(Honduras) Freedom for the Five Political Prisoners Already! Communique from the Platform of the Social and Popular Movement in Honduras

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(Editor’s Note: This communique comes from the Platform of the Social and Popular Movement in Honduras. It addresses the use of incarceration as a state tactic of repression being used against the popular movement in Honduras. Furthermore, it demands the immediate freedom of five political prisoners of Honduras. The original in Spanish can be found here).

June 19th, 2018

For the freedom of the political prisoners: Edwin Espinal, Raúl Álvarez, Gustavo Ayala, José Godínez and Edy Valle

Prison is one of the main features that has characterized the national situation since the coupe of 2009. The incarceration of women and men in struggle—activists of social organizations, students, campesinxs, Indigenous peoples and blacks in resistance—has been a constant part of the strategy to strengthen the dictatorship led by Juan Orlando Hernández.

This form of repression is not an isolated act in response to the popular mobilization against electoral fraud but an authoritarian and violent strategy. This strategy has been driven by the transformation of the penitentiary system and the specialization of national security services, the reform and creation of new legal frameworks and the militarization of society in general. The effects are evident with the exponential growth of political prisoners. This growth has happened regardless of compañerxs defending themselves by seeking alternative measures to prison. This is the case of the 17 compañeros and one compañera that still face judicial persecution.

The characteristics of the contemporary penitentiary system wear down family members and those in support: prisons are located far away, nearly unreachable by families, the majority of which are mothers, wives, partners and daughters who emotionally and economically sustain the incarcerated population; there is increasingly tedious administrative paperwork; and there are exorbitant costs for the documentation and transportation that enables visits with the prisoners.

Up to this moment, five of our compañeros in struggle remain incarcerated for political reasons: Edwin Espinal and Raúl Álvarez in Tolva Moroceli; Gustavo Cáceres Ayala in the prison of El Paraíso; José Gabriel Godínez in El Progreso Yoro; and Edy Gonzalo Valle in the prison known as the Pozo in Santa Bárbara. The political reasons for their imprisonment include social protest, popular organization and mobilization. These are not crimes but are rights. We hold responsible the Honduras government and the institutions and functionaries involved at all levels, for the unjust incarceration and the violations of the human rights of our compañeros. With this we denounce the following:

The treatment of our compañeros has been different than the rest of the incarcerated population—those prisoners who already live in subhuman conditions. As political prisoners they have been publicly marked as dangerous and as terrorists. Various testimonies utilized against our compañeros have come from members of the national police. They have had to intervene with international human rights missions to ensure that the prisoners are alive as they have been held completely incommunicado. The health deterioration and lack of medical attention has caused one compañero to start a hunger strike to seek help.

The judicial treatment against our compañeros also makes evident the authoritarian power of the judicial system. Judge Claudio Daniel Aguilar who is in charge of the legal processes of Edwin Espinal and Raúl Eduardo Álvarez still has not resolved the hearing requesting to speed up the process. This request had to be resolved within three days, but the excuse of excess work has been continually employed against each legal remedy submitted. We understand this as a mechanism to elongate the stay of the political prisoners in prison, but also to give more time to the accusing party, represented by prosecutor Juan Carlos Elvir.

We demand the security and protection of the lives of our political prisoners, against the physical and psychological torture that they experience on a daily basis. This is made worse by their forced stay in prison where they are surrounded by police and military that are free to utilize violence against the imprisoned population. Furthermore, the situation of our compañeros is made more complicated by the ideological contempt. Being political prisoners, their lives are daily put at risk. The same military and police agents that administer and care for the penitentiary system, during the protests against electoral fraud, had expressed their public hatred for the demonstrations.

To demand the freedom of our political prisoners, is to protect our resistances and our struggles. It requires a collective response that calls upon us, and that is the responsibility of us all.

Political prisoners never again!

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