Beatings and detentions follow Honduras demonstrations
Amnesty International has received continuing reports of numerous demonstrators being beaten by police and some several hundred detained across Tegucigalpa, the capital city of Honduras. The reports follow the break up by police of a mass demonstration outside the Brazilian Embassy on Tuesday. Reports also indicate similar human rights violations across the country. There has been a sharp rise in police beatings, mass arrests of demonstrators and intimidation of human rights defenders since the return to Honduras on Monday of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales. The President was expelled from the country in a coup d’etat in June. Amnesty International has warned that fundamental rights and the rule of law in the Central American nation are in grave jeopardy. "The situation in Honduras can only be described as alarming," said Susan Lee, Americas Director at Amnesty International. "The attacks against human rights defenders, suspension of news outlets, beating of demonstrators by the police and ever increasing reports of mass arrests indicate that human rights and the rule of law in Honduras are at grave risk." According to reports received by the organization, around 15 police fired tear gas canisters at the building of the prominent human rights organization, the Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras (Comité de Familiares de Detenidos Desaparecidos en Honduras) on Tuesday morning. Around 100 people, including women and children, were inside the office at the time. Many had come to denounce police abuses during the break up of a demonstration earlier outside the Brazilian Embassy, where ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya has taken refuge. Amnesty International has received information that dozens of protestors were taken to unauthorised detention sites across the capital on Tuesday night. Although most of those detained have been released, mass arbitrary arrests may make those detained vulnerable to human rights abuses such as ill-treatment, torture or enforced disappearance. Amnesty International has documented the limits which have been imposed on freedom of expression since the coup d’état. These include the closure of media outlets, the confiscation of equipment and physical abuse of journalists and camerapersons covering events. Radio Globo and TV channel 36 yesterday suffered power stoppages or constant interruptions to their transmissions which prevented them from broadcasting. "The only way forward is for the de facto authorities to stop the policy of repression and violence and instead respect the rights of freedom of expression and association," said Susan Lee. "We also urge the international community to urgently seek a solution, before Honduras sinks even deeper into a human rights crisis."