Honduras: riots, repression amid neoliberal 'reform'
In the wake of angry protests that swept through Tegucigalpa April 29, Amnesty International is denouncing attacks against human rights defenders by Honduran security forces during the unrest. Amnesty charged that riot police used tear-gas outside the headquarters of the Committee of Relatives of the Detained and Disappeared of Honduras (COFADEH), where demonstrators tried to take shelter. Members of the group were also detained. The prelude to the protests also saw detention and harassment of social leaders across Honduras. On April 19, Míriam Miranda and Aurelia Arzú, leaders of the Fraternal Black Organization of Honduras (OFRANEH), were stopped and briefly detained by National Police at a road checkpoint in Sabá, Colón department. Miranda has continued to face arbitrary detention and harassment despite being under an official order of protection due to threats against her.
The Tegucigalpa protests, which saw the city's municipal palace set on fire, were called to oppose a package of bills that aim to restructure the ministries of education and health. The bills won preliminary approval by the Honduran National Congress April 24, in a tense session that saw rival lawmakers push and shove each other. Doctors and teachers have gone on strike in protest of the proposed reform, which they say will lead to mass firings in the public sector, and represents a step toward privatization of education and health services. Final approval of the package was scheduled for Aprl 29, but was postponed when the congressional session was suspended due to the protests. (Amnesty International, May 3; BBC News, April 30; El Heraldo, La Prensa, Honduras, April 29; Honduras Resiste, April 19)