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94 House Members and 7 Senators Sign Letters Concerning Human Rights Abuses in Honduras

94 House Members and 7 Senators Sign Letters Concerning Human Rights Abuses in Honduras

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday March 13, 2012

Contact: Gary Cozette 773.350.3518 cozettelada@ameritech.net.

Dana Frank 831.600.5525 or danafrank@ucsc.edu

Washington DC - A letter addressed to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was released Monday by Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) signed by 94 members of the House of Representatives concerning the deteriorating human rights situation in Honduras.

Just one week ago a similar letter came from the Senate sponsored by Senator Mikulski (MD) and signed by 6 fellow senators. Senator Mikulski’s Letter details that over 300 people have been killed including 18 journalists who have been murdered in politically related killings in Honduras since the 2009 coup d’etat.

Both letters address the critical situation in Honduras’ rich agricultural region called the Bajo Aguan where over 45 small-scale farmers have been killed in coordinated actions between the Honduran police and military forces in an operation called Xatruch II. The letters highlight that the Honduran state security forces have been involved as perpetrators, acted in collusion with private security forces or took no action in prosecuting human rights violators. The Bajo Aguan’s 15th Military Battalion in Bajo Aguán receives direct on the ground annual training from the US Army Rangers.

“Despite the clear international outcry concerning the human rights crisis in Honduras, the Obama administration has called for an increase is US military aid to Honduras. The increased funding is allegedly to fight the Drug War yet much of the violence in Honduras is politically motivated, unrelated to drugs. US military/police aid and training goes directly into the hands of a state that is implicated in widespread abuses of its civilians,” said Tanya Cole of the human rights group Witness for Peace Southwest, a member of the Honduras Solidarity Network. In addition 10 US Labor Unions - including the AFL-CIO and American Federation of Teachers - came out in support of Schakowsky’s letter.

Rep. Schakowsky’s Letter asks the State Department to:

  1. Suspend U.S. assistance to the Honduran military and police given the credible allegations of widespread, serious violations of human rights attributed to the security forces.
  2. Investigate and prosecute those responsible for murders, threats and other abuses In the Bajo Aguan and across the country, and urge the Honduran government to immediately suspend any members of military and police who have committed or acted in collusion with such abuses..
  3. Provide the current status of specific cases.
  4. Assure that the Honduran government holds accountable private security companies that have acted with impunity.
  5. Demand that Honduran government comply with the agreements already signed with campesino associations to address the land conflicts in the Bajo Aguán.
  6. Guarantee that the US Embassy in Honduras provide information of its specific efforts to apply the Leahy provisions in relation to abuses allegedly committed by members of the police and military in the Bajo Aguán.

Rep. Schakowsky’s letter was signed by an unprecedented 94 members of House, and indication of the growing concern of the failure of Honduran President Pepe Lobo to end impunity,” said Gary Cozette of the Chicago Religious Leadership Network, also a member of the Honduras Solidarity Network. ###

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