We need democracy now, not later. And while all of us tell stories, time is going on, and it is the poor people who are suffering from torture and persecution. My last message is do not be silent during this time. To be silent is to be complicit. We need people speaking out; we need people like you to speak up for the Honduran people.
The military coup in Honduras on June 28th, 2009 sparked a crisis for the Honduran people and the global community. Since the military’s removal of President Zelaya, Honduran delegations have traveled to the United States in an effort to encourage the approval or condemnation of the military government headed by Roberto Micheletti.
On July 15th, LAWG, Rights Action, and SOA Watch brought a delegation of political and civic leaders from Honduras to Capitol Hill to discuss the lead up to the coup, and the severe consequences since President Zelaya was removed. The following quotes are taken from this briefing entitled “Crisis in Honduras.”
Dr. Juan Almendares Bonilla is a widely recognized environmentalist, and was a candidate for president for the Democratic Union party in the 2005 Honduran elections. He has been fighting for human rights for decades and is currently the director of the Madre Tierra environmental association.
"I am here to tell some stories that I have lived through. I have suffered the consequences of persecution and I have suffered from torture. I am a doctor, and studied at the University of California and the University of Pennsylvania. I have struggled against torture, and I have been struggling for justice in the jails in Honduras, which are the most hellish places on earth. And inn case you don’t know, we have had massacres in Honduras. And these were during the last century; they were recent, within the past 20-30 years.
"So, I have seen a civilian based government, and a military government, in the 1980s. I am a survivor of the militarism of the 1980s. And what I see now, what is happening in Honduras, is the same situation as the 1980s. Who is doing this? The same militaries, the same perpetrators, the same ruling class. We are also a terribly poor country, really poor.
"Now I don’t have a prejudice against any profession, but I really have to ask, do we need arms in Honduras? No, we don’t need arms, because who are they helping?
“And I am putting myself at risk now; all of us here are at risk to be killed when we return to Honduras. But we have to say what is going on.
“Let me tell you a story of a recent incident since the military coup. There was a boy killed. First the military government denied the attack, they said it was rubber bullets. But we have found more than 150 bullets, real bullets. Then, the father of the son, who is a pastor, was put in jail because he made a public statement that the army shot his son.
"So, today I ask you all, please raise the conscience of the people in the United States I have found beautiful people here. They have given me solidarity. I am still alive because I had this solidarity through the 1980s until now. But now it is important that we make people here more aware of the truth, of what is really happening. I know you can hold your Congress, Senate, administration, and all of these structures accountable. But, they’re not only structures, they are humans. And I am sure that they have the sensibility and the humanity to stop this regime. We have to stop the human rights violations now. We need democracy now. Not later. And while all of us tell stories, time is going on, and it is the poor people who are suffering from torture and persecution.
"My last message is do not be silent during this time. To be silent is to be complicit. We need people speaking out; we need people like you to speak up for the Honduran people.”