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Simcoe County group says freedom could be near for Honduran political prisoners

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In First Nations
Jun 27th, 2018
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Reverend Meg Jordan, Karen Spring and Karen's mom Janet Spring

Reverend Meg Jordan, Karen Spring and Karen’s mom Janet Spring spoke at a recent community meeting about their experience in Honduras as a delegation to push for the freedom of political prisoners. Erika Engel/CollingwoodToday photo

Karen Spring, a human rights champion in Honduras and Elmvale native, believes with a little more pushing, the Honduran government will have to free her partner and other political prisoners

by: Erika Engel Collingwood Today

A little more pressure from Canadians on the federal government could be the catalyst to free Edwin Espinal.

Karen Spring, Espinal’s partner and a Simcoe County native, encouraged her Elmvale neighbours to keep up the fight on Espinal’s behalf for a little longer.

“I think things are looking up,” said Spring during a community meeting in Elmvale on Sunday, June 24. “There’s been a lot of people from Simcoe County pushing the Canadian and US governments.”

Spring said she thinks the Canadian and US governments are looking more open to national dialogues.

“Edwin (Espinal) was arrested at a time of crisis,” said Spring. Espinal was arrested in January during mass protesting in Honduras after a corrupt election. Many protesters were killed and many more arrested and imprisoned without a trial. “Five months after this crisis, the Honduran government is responding to the international process… The government is being forced to come to the table, and I think there’s a chance for discussion on political prisoners.”

Spring encouraged those at the meeting to keep the pressure on the Canadian government so when they go into those international talks, the plight of the political prisoners and their families is forefront in their minds.

“It’s a really important moment,” said Spring. “Probably our best shot for Edwin and the other political prisoners to be released because of international pressure.”

Spring recently returned from Honduras, and saw Espinal last week on Tuesday (June 19). She gets four-hour visits with him now, but must show proof (via a plane ticket) she is returning to Canada within 30 days of the visit.

She said he has lost a lot of weight and looks malnourished. She brings him food. And he spends all four hours eating every crumb. He is in a max security prison, built by a US company, and most of the population are violent murderers, rapists and gang members. Espinal has to keep his head down, he’s not allowed to do things like teach English to other inmates because it’s seen as a threat to the gang leadership inside the prison. Espinal keeps track of every day he’s been in prison. It’s been more than five months.

The phones to the prison have been shut off for about three months. There’s no communication in or out for the prisoners or guards via phone. Cell phone blocking technology also prevents the use of cell phones.

But, according to Spring, Espinal still remains hopeful for his freedom and for justice to win out.

Canadians can help free Espinal and the other political prisoners by putting pressure on the Canadian government to push Honduras to release the prisoners and drop the charges.

There is an online petition created by Amnesty International to free Espinal. You can sign the petition or read more about it here.

You can reach out to your local MP to make sure he or she knows about the issue and ask him or her to pass it on to the Prime Minister. You can reach out to Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland by email or by calling 613-992-5234.

You can also contact the Honduran ambassador to Canada, Sofia Lastenia Cerrato Rodriguez, by email or by calling her Ottawa office at 613-233-8900.

You can find more information about Espinal and the other political prisoners and the Simcoe County-based effort to have them freed and the charges dropped via the Simcoe County Honduran Rights Monitor group website.

 

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