Late yesterday afternoon, we received notice from Witness for Peace that Sen. Ed Markey (MA) and Rep. Jan Schakowsky (IL) began circulating a sign-on “Dear Colleague” letter in the U.S. Congress to President Trump and Secretary of State Pompeo, urging them to investigate and condemn recent threats against human rights defenders, journalists and international human rights observers in Honduras. So far, Representatives Johnson (GA), Kaptur (OH), Holmes Norton (DC), Ellison (MN), Espaillat (NY), McGovern (MA), Jayapal (WA), Khanna (CA), Lee (CA), Gutiérrez (IL-4), and  Pocan (WI-2) have joined Sen. Markey and Rep. Schakowsky on this letter.

Call the Capitol Switchboard (202-224-3121) today and ask to be connected to the office of your member of Congress. Demand safety for people who are doing important human rights work or reporting on matters of public interest.

The danger is serious. Journalists, as well as the director of the Guatemala Human Rights Commission/USA, have received threats and been attacked in Honduras. Foreigners documenting human rights abuses have been deported, and smear campaigns have targeted people critical of the Honduran government, even extending to Witness for Peace delegations. Some of these threats and attacks have come from members of Honduran state security forces, which the U.S. funds.

Rep. Schakowsky and Sen. Markey’s letter calls on the Trump administration to:

-communicate concern to the Government of Honduras and request that it investigate these attacks, determine if state security forces were involved, and bring the perpetrators to justice.

-direct the State Department to 1) provide Congress with a detailed assessment of the efficacy of current Honduran government efforts to protect freedom of expression, and 2) reassess its certification of human rights conditions in Honduras.

-immediately investigate threats against U.S. citizens, report the findings of the investigation to Congress, and include in the report what actions the administration has taken in response.

Call your members of Congress (both Senators and your House Representative) NOW to ask them to take action to help protect journalists, human rights defenders and international observers.

Sample call script:

“My name is ________ and I’m a constituent calling from _________. I’m calling to ask Senator/Representative _____ to sign the Markey/SchakowskyDear Colleague” letter calling for immediate action to address an alarming recent pattern of threats against journalists, human rights defenders, and international human rights observers working in Honduras. The letter is just circulating for two days and is crucial to the protection of people doing the vitally important work of documenting and relating the human rights situation in Honduras to the U.S. and broader international community.

Has Senator/Representative _______ seen this letter? Can I count on him/her to sign on? Please call me at (_your phone number_) to let me know if you have seen the letter, and if Senator/Representative _____ will sign it.”  To sign on to the letter contact Aaron Weinberg with Rep. Schakowsky (Aaron.Weinberg@mail.house.gov) or Satrajit (Jitu) Sardar with Sen. Markey (Satrajit_Sardar@markey.senate.gov).

 

Sharon Hunter-Smith

Sharon Hunter-Smith has blogged 230 posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *