Honduras government must stop violent clampdown on peaceful protests

June 26, 2019

Government violently represses citizens protests in Honduras

  • Three people killed and 20 wounded in brutal crackdown on protests in Honduras
  • Global civil society alliance condemns the harsh repression of demonstrations in Honduras and the decision of the government to use of military forces to control protests
  • Defenders in the country face an extremely risky environment experiencing violence and criminalization

Global civil society alliance, CIVICUS, has condemned the government’s violent response to peaceful protests in Honduras. For several months, Hondurans have been protesting changes to policy in the country’s health and education sectors that teachers and doctors say will trigger mass dismissals and lead to the privatization of public healthcare and education.

The national demonstrations have been joined by students, transportation workers, commuters and members of the national police force.

On June 24, military police entered the National Autonomous University in the Honduran capital, Tegucigalpa and fired on protesting students. At least three demonstrators have been killed, more than 20 injured and many more arrested and detained.

Over the past few weeks, the government has mobilized riot police in several cities to violently stop demonstrations. Following protests last week, a Honduras security council meeting decided that military and intelligence forces would be employed to repress protests.

‚ÄúThere is no justification for the violent, excessive use of force by security forces against citizens peacefully expressing their discontent with the government actions,‚ÄĚ said Natalia Gomez, CIVICUS advocacy and engagement officer.

‚ÄúThe government of Honduras should comply with its international human rights obligations and stop clamping down on the rights of citizens,‚ÄĚ said Gomez.

The United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights in Honduras has publicly reminded the government that international human rights standards prohibit the use of military forces in public order policing. The OHCHR also called for a prompt and thorough investigation into the deaths that occurred during the protests.

Honduran civil society groups have also condemned security forces preventing media coverage of the protests and attacking journalists attempting to photograph police violations of human rights. According to local human rights organization, C-libre, 12 journalists and cameramen were attacked by police on June 11.

Honduras has become one of the world‚Äôs most dangerous countries for human rights defenders, according to The CIVICUS Monitor, an online platform that tracks threats to civil society worldwide. During a visit to Honduras last year, the Interamerican Commission on Human Rights confirmed that the environment for rights campaigners "continues to be one of extreme risk due to the constant violence, criminalization, and slander they are exposed to‚ÄĚ.

In May, nine indigenous Tolupan leaders were targeted for their opposition to detrimental forest projects that were approved by the state without their consultation. They faced an initial hearing on Monday June 24, which came four months after the assassination of two members of their community. These cases highlight the dangerous environment, characterized by violence and criminalization, in which activists operate. More than 100 civil society organizations from across the globe recently endorsed a statement demanding an immediate end to the prosecution of the indigenous leaders and guarantee their rights over their ancestral territory.

CIVICUS calls on the Honduras authorities to ensure a safe environment for protestors and indigenous leaders and to respect their right to raise concerns and assemble peacefully.

CIVICUS is a global alliance of civil society organisations and activists dedicated to strengthening citizen action and civil society around the world. Founded in 1993, we proudly promote marginalised voices, especially from the Global South, and have members in more than 160 countries throughout the world.

ENDS.

For more information please contact:

Natalia Gomez:

The CIVICUS media team:

To request interviews, you can also contact the CIVICUS Press Centre here.

 

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