Nov 28, 2009

Coup Security Forces Raid Campesino Organization Day Before the Elections

Today, heavily armed members of the national police, military and criminal investigation units under the coup regime raided the Honduran farm organization COMAL (Alternative Community Marketing Network) in Siguatepeque, in Comayagua. COMAL is a coalition of 42 small-scale farming and women's organizations from throughout Honduras.

At 1:40 p.m. about fifty members of the security forces broke into the offices of COMAL. After breaking down the doors with their guns and intimidating the employees, they produced a search order a full twenty minutes later. The offices were ransacked, under an order that stated authorization to search for weapons and "materials that could threaten lives".

At 2:30 the raid spread to the training center of the organization. Security forces confiscated four computers, including the accountant's computer. They also took educational materials used in community workshops to analyze the current political situation and publications from the non-violent resistance movement. The soldiers referred to these materials as "proof" of subversive activities. Intelligence agents removed a list of all the people who had attended workshops in the organization and employees. They took the entire petty cash fund as well.

The offices were left in total disarray, employees were stripped of their cellphones and held in the offices during the raid. No one had been arrested at last report. Security forces continued to ransack the offices until 5:20 p.m.

Miguel Alonzo Macias, director of planning and projects for COMAL, stated that the police and soldiers entered heavily armed and nervous. Among the information they took from the offices were computer archives containing photographs of the peaceful marches where members of the organization demonstrated against the coup, "where they can see the faces of everyone of us who participated," and testimonies from communities describing violations of human rights under the coup. The group fears further persecution.

In a phone interview, Macias stated, "What just happened to us is evidence that basic guarantees of individual human rights and institutional rights do not exist in Honduras. As a result, the objective conditions in terms of the personal security for people to be able to vote freely don't exist either."

"It's important for the international community and international human rights groups to be aware that this is happening and of what kind of military actions are being carried out. These actions are clearly meant to intimidate the population that sees things differently than the de facto regime and that condemns the coup."

"The security forces have our names, identification numbers, vehicles and photographs. We now have to take precautionary measures to protect ourselves and our families. The international community should demand respect for human rights in our country, where these rights are being constantly violated. We also demand assurances for the safety of our people and other detained and identified as under watch by security forces."

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