S. government wants to send two main messages – the journey to the U.S. is extremely dangerous, and those caught, including children, will be deported.
“We are…troubled by news reports that the police had announced the murder was carried out by someone close to Sr. Mejia Orellana before any investigation had yet begun.”
-Statement by U.S. Representatives James McGovern (MA), Sam Farr (CA), and Janice Schakowsky (IL)
On April 11, unidentified assailants stabbed Carlos Mejía to death in his home in Yoro, Honduras. Mejía was the marketing director of Radio Progreso and a member of the Reflection, Investigation and Communication Team (Equipo de Reflexión, Investigación y Comunicación, ERIC). Both Radio Progeso and ERIC are Jesuit organizations known for their work defending human rights in Honduras.
The first step to ending impunity is a thorough investigation that correctly identifies the culprits so that they can be tried and punished. Why, then, did Honduran police announce that they had decided to pursue a narrow investigation focusing on “someone close to Sr. Mejia?”
Back in December, Amnesty activists responded to an Urgent Action on the murder of Honduran journalist Juan Carlos Argeña. Not only has there not been any progress in this case, Amnesty has had to issue a new Urgent Action on behalf of Mario Argeñal, Juan Carlos’ brother.
Unidentified men have threatened and intimidated Mario in response to his public statements about the killing of his brother and his calls for justice in the case.
Ian Lekus of Amnesty USA’s LGBT Human Rights Cogroup contributed to this post.
San Pedro Sula, Honduras, has been called “the most dangerous city in the world.” For sex workers in the city, the risk of violence is multiplied many times over.
Despite the fact that sex work is legal in Honduras, many groups and individuals view their actions as immoral. Those who murder sex workers believe they can literally treat these human beings as garbage to be disposed of. Such violence takes place against the broader backdrop of widespread gender- and sexuality-based violence that imperils women and LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender) persons all through Honduras.
“This killing is not just a crime against a an individual but also against the society as a whole. Every country should enjoy a free press in which journalists and media owners are allowed to exercise independence in collecting and reporting news without fearing for violent reprisals.”
- Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
Last month, I posted a blog entry asking if the November 25 elections in Honduras would be a victory for human rights. Unfortunately, my question was violently answered on December 7, when two unidentified gunmen murdered journalist Juan Carlos Argeñal. In addition to owning a local television station, Argeñal was a correspondent for Radio Globo and Globo TV.
By Stacy Suh, Member Women’s Rights Coordination Group
As I write, the outcome of the November 24 presidential elections in Honduras is still being contested. There were eight candidates to the presidency, out of which two have been expressing concerns on the official results provided by the Electoral Tribunal and respective complains have been filed. Regardless of the eventual outcome of these legal challenges, Amnesty International is still calling upon the next president to commit to protecting human rights, as outlined in an open letter to all candidates.
By Tarah Demant, Co-Chair of Amnesty International USA Women’s Rights Co-Group
A life free from violence is a fundamental human right, yet daily, women and girls are targeted specifically because of their sex or gender, and violence in communities often affects women disproportionately. Violence against women is a global epidemic; no country or community is immune.
Violence against women is used as a tool of discrimination, control, and intimidation, and it restricts women’s choices and increases their vulnerability to further injustices. 1 in 3 women will be raped, beaten, or abused in her lifetime, yet violence against women affects us all. Consider the following cases:
- In Sudan, women can be can be stopped by the police, arrested, jailed, and even sentenced to public flogging for nothing more than wearing pants or leaving her hair uncovered.
- In Egypt, women protesters have faced harassment and assault while Egypt’s political leaders have remained silence about the rampant sexual violence and discrimination.
- In Syria, more than 2 million people have fled the armed crisis, and now tens of thousands of women and girl refugees in Jordan risk further violence simply because they have no safe access to a toilet.
- In the Democratic Republic of Congo, often ranked the worst place in the world to be a woman, women human rights defenders provide grassroots assistance to civilians, yet they themselves face intimidation, attack, rape, and sexual violence for their efforts.
- In Bangladesh, women human rights defenders work for the rights of indigenous people throughout the country, yet 17 years after the disappearance of a high-profile Pahari activist, her family and community still waits for justice.
- In Honduras, women human rights defenders are threatened with sexual violence for championing human rights throughout the country.
- In Mexico, Miriam López Vargas and hundreds of other women wait for justice after torture and rape by Mexican soldiers.
What these cases have in common is a global culture of discrimination and violence against women as well as impunity for those who commit gender-based violence. And this year’s theme: From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Let’s Challenge Militarism and End Violence Against Women highlights the relationship between heightened militarism and communal and interpersonal violence.
Despite a culture of violence and discrimination women around the world are raising their voices against violence and discrimination, demanding their basic human rights, and standing against intimidation and fear. Today, what unites women internationally is their vulnerability to the denial and violation of their fundamental human rights, and their dedicated efforts to claim those rights.
You can join them this 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence as we join activists worldwide from Nov. 25 – Dec. 10 to help end violence against women. This year, we’re highlighting the seven cases above – in each instance, you can learn more, take action, and stand with women demanding their rights!
Imagine a world without violence against women. Join us this 16 Days to make that vision a reality.
“The human rights situation in Honduras seems to deteriorate every day. It looks like no one is safe from the widespread violence and insecurity. Those defending human rights are particularly exposed to abuses and attacks.”
-Guadalupe Marengo, Amnesty International’s Americas Deputy Program Director.
On Sunday, November 24, Hondurans will vote for their next president. Amnesty International recognizes this as an historic opportunity to improve human rights in the Central American nation. AI has sent an open letter to all of the candidates outlining specific actions that the next president must take in the areas of
- Human Rights Defenders
- Public Security
- Individuals & Communities at Risk (Indigenous, Garífuna, Campesinos, Women, & LGBTI)
Amnesty is very concerned about the safety of human rights defenders and journalists during and immediately after the elections. Please send a message to President Lobo that he must guarantee the protection of these individuals before, during, and after Sunday’s elections. We suggest you also send President the following tweets in English and Spanish:
- .@PEPE_LOBO Will you publicly commit to zero tolerance of attacks against #humanrights defenders & journalists during #Honduras elections?
- .@PEPE_LOBO ¿Se comprometerá a cero tolerancia de ataques contra periodistas y defensoras/es de #DDHH durante #EleccionesHonduras?
Please also tweet the presidential candidates to tell them to protect human rights:
- .@andrespavon_ @VilledaMauricio Will you commit to protect #humanrights defenders & journalists? #EleccionesHonduras
- .@JuanOrlandoH @XiomaraCastroZ Will you commit to protect #humanrights defenders & journalists? #EleccionesHonduras
- .@SalvadorNasrala @RomeoVasquezV @OrleSols @Pinusd_HN Will you commit to protect #humanrights defenders and journalists? #EleccionesHonduras