Reports from Honduras

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Canadian members of the CF / Quixote Centre delegation to Honduras


Irene Lanzinger – President of the British Columbia Teachers Federation (BCTF) currently on leave from the Vancouver school district where she is a teacher of Math and Physics;


Larry Kuehn – Director of Research at the BCTF and responsible for the BCTF International Solidarity Programme.


Scott Marshall – Executive Officer on the Provincial Executive of the Ontario Secondary Schools Teachers Federation (OSSTF) was a Special Education teacher from 1997-2004 with the Hastings and Prince Edward District School Board before taking up his union duties;


Domenic Bellissimo – OSSTF Executive Assistant and responsible for the OSSTF Human Rights Committee and for International Programmes;


Jackie McVicar – Breaking The Silence (BTS) Coordinator and a member of the Atlantic Region Solidarity Network (ARSN).


Nov 25 - Dec 2, 2009

Honduras Human Rights Observers Daily Reports

A bi-national delegation of Canadian and US representatives from labour, human rights, and faith-based organizations is in Honduras to conduct human rights accompaniment and observation at the time of the country’s controversial elections on November 29. The bi-national delegation has been co-organized along with the Quixote Centre in the U.S. (that has organized 7 previous delegations since the June 28 military-backed coup). The delegation’s members hope that their presence will mitigate human rights violations by the Honduran military and police, and that they will be able to document any violations that occur. The team is posting regular reports which appear below, with the most recent report on the top. The members of the delegation are listed in the left column.

- See photos from the delegates in our Gallery

Daily Report #13 - Irene Lanzinger

Sunday – Election Day in Honduras

We arrived at the market at about 10:00 a.m. as people started to gather. Armed police drove through a few times. Shortly after 11:00 a.m. a truck arrived with crosses bearing the names of the people who have been murdered or disappeared during the resistance to the coup.

The march started about noon with about 200 people. The Hondurans asked us to stay near the back near the police so they could see us. We did that but we also traveled up and down the march to observe. It was a completely peaceful march with lots of flags, banners and a truck with a loud speaker.

We arrived at the central square at about 12:45 p.m. The numbers increased during the march and about 500 people gathered at the square. Along a side street to the square I could see a huge water canon truck, a large military truck and police jeeps. A crowd gathered in front of the military truck. A loud speaker was advising people to move to the public square, to sit down and not to provoke police. There was absolutely no provocation of the military or police. At one point someone told me that the police were putting on their gas masks.

Shortly after, the water canon began firing on people, and the tear gas was fired into the crowd. Scott Marshall (OSSTF) and I started to run through the square. Scott told me we should stop and film what was happening so we did for a few minutes. The police were running toward us. When the police raised their guns I told Scott we had to go and we continued running through the square. At the back of the square a Honduran shouted at us to go right not left and we followed his advice. It was good advice because the majority of the crowd, the police and most of the tear gas went left.

The tear gas cleared a little and we stayed in the square and observed several people who were injured because they were beaten by the police or injured in the confusion of the escape from the tear gas. The Red Cross arrived to administer to them.

Things seemed to calm down in the square so we returned to the hotel. I e-mailed my partner to let him know I was OK. As I finished the e-mail I heard helicopters and went outside to see what was happening. We could see people running away from the square in the distance. I walked down to the corner to see what was happening. There were seven or eight people standing in our street mostly from our group. We were just watching what was happening. Within minutes the police came down the cross street and threw two tear gas canisters down our street. They were going off between me and the hotel. I had to either run into the tear gas or away from the hotel. I chose the safety of the hotel and ran through the gas to the hotel. Some of our group jumped into our van which was parked across from the hotel.

After the tear gas cleared a bit we set out in the van to observe polling stations. They were very quiet with very few people voting. However, the people there told us that they had been busy during the day. They claimed that the anti-Zelaya forces were a small minority and provoked the police. It was not consistent with what we had observed.

We visited another polling station and then set off to a police station where a number of people had been detained as a result of the rally at the square. Shortly after we arrived a number of young men were released. Eight people had been detained at that station. One of the young men released had been beaten and pepper-sprayed so badly that he could not see. We gave another young man a ride home and he showed us the welts on his arms and legs from the beating he had endured.

That was election day in Honduras.


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