Letter from NDP re Detainment Of Edwin Robelo Espinal By Honduran Authorities

To: The Honourable Chrystia Freeland Minister of Foreign Affairs From Cheryl Hardcastle, NDP Critic for International Human Rights

Dear Minister Freeland

It is deeply upsetting that I must write to you again on a matter about which I have already written two other communiqués to you in recent weeks: the human rights situation in Honduras.

The first statement outlined my concerns with the growing body of evidence detailing irregularities during the recent Honduras General Election, including voter intimidation and voter fraud that favoured the incumbent National Party candidate, President Juan Orlando Hernández.

The second expressed the extreme disappointment New Democrats and civil society groups around the world felt at the Government of Canada’s silence during these events. While we were happy to see the official statement released around this time by your office, where you expressed your concern with the escalating violence in Honduras, post-election, we could not help but notice your glaring omission as to why this violence was occurring—it being a direct result of President Juan Orlando Hernández having blatantly stolen the election. Even the Organization of American States has called for new presidential elections in Honduras after finding copious irregularities in its electoral process.

I therefore find myself once again writing to you on a matter of great urgency. Long-time Honduran human rights activist Edwin Espinal has been jailed on charges related to protests against election fraud in Honduras. For years he has been subject to state harassment, violence, and threats since the 2009 coup d’état.

Edwin faces a laundry list of charges: arson; property damage; and use of homemade explosive material related to damages to the Marriott Hotel, a multi-billion dollar US chain, during a January 12 protest in Tegucigalpa.

Yet thousands of Hondurans from all walks of life attended the January 12 demonstration to protest not only election fraud, but also the killings of more than 30 anti-fraud protesters and bystanders by state security forces; and the arrests of dozens of political prisoners during the ongoing post-electoral crisis.

Edwin is currently in pretrial detention. Although the case has been appealed by respected Honduran human rights organization COFADEH (Committee of Relatives of the Disappeared in Honduras), Edwin could remain in detention for two or more years waiting trial.

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