Tuesday August 11, 2009
Tucson, AZ – Congressman Raul M. Grijalva (D-AZ), together with 16 other members of Congress, recently delivered a letter to President Obama urging him to denounce human rights violations in Honduras and take further measures against the Honduran coup regime.
Over a month has now passed since democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya was deposed and deported to Costa Rica by the Honduran military and, despite widespread international condemnation and diplomatic sanctions, the de facto regime remains firmly in place. As time wears on, the human rights situation in Honduras grows increasingly worrying, with a growing quantity of reports of violent repression of anti-coup protests, extrajudicial killings reminiscent of the death squad era of the early 80s and arbitrary arrests of hundreds of peaceful demonstrators. These violations have been accompanied by far-reaching media censorship and the beating, arrest and intimidation of independent journalists by military and police.
The U.S. administration has taken important measures against the coup regime, such as halting military aid and other forms of non-humanitarian assistance to Honduras, but it is clear that further action is necessary to ensure that democracy is restored and the civil rights of Honduras’ citizens are respected.
The co-signers of the letter to president Obama believe, therefore, that it is time for the U.S. administration to send a clear signal that the human rights violations that are being perpetrated under the coup regime in Honduras are unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue. The letter also considers that the U.S. administration should take measures that directly target those responsible for the coup.
Revoking the A-1 diplomatic visas of a few key coup officials, as the State Department did on July 29th, is a step in the right direction, but clearly not sufficient as this does not prevent those targeted by the decision from continuing to travel to the U.S. on tourist and other visas. The letter strongly urges president Obama to deny those involved in the coup entry to the United States and immediately instruct the Treasury Department to freeze their U.S.-based assets.