A U.S. religious delegation organized by the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Institute Justice Team, with the support of Quixote Center/Quest for Peace, visited Honduras, August 18-25, 2009. The Honduran military had removed President Zelaya on June 28, creating a national crisis. The coup was denounced by the international community. Mediation efforts by the United Nations, the Organization of American States and President Oscar Arias did not succeed in enabling President Zelaya to return. Human rights and civil society groups were reporting human rights violations, reports not covered in the mainstream media.
The purpose of the delegation was to observe and learn more about the situation from various sectors of Honduran society, to provide moral support to our religious counterparts in-country, and to advocate for the restoration of constitutional order and the protection of human and civil rights.
The religious delegation visited civic and Church leaders, including lawyers, teachers, religious and pastoral workers, human rights activists and U.S. embassy staff. They heard various perspectives on the causes of the coup and on the realities of the Honduran economy. They listened to first-hand accounts of victims of the violence inflicted by Honduran military and police forces upon ordinary people peacefully exercising their rights. The abuses included beatings, rape, harassment, disappearances and death, as well as repeated violations of freedom of the press, which breed confusion and disinformation of the public.
The delegation urges the U.S. government to denounce the human rights violations and to be unequivocal in the signals it gives to the de facto Honduran government on the need to restore constitutional order. The deep polarization in society must be addressed. Long term peace and stability will depend on the inclusion of all Hondurans in the economic and political life of their country.
Members of the delegation:
Jean Stokan, Sisters of Mercy Institute Justice Team
Sister Diane Guerin, Sisters of Mercy Justice Minister
Sister Edia Lopez, Sisters of Mercy Justice Minister
Marie Dennis, Maryknoll Office for Global Concern and Co-President, Pax Christi International