EGUCIGALPA – The group Feministas de Honduras en Resistencia said Thursday that is has documented 19 instances of rape by police officers since the June 28 coup that ousted President Mel Zelaya.
There have been many other cases of rape, but the women have not reported them out of fear of reprisals, Gilda Rivera, the executive coordinator of the Honduran Center for Women’s Rights and head of Feministas, told Efe.
The activists say that women taking part in the resistance to the coup are being targeted.
“We’ve obtained testimonials from women who’ve been sexually abused, beaten with cudgels on different parts of their bodies, especially the breasts and buttocks,” adds the report presented Thursday at a press conference in Tegucigalpa.
Others have been verbally attacked in a systematic way with phrases like “Whores, go home,” Rivera added.
She also said that some of the women who have had their rights violated “have had to hide and live apart from their children and families to protect their children and avoid raids at their homes.”
The charges from the Feministas coalition come as a delegation from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights is visiting Honduras to appraise the state of human rights since the army ousted Zelaya and erstwhile Congress speaker Roberto Micheletti was installed as “interim” president.
At least a half-dozen Zelaya partisans have been killed in the wake of the putsch.
Zelaya’s supporters repeated Thursday at a peaceful march in the capital that the return of the deposed leader will occur soon.
“We’re going through the prelude to the arrival of President Zelaya,” which “we believe mustn’t be delayed past this coming week,” peasant leader Rafael Alegria, one of the coordinators of the resistance front, told reporters.
He said that officials at the U.S. Embassy on Wednesday told the leaders of the resistance movement that negotiations are taking place in Washington which “are preparing the agreement for the return of President Zelaya.”
If Micheletti does not accept that agreement, “we’re going to make the measures much tougher,” warned Alegria, who said that the demonstrations scheduled over the next week also will be linked to the possible visit by a mission from the Organization of American States.
Honduran soldiers removed Zelaya from office just hours before voters were supposed to cast ballots in a non-binding plebiscite on the idea of revising the constitution.
Though the coup leaders accuse Zelaya of seeking to extend his stay in office, any constitutional change to allow presidential re-election would not take place until well after the incumbent stepped down.
The OAS, the European Union and the United States have been urging Micheletti to accept the San Jose Accord, a formula devised by Costa Rican President Oscar Arias to resolve the crisis.
The Arias plan calls for Zelaya to return and serve out his term, which ends in January 2010, and for a political amnesty that would protect both the coup plotters and the ousted head of state, accused of various offenses by the Micheletti regime.
Zelaya would head a national unity government and the general elections now scheduled for Nov. 29 would be moved up to October.
No nation has recognized the coup regime, the OAS has suspended Honduras and Washington has revoked the U.S. visas of Micheletti and several of his associates.
But President Barack Obama’s administration signaled that it has no plans for sanctions to force the coup regime to step down. EFE