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UPDATE: MP Nuttall’s Honduras petition open for signature

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In Council Watch
Oct 4th, 2018
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Karen Spring taking food into jail

Karen Spring takes food into La Tolva for Edwin Espinal and Raul Alvarez

from Janet Spring October 11 2018

The Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor Committee urges you to read, sign and share the House of Commons e-petition on the Political Prisoners in Honduras.
petition e-1868 was initiated by Janet Spring, sponsored by Alexander Nuttall, Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte and will be open for signature for 120 days, until February 7, 2019. You will find the e-petition webpage by clicking here.

For background information and latest updates posted by our committee click here

Two dead in La Tolva prison, Honduras – Espinal and Alvarez unharmed in uprising, amnesty being sought through dialogue process

By Janet Spring Simcoe County Honduras Rights Monitor October 4 2018

My son-in-law Edwin Espinal and fellow political prisoner Raul Alvarez have been incarcerated in La Tolva maximum-security prison in Honduras for over eight months for speaking against the Hernandez government.

On Sunday September 30, there was a large uprising in one of the prison modules in La Tolva (a module holds 100 men). Notifications came out on Twitter late in the evening reporting that two men were dead, seven seriously injured.

In these instances, the families of prisoners are not notified; they must await media coverage or travel to the prison to inquire as to the state of their loved ones. Like other family members, we spent the night in dread, thinking the worst might have happened to Edwin. It was only through a chance encounter at the Tegucigalpa hospital to which the injured had been taken that my daughter Karen was reassured that Edwin had not been killed or harmed.

Related: Janet Spring on Rabble podcast

The horrific conditions and neglect of all prisoners by the Honduran authorities are the cause of these serious and deadly outbreaks. Prisoners are desperate. They are starving, ill, deprived of sunlight, fresh water, they have limited family visits and no contact with the outside world; no phone or written communication is allowed. They have no reading materials; they sit in overcrowded modules and at night in their cells with no hope for change. Tempers mount, desperation sets in and serious conflicts begin with deadly consequences.

All prisoners in La Tolva live in dire conditions. Edwin and Raul have each lost over 35 pounds as have many others. Their weight loss is so significant that pressure from an international human rights organization forced prison authorities to send both men to a nutritionist.

Due to their lack of a proper diet, which is less than 2000 calories per day and based on starch and very little protein, the nutritionist reluctantly prescribed additional nutrients to be added to their diet. Edwin’s family members were given a prescription to purchase oatmeal and fresh fruit. But in Honduras, extra food ordered by a doctor for prisoners must be found, purchased, and delivered to the prison by a family member.

However, the family has no way of determining if the extra food is actually given to their family member or if the amounts are sufficient. Other prisoners whose families either do not have the funds or ability to advocate for their loved ones continue to languish in La Tolva without proper nutrition.

There is no change in the water shortage and water quality at the prison. All prisoners are drinking a limited water supply that is brought in by truck, pumped out of the local river. Their living accommodations are deplorable; they sleep on very think pieces of foam; fights break out due to the high stress level of prisoners.

Throughout September a dialogue process to deal with the unrest occurring throughout Honduras and the political prisoner situation, has been underway. It is facilitated by the United Nations. One of the mandates of the dialogue is to give amnesty to all political prisoners arrested during and after the illegal election of Hernandez. We fear the amnesty will not include the dropping of all trumped-up charges. We also are concerned that some prisoners will not be granted amnesty due to the seriousness of the false charges levied against them.

This dialogue is a flawed process for it only includes representatives from certain political parties that are vying for power. There is no representation from the people or the human rights or social movement groups who understand the poor conditions that the people of Honduras are living in. Over 60% of the population lives in poverty. Much of the male population is unemployed.

A recent report by the human rights organization @fosdeh states that in 2017, the Hernandez government spent over 120 million lempiras (5 million USD) on teargas, grenades, gun cartridges and projectile weapons. These weapons were deployed in the streets to suppress any human rights workers like Edwin and Raul who speak out and take a stand against the violence of the government and recently the illegal election of Juan Orlando Hernandez.

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