November 20, 2013

Mercy Steps Up Honduras Advocacy

Mercy has continued to monitor the human rights situation in Honduras, particularly the violence directed against rural communities exercising their right to peacefully oppose mining and against human rights defenders and international accompaniers who have been documenting the violations.

This comes in the larger context of the military takeover of police functions, initially with 1,000 on the streets in early October and up to 5,000 prior to the country’s elections on November 24. Responding to the call for election monitors, Mercy Sister Kathleen Erickson, a West-Midwest justice coordinator, will be joining a delegation of volunteers organized by SHARE.

Mercy Sisters and Associates in Honduras have been participating in the Coalition Against Impunity, which issued a letter to U.S. policymakers pointing out the corrupt and politicized state institutions and urging attention to the rule of law. The Institute Justice Team (IJT) has supported such efforts by meeting with congressional offices, State Department officials and the US Military Southern Command. The IJT also co-hosted a delegation of human rights defenders to Washington, D.C., in late October, along with the Maryknoll Office for Global Concern, the Jesuit Conference, Rights Action, the Friendship Office of the Americas, and the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR). Two members of the Honduras delegation, Bertha Oliva and Victor Fernandez, have been subjected to public intimidation in their country after their testimony in D.C.; the IJT is reaching out to U.S. senators and to the State Department to ensure her safety.

Mercy advocates across the US have participated in education and advocacy efforts in support of these human rights defenders. Honduran Jesuit Ismael Moreno spoke at Salve Regina University in Rhode Island during a speaking tour hosted by Witness for Peace. Mercy Community justice coordinators mobilized calls and letters to members of Congress to register concern, and the Rhode Island Mercy sisters, in particular, engaged their senators' active involvement in the human rights situation. In the Mid-Atlantic Community, sisters heard Roy Bourgeois of School of the Americas Watch express concerns for the repression and the human rights violations occurring in Honduras.

Messages to: Institute Justice Team

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