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Australia must act for democracy in Honduras
An open letter to the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs
To: Stephen Smith
Minister for Foreign Affairs
PO Box 6022, Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600
Tel: (02) 6277 7500 Fax: (02) 6273 4112
Cc: Electorate office
953A Beaufort St
Inglewood WA 6932
Tel: (08) 9272 3411 Fax: (08) 9272 3477
September 24, 2009
Dear Minister Smith,
The people and nation of Honduras urgently need the support of democratic governments and peoples around the world.
The current military dictatorship in Honduras, which on June 28 overthrew the elected government of President Manuel Zelaya Rosales in a coup d’etat, has unleashed a wave of repression against tens of thousands of people who have taken to the streets demanding Zelaya’s immediate restoration as president.
Zelaya re-entered Honduras on foot on September 21 and was given asylum by the Brazilian government in its embassy in Tegucigalpa. However, on September 22, as thousands of people assembled outside the embassy to welcome Zelaya home, the coup regime headed by Roberto Micheletti cut electricity and water to the embassy and tear-gassed, pepper-sprayed and fired on the president’s supporters, seriously injuring some.
With Zelaya’s return, the incessant violations of human rights and fundamental liberties perpetrated by the dictatorship over the last 85 days have significantly increased. Hundreds more civilians have been arrested and images have emerged of large numbers of protesters being rounded up and detained in a sports stadium in Tegucigalpa. The military has now imposed a total curfew in the country – an attempt to prevent the Honduran people from expressing their wish for the restoration of democracy in their country.
Speaking to international media on September 21, Zelaya called on Honduras’ armed forces to “respect the human rights of the Honduran people … To the commander general of the armed forces ... I peacefully make a call for sanity, so that there is no violence on the streets. The people here are unarmed, shouting for joy.”
It is a fundamental human right of all peoples to determine their own government and political future and during the last three months the people of Honduras have made very clear what they want with peaceful protests, strikes and road blockades, on a daily basis. On September 15, three million people rallied in more than 20 cities and towns across Honduras demanding an end to the coup.
We join with the nine governments of Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, the Organisation of American States, the UN General Assembly and the Rio Group in their call for Zelaya to be immediately reinstated as the legitimate president of Honduras and for the democratically elected government to be able to resume its duties. We note also that the European Union and almost every government in the world have officially condemned the coup, and call on the Australian government to urgently:
- Demand that the coup leaders respect the integrity of the Brazilian embassy and immediately stop the repression against civilians;
- Actively support the reinstatement of democratically-elected President Manuel Zelaya, including supporting all calls for his reinstatement made at the 64th meeting of the United Nations General Assembly this week;
- Demand the immediate release of all political and social movement activists who have been detained by the military;
- Support President Zelaya’s and the Honduran people’s rejection of the terms of the “Arias agreement”, which would legitimise the coup leaders’ actions, and work for the reinstatement of Zelaya to the presidency without conditions of any kind, in accordance with the will of the people of Honduras.
- Not recognise the results of Honduran elections in November if those elections are carried out while the coup government remains in power, the position of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
- Support the calls of the Honduran people for the coup leaders to be arrested and tried for their crimes.
- Pressure the United States administration to end its training of the Honduran military.
Yours in support of the democratic rights of all peoples,
Bea Bleile, Margarita Windisch, Dick Nichols
National Conveners, Socialist Alliance