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Arbitrary arrests and beatings in Honduras, claims Amnesty report

Thursday, August 20th 2009 - 05:06 UTC
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De facto president Roberto Micheletti accuses Zelaya supporters of violence and provoking authorities De facto president Roberto Micheletti accuses Zelaya supporters of violence and provoking authorities

In the seven weeks since the military-backed bloodless coup in Honduras, several hundred people protesting against the de facto government have been arbitrarily arrested and beaten by government forces, a new Amnesty International report says.

The report, released Wednesday, said the beatings were meant to punish those who opposed the ouster of constitutional President Manuel Zelaya in June.

It includes testimony from, and photographs of, several people who were baton-whipped and detained by police officers who sometimes wore no visible identification and hid their faces behind bandanas as they broke up demonstrations.

“They beat us if we raised our heads; they beat us when they were getting us into the police cars,” said a student whom AI interviewed in late July at the police station where he was being detained.

Multiple requests to the government for comment went unanswered. The government has said in the past that the demonstrators were arrested for engaging in violence, vandalism and provoking authorities.

The Honduran political crisis stems from Zelaya's defiant push to hold a referendum that could have led to extending term limits by changing the constitution. The country's congress had outlawed the vote and the Supreme Court had ruled it illegal.

Zelaya was ousted in a coup on June 28. The congress named Roberto Micheletti provisional president shortly after the military detained Zelaya and sent him into exile.

Micheletti and his supporters deny that a coup took place, calling the action a constitutional transfer of power.

The coup resulted in unrest throughout the country, with frequent clashes between police and military on one side and civilian protesters on the other. At least two people were shot to death, AI reports.

Categories: Politics, Latin America.

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