Tuesday, 20 October 2009

Zelaya Backers Vow More Protests

Oct. 19 (Bloomberg by Blake Schmidt) -- Supporters of ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya vowed to step up pressure on the acting government for his restoration after burying a union leader who died from gunshot wounds sustained at a weekend protest.

“We’ve lost another comrade, we feel indignant, impotent, but above all this reaffirms our struggle,” said Juan Barahona, who served as a negotiator for Zelaya in talks to end the crisis, in an interview today at a cemetery north of Tegucigalpa where union leader Jairo Sanchez was buried.

Protests seeking Zelaya’s return to office have been undercut by the acting government’s suspension of constitutional rights and closings of two media outlets since Zelaya’s unexpected Sept. 21 return from exile, Barahona said. One of the media outlets, Radio Globo, returned to air today.

The acting government should restore rights and stop blocking prosecutors’ investigations of alleged human rights abuses, Human Rights Watch said in an Oct. 16 report. The report alleged killings, excessive use of force by authorities and “illegal and arbitrary detentions.”

Sanchez died Oct. 17 after being hospitalized with a gunshot wound to the head received at a protest, according to Honduran human rights investigator Andres Pavon. Police are investigating the shooting, police spokesman Danilo Orellano said.

Talks to end the Honduran political crisis, triggered by the June 28 ouster of Zelaya, remain deadlocked over what government branch should decide on whether Zelaya is restored to power.

Speaking on Radio Globo, which returned to air today 22 days after it was raided and shuttered by the military, Zelaya called on the acting government to revoke a decree suspending press freedom. He also called for the government to reopen TV Channel 36, which was shuttered the same day as Radio Globo.

“The coup regime thinks it can cancel media that are against it,” Zelaya told Radio Globo.