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Constitutional Rights Suspended in Honduras

by the Witness for Peace Staff in Tegucigalpa

Police enter the blockade surrounding the Brazilian embassy.

Last night President Manuel Zelaya called for a massive mobilization of peaceful protests on Monday. Speaking from the Brazilian embassy where he has been taking sanctuary since his return to the country last week, Zelaya asked Hondurans to come together in the streets of Tegucigalpa in a show of support for the constitutional leader.

In response, Roberto Micheletti, the head of the de facto government has called a state of emergency suspending all constitutional rights for the next 45 days. This executive decree prohibits all unauthorized gatherings, any speech against the coup and media stories that do not agree with official pronouncements. The military continues to clear the streets every night with a curfew that begins at a different time each day, and lasts until 5 or 6 in the morning.

The human toll of the coup continues to grow. Wendy Elizabeth Avila, a 24-year-old student, died yesterday from complications caused by the gases released in the Brazilian embassy on Tuesday. A doctor allowed inside the embassy reports that more than 80 people continue to suffer from the effects of the gas with nosebleeds, sore throats, and signs of internal bleeding.

Protesters confined inside the Brazilian embassy since Tuesday

Diplomatic relations with the de facto regime have further deteriorated. The de facto regime refused entry to an OAS delegation that arrived this afternoon to try to negotiate an end to the crisis. Micheletti has given the Brazilian government 10 days to declare Zelaya’s status or risk losing diplomatic status for their embassy in the Honduran capital. The US administration revoked the diplomatic visa of Blanca Micheletti, the coup leader’s daughter, who had been working in the Honduran embassy in Washington, DC.

Human rights leaders in Honduras are extremely concerned about the growing tensions here, and continue to call for international support. If you have not already done so, please call the State Department and White House with the following message.

“Work for the unconditional immediate reinstatement of President Zelaya. Pressure the Honduran military to stop the violence against the people and their democratically elected president, Mel Zelaya.”


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