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Media Release

 

For Immediate Release
November 25, 2009
Contact: Rick Arnold 905-352-2430

Delegation to Conduct Human Rights Accompaniment and Observation in Lead-Up to Controversial Honduras Elections

Representatives of Canadian Labour and Human Rights Groups available for Interviews from Honduras, November 25 – December 1st

Toronto/Vancouver & Hyattsville, MD – A bi-national delegation of Canadian and US representatives from labour, human rights, and faith-based organizations will be in Honduras from November 25 to December 2, 2009, to conduct human rights accompaniment and observation at the time of the country’s controversial elections on November 29. 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.

“By providing witness in Honduras, by being there in the presence of people peacefully demonstrating for human rights and a return to democracy, we hope we can prevent further repression and violence,” said Tom Loudon, Co-Director of the US based Quixote Center, who will be helping to lead the delegation.
Canada’s position with respect to the Honduran crisis has been fraught with serious and unexplained inaction – all of which have served to bolster the military-backed regime. In contrast to other governments including the United States and the European Union, which suspended most bilateral aid and military assistance to the de facto authorities, Canada has failed to take even largely symbolic measures such as the closing down of the Department of National Defence’s cooperation programs in support of the Honduran police and military.

“Following the June 28 illegal ouster of democratically elected President Zelaya, Canada’s equivocal position has served isolated us from most other countries in the Americas that immediately and roundly condemned the military-backed regime. The Rio Treaty group of 22 nations will not be recognizing these elections as legitimate, and Canada should do likewise” said delegation co-organizer Rick Arnold of Common Frontiers.

While in Honduras, the Canadian members of the delegation plan to meet with various civil society organizations and Canadian Embassy officials. On November 29, the delegation plans to split up in order to engage in accompaniment and observation in multiple cities and towns in Honduras.

The Honduran elections are highly controversial, both inside Honduras and in the international community. President Zelaya has said that it is “too late” for free and fair elections to take place, and human rights organizations and popular movements in Honduras have described elections organized under a dictatorship as a “sick joke.” Over 300 Honduran candidates have dropped out, boycotting the elections. Mass demonstrations against the elections are being planned, and most countries and international bodies have stated that they will not recognize the elections or send observers, including the United Nations, the European Union, and the Organization of American States (OAS).

Delegation members will be reachable via the following mobile phone numbers in Honduras:

+504-3322-4247
+504-8819-3569
+504-8819-3575

Delegation members, available for media interviews, include:

Domenic Bellissimo, bellisd@osstf.on.ca
Domenic is an organizer and the provincial staff person responsible for Human Rights Committee and International programs, Ontario Secondary School Teachers’ Federation, which represents nearly 60,000 members including secondary school teachers, support staff and professionals in schools and universities.

Tom Loudon, toml@quixote.org
Tom is Co-Director of the Quixote Center and Program Coordinator for the Alliance for Responsible Trade. Tom has lived in Central America for fifteen of the past twenty years. He worked for two years with Witness for Peace, and subsequently worked in war zones to resettle internally displaced communities organized in to self-defense cooperatives. Post war he worked with a network of peasant organizations to implement alternative technologies.

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For additional information, please contact Rick Arnold, 905-352-2430, comfront@web.ca; Jenny Atlee, 301-699-0042/814-3570 jennya@quixote.org
Common Frontiers: www.commonfrontiers.ca
Quixote Center: www.quixote.org

 

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