Monday, 29 June 2009

Amnesty International Says Forced Exile of Honduran President Zelaya Cannot be Allowed to Stand

Organization Expresses Concern that His Supporters May be Detained

NEW YORK, June 29 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Amnesty International said today that Honduran President Manuel Zelaya must be able to return to Honduras immediately, safely and without conditions.

"The forced removal of President Zelaya places human rights and the rule of law in serious danger," said Kerrie Howard, deputy director for the Americas program at Amnesty International.

The organization expressed concerns for the safety of human rights and political activists who support -- or are seen to support -- President Zelaya, saying they may be arbitrarily detained in the political turmoil.

"We would consider those detained because of their criticism of the forced removal and forced exile of President Zelaya as prisoners of conscience," said Howard.

Amnesty International is also concerned at reports suggesting that television channels have been closed and restrictions placed on mass media, preventing people from learning about developments in their country.

Amnesty International urged the Honduran authorities to fully respect human rights and fundamental freedoms; to immediately release any government officials and political activists who may be currently detained; to refrain from further arbitrary detentions; and to guarantee that political opponents and human rights defenders are able to carry out their legitimate activities without fear of reprisal.

Background

Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was detained by Honduran military personnel and forced into exile. Several government ministers are also reported to have been detained. Roberto Micheletti, Congress speaker, has been sworn in as "Interim President." Micheletti has imposed a curfew.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 2.2 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied.

Please visit www.amnestyusa.org for more information.

Amnesty International