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Updates from Honduras

July 2009

Via Campesina leader arrested, released

The repression against demonstrations to reinstall Honduran President Manuel Zelaya continues. In the border region with Nicaragua, intense conflicts between the Army and protesters resulted in two wounded and several arrests. On Saturday, our colleague Rafael Alegría, a leader of the Via Campesina, was arrested as he traveled to join protesters in El Paraíso.

The Army sent 3,000 soldiers to El Paraíso, a city near the Honduran border with Nicaragua. Despite Army blockades, thousands of Zelaya supporters from different parts of the country converged on the city to show their support for their elected leader. Many travelled the dirt roads on foot through the mountains to avoid blockades on main roads.

Rafael was traveling with members of the Civic Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH). Part of the delegation of COPINH was also arrested.

Because of international pressure from allies, Rafael and the COPINH members were liberated.  On behalf of Grassroots International, I thank all those whose support and solidarity helped to free our colleagues in Honduras.

Red Cross ambulance allegedly carrying tear gas to Honduran border

A group of pro-Zelaya protesters detained a Red Cross ambulance that was reported to be carrying tear gas to supply the Army in the Honduran border region with Nicaragua. The Geneva Convention and its Additional Protocol explicitly prohibit the use of humanitarian aid vehicles for military proposes.. The alleged transportation of weaponry by the Red Cross ambulance constitutes a serious violation of the convention.   

According to Revistazo, a Honduran news agency, the alleged violation occurred in the town of Las Manos. A group of protesters stopped Ambulance #112 of the Honduran Red Cross and found boxes of tear gas inside. The Army had been using tear gas on Friday to suppress protestors. The Red Cross denies that their vehicle was used to transport weapons.

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