Sunday, August 23, 2009

90+ Scholars call on Human Rights Watch to publicize violations in Honduras

Recently, I posted about Amnesty International's report on the dire and deteriorating human rights situation in Honduras. In contrast to Amnesty, the New York-based Human Rights Watch has been silent about Honduras for the past six weeks. The other day, in an open letter to HRW Excutive Director Kenneth Roth, a large group of experts on Latin America publicly pressured the organization to document and report on conditions there:

...We call on your organization to fulfill your important role as a guardian of universal human rights and condemn, strongly and forcefully, the ongoing abuses being committed by the illegal regime in Honduras. We also ask that you conduct your own investigation of these crimes.

While Human Rights Watch was quick to condemn the illegal coup d'etat of June 28 and the human rights violations that occurred over the following week, which helped shine the spotlight of international media on these abuses, the absence of statements from your organization since the week following the coup has contributed to the failure of international media to report on subsequent abuses.

...If Human Rights Watch would raise its voice, it would be much more difficult for the Obama administration to ignore Honduras' human rights situation and maintain financial and other support for its illegal regime.

We know that there are, sadly, innumerable urgent human rights crises around the world, all of which require your attention. Addressing the deteriorating situation in Honduras, however, is of paramount importance given its potential to serve as a precedent for other coups and the rise of other dictatorships, not just in Honduras, but throughout the region. History has shown that such coups leave deep scars on societies, and that far too often they have led to the rise of some of history's most notorious rights abusers, such as in Pinochet's Chile, Videla's Argentina, and Cedras' Haiti, to name but a few. As human rights defenders with extensive experience in dealing with the appalling human consequences of these regimes, Human Rights Watch is clearly well placed to understand the urgency of condemning the Honduran regime's abuses and to helping ensure the coup is overturned, that democracy is restored, and that political repression and other human rights abuses are stopped. Your colleagues in the Honduran human rights community are counting on you, as are the Honduran people. We hope you will raise your voice on Honduras.

Will you speak out, HRW?


  1. hey, SC--just want to thank you for all you are doing to raise awareness about human rights in a part of the world I know so little about. I've enjoyed reading you over the years at PZ's, and I'm glad you have your own blog now. It's important work; keep it up! I hope when my current situational madness settles down, to be back reading you, but wanted to tell you in the meantime that I really value what you do.

  2. Off-topic:

    I did get a chance to talk with Rebecca Watson before she split for DragonCon. Unfortunately, she doesn't have the original recording for the SGU podcast we discussed at Pharyngula the other day.