By May 21st: Call your Rep to denounce human rights violations in Honduras!
U.S. Congressional Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry: "Egregious violations of human rights continue in Honduras 5 years after the June 2009 military coup.” U.S. Citizens: Please urge your U.S. Congress Member to sign this letter Extended deadline: Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 5:00pm EST Below:
- Letter from Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL)
- Current list of 70 Congressional signers
- Letter to Secretary of State John Kerry
The frightening level of State-sanctioned violence and the closure of democratic spaces in Honduras more and more resembles the El Salvador of 30 years ago; and the human rights situation continues to deteriorate. The bloodshed and flagrant repression of the social movement, journalists, the leftist LIBRE party and all voices calling for peace is not just a threat to the Honduran people, but to the entire region. More weapons, more trained killers and more refugees are some immediate impacts to the region, as well as an emboldened, hardline, right-wing Honduran military and state. The movements for peace and justice in Honduras need our support - please call your Representative today and ask her or him to join other voices in Congress to support peace in Honduras! In solidarity, CISPES National Office ******* IMMEDIATE ACTION NEEDED Contact the Foreign Policy Staffer in the Washington DC Office of Your U.S. Rep in Congress! On Monday, April 28, 2014, Rep. Janice Schakowsky (D-IL) began circulating a sign-on "Dear Colleague" letter in the U.S. House of Representatives to Secretary of State John Kerry addressing Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Honduras. In less than three weeks, 67 other representatives have signed on. Your help is needed to secure the signature of your representative in the U.S. House of Representatives. Only members of the House can sign the letter. To sign on to the letter (or if the staffer wishes to see an official copy of the letter), your Rep’s staffer must contact Andrew Goczkowski ([email protected]) in Schakowsky's office. Deadline to sign: Wednesday, May 21, 2014, 5:00pm EST Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, give them the name of your Rep and ask to be connected. (If you do not know the name of your Rep, please go to http://www.house.gov/ and enter your zip code at the upper right). CALL SCRIPT When you call, ask to speak with the aide who handles Foreign Policy. Use the script below in speaking with the aide. If the aide does not recall seeing the letter, ask for the aide’s email address so that you can forward a copy of the letter. If the foreign policy aide is not available, ask to leave a message on his or her voice mail. Be sure to get his or her name so you can follow up. “My name is _____. I am a constituent from (town / city) in (your state). I am calling to ask Congressperson _____ to sign the Jan Schakowsky letter on Human Rights and the Rule of Law in Honduras. Has Representative___ seen this letter? Can I count on him/her to sign on? Please call me this week at (_your phone number_) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Representative _____ will sign it.” In your phone conversation, you might highlight why this letter is important to you, especially if you have travelled to Honduras or heard a Honduran speak in your community. FOLLOW-UP It's useful to follow up with an email to the aide. You can ask whoever answers the phone what their email is or, if you know how to spell their name correctly (the person who first answer the phone can spell it for you), use this formula: [email protected], e.g. [email protected]. In an email, you can just ask them to sign the letter and, if you wish, send additional information. BACKGROUND ARTICLES 1. http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/02/honduras-the-thugocracy-ext-door-103883.html 2. http://sojo.net/magazine/2014/04/crucible-courage 3. http://mcgovern.house.gov/media-center/press-releases/statement-by-reps-mcgovern-farr-and-schakowsky-on-the-murder-in-honduras If you learn that your Congressmember has agreed to sign, please notify Gary Cozette ([email protected]) so we can confirm the signature with Rep. Schakowsky. You can also contact Gary Cozette if you want to know if your representative has signed on. Gary will circulate updated lists of signers whenever we receive them from Rep. Schakowsky's office. NOTE: Please DO NOT send the letter to the media in either the US or Honduras until the letter has secured all signers and is formally delivered to the State Department with all signers and a press release. Also, once again, please do not contact Schakowsky's staff yourself, but ask your Rep’s staffer to do so to become a signer. Gary L. Cozette Honduras Solidarity Network – Congressional Working Group C: 773.350.3518 ******* JOINT LETTER TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT Urging Action to Protect Human Rights in Honduras April 28, 2014 Dear Colleague, Please join us in signing the attached letter to Secretary of State John Kerry urging action on the ongoing human rights situation in Honduras. While a new Administration has recently been sworn in, grave concerns remain over the human rights situation. Vulnerable groups continue to be targets of intimidation and violence, military forces continue to be utilized for policing, and human rights abusers continue to operate with impunity in the region. The 2013 elections in Honduras were preceded by the assassination of several opposition candidates, and questions remain about discrepancies in the vote. We hope you will join us in writing to Secretary Kerry to ensure that the State Department continues to urge the Honduran government to protect fundamental human rights in the region, end the use of military forces for law enforcement, investigate and prosecute abuses, and restore the rule of law. If you have any questions, or would like to sign onto the letter, please contact Andrew Goczkowski in Rep. Schakowsky’s office at 202-225-2111, or by emailing [email protected]. Thank you for your consideration. Sincerely, Current Signers as of May 16, 2014 1. Schakowsky (IL) 2. Johnson (GA ) 3. Farr (CA) 4. Miller (CA) 5. Grijalva (AZ) 6. Kaptur (OH) 7. McGovern (MA) 8. Lee (CA) 9. DeLauro (CT) 10. Michaud (ME) 11. Tierney (MA) 12. Conyers (MI) 13. DeFazio (OR) 14. Takano (CA) * 15. Capuano (MA) 16. Keating (MA) 17. Waters (CA) 18. Welsh (VT) 19. Moore (WI) 20. Speier (CA) 21. Pingree (ME) 22. McDermott (WA) 23. Bass (CA) 24. Polis (CO) 25. Cicilline (RI) 26. Huffman (CA) * 27. Nadler (NY) 28. Van Hollen (MD) 29. Slaughter (NY) 30. Brady (PA) 31. McCollum (MN) 32. Neal (MA) 33. Honda (CA) 34. Waxman (CA) 35. Matusi (CA) 36. Bera (CA) * 37. McLeod (CA) * 38. Pocan (WI) * 39. Kind (WI) 40. Ellison (MN) 41. Tonko (NY) 42. Lynch (MA) 43. A. Hastings (FL) 44. Castro (TX) * 45. Blumenauer (OR) 46. Langevin (RI) 47. O’Rourke (TX) * 48. Grayson (FL) * 49. Cleaver (MO) 50. Braley (IA) 51. Jackson-Lee (TX) 52. Garamendi (CA) 53. Lewis (GA) 54. Holt (NJ) 55. Chu (CA) 56. Kennedy (MA) * 57. Brownley (CA) * 58. Pascrell (NJ) 59. Clark (MA) * 60. Beatty (OH) * 61. Swalwell (CA) * 62. Gutierrez (IL) 63. Enyart (IL) * 64. Bonamici (OR) 65. Shea-Porter (NH) * 66. D. Davis (IL) 67. Eshoo (CA) 68. Deutch (FL) 69. Bordallo (GU) 70. Doyle (PA) * New 1st Term Members of the House = 15 LETTER TO JOHN KERRY May XX, 2014
We write to express concern about the ongoing human rights situation in Honduras. As a new President and Congress have recently taken office, we ask the State Department to use its leverage to urge the Honduran government to protect the fundamental human rights of its citizens, end the use of military forces for law enforcement, investigate and prosecute abuses, and, more broadly, restore the rule of law. Almost five years after the 2009 coup ousting President Zelaya, egregious violations of human rights continue. The Associated Press has documented ongoing death-squad style killings by Honduran police. Independent media and human rights organizations continue to report that vulnerable groups, including members of the LGBT community and indigenous and campesino activists, are being targeted and killed. Basic labor rights are routinely violated and union leaders have received increased death threats in recent months. Instead of implementing reforms to address those pervasive problems, the Honduran government adopted policies that threaten to make the human rights situation even worse. The former and current administrations have promoted the militarization of police forces and use their armed forces for domestic law enforcement. In August 2012, a new Military Police was created, with a projected size of at least 5,000. That force has committed human rights abuses while engaged in policing, such as the October 2013 raid on the home of opposition activist Edwin Espinal. Members of the armed forces are also implicated in the killing of Tomás Garcia in July 2013. Because of a continuing record of human rights abuses by the Honduran police and military, Members of Congress have repeatedly called for a cessation of U.S. aid to the country’s security forces. Those and other human rights abuses have not been effectively investigated or prosecuted in recent years. According to the National Commissioner for Human Rights, during the last administration, dozens of lawyers and journalists were killed and 97 percent of cases regarding these suspected human rights abuses remain unpunished. The non-governmental group Rights Action cites allegations of almost 100 killings of lands rights activists in the area of Bajo Aguán. According to a Human Rights Watch study, there is “virtually complete impunity for crimes” believed to be associated with land conflicts in that region of the country. We are also concerned about recent developments impeding Hondurans’ freedom of speech and association. In the first two months of 2014, the Honduran government published a new decree revoking the legal status of over ten thousand non-profit organizations, including a wide range of opposition groups. Those groups include women’s and environmental organizations, a prominent group that regularly reports on press freedom issues, and schools. Finally, we are concerned about reports that last year’s election in Honduras was not free and fair. The human rights group COFADEH reports that at least 18 members of the leading opposition party LIBRE were assassinated in the lead-up to the election, with an additional six LIBRE-affiliated individuals and a well-known progressive journalist killed in the weeks after. Election observers documented widespread vote-buying activities, acts of intimidation, and cases of citizens’ names being eliminated from voting rolls. Challenges by opposition parties regarding discrepancies in the vote were not transparently addressed by the Supreme Electoral Council. We ask that you pay close attention to those issues, strictly evaluating U.S. support and training for the Honduran police and military in accordance with human rights conditions placed in the 2014 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations law. We also ask that you fully enforce the Leahy Law, which prohibits assistance to individuals or units of any foreign military or police body that commit gross human rights abuses with impunity. The State Department, along with our embassy in Honduras, must take a consistent and public stance supporting those threatened with human rights abuses, and strongly encourage the investigation and prosecution of those perpetuating crimes, including state agents. Thank you for your attention to this important matter. Sincerely, Members of Congress