Three years have passed since President Manuel Zelaya’s ouster in a coup d’état on 28 June 2009, which not only overturned democratic institutions and an electoral result but also led to a collapse in respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms in a country already known for one of the highest levels of violent crime in the world.
Someone is shot dead every 74 minutes in Honduras. This statistic unfortunately diverts attention from the scale of the permanent political violence, which is compounded by widespread delinquency and organized crime’s infiltration of society. An entire region in the northeast, Bajo Aguán, has been militarized since 2010 in order to facilitate a crackdown on peasant communities embroiled in violent land conflicts with big landowners.
Describing this reality, defending human rights and exercising the right to impart or receive news and information can get you killed nowadays in Honduras. The favourite targets include NGO and union representatives, civil society activists, lawyers, teachers, academics and journalists. More than 70 lawyers have been killed during the past three years, many of them for defending the victims of police and military abuses. Of the 28 journalists killed in the past decade, 23 were killed since the coup.
Almost all of these killings have gone unpunished. When human rights defenders are not gunned down, they live on borrowed time, exposed to constant threats and intimidation. The “national reconciliation” advocated by the Cartagena Accord, which led to Honduras’s readmission to the Organization of American states in June 2011, is a dead letter. Former President Zelaya’s return in May 2011 did not bring the hoped-for peace.
This situation nonetheless gets little international coverage. Is Honduras too small a country with too low a profile to deserve sustained attention from the international media and public opinion? Will the international silence continue until there is another fire on the scale of the conflagration in Comayagua prison, in which 361 people were killed on the night of 14 February?
It is partly in protest against this silence that the FIDH, French Human Rights League (LDH) and Reporters Without Borders called for the biggest possible demonstration at 6 p.m. on 28 June at the Saint-Michel Fountain in Paris. The demonstration, which is also being called by the France Latin America Association and the Honduras Alert collective, was to demand justice for all the victims of the coup and repression in Honduras.
The cartoon we are using to accompany our appeal and to symbolize this protest is by Rafael “Rapé” Pineda, a Mexican cartoonist who draws for many Mexican newspapers including El Universal, Proceso, Reforma and Milenio. Rapé is from Veracruz, one of the states that has been hit worst by the drug cartel wars and the federal offensive against drug trafficking. He had to flee the region earlier this year and is now spending some time in France. We thank him for his support and solidarity. The cartoon can be used by anyone who wants to support this demonstration as long as they mention his name.
The second cartoon was taken from the Canadian Journalists for Free Expression organization (CJFE). This campaign, composed of three posters, denounce the impunity and represent three journalists which murders remain unpunished.